As some of you know, I am a fan of tight “head and shoulder” shots, and whenever I get the chance to create them I do no hesitate for one second. When faced with a tame and cooperative subject, especially one that is not moving, it is also lots of fun to photograph other parts of it. In the excitement of photographing a close subject it is easy to forget to point the lens away from the face – but lots of other opportunities await further along.
The first obvious possibility is feather patterns on the body. On larger birds they are wide areas that can cover the frame from edge-to-edge top and bottom. Very cool abstract patterns and colours can be seen and photographed. Usually it is best to stop down a good bit as birds’ bodies are rounded and you may risk having the edges soft as their bodies curve away from the sharp centre. It is also a good idea to try to frame the images with rhyme and reason, either using a larger feather, or patch of colour, or a line as the main point of interest and composing with that in mind.
Great Blue Heron, Canon 7D + 500mm f/4 II + 1.4TC III, manual exposure, evaluative metering, 1/160s., f/11, ISO 800.
Wood Duck, female, Canon 7D + 100-400L @400mm, manual exposure, evaluative metering, 1/250s., f/8, ISO 800, flash @ +2/3 FEC.
Another thing I love to photograph with tame and static animals is their feet and legs. Claws, shapes, colours, textures of the skin all provided very neat visuals to look at. When looked up from so close we see how they were designed to be perfectly adapted to their habits and habitats. Again, if possible, stopping down works well due to the proximity of the subjects and maximizing the depth of field.
Great Blue Heron, Canon 7D + 500mm f/4 II + 1.4TC III, manual exposure, evaluative metering, 1/500s., f/10, ISO 400.
Snowy Owl, Canon 7DII + 500mm f/4 II + 1.4TC III, manual exposure, evaluative metering, 1/500s., f/10, ISO 800.
Greater Yellowlegs, Canon 7D + 500mm f/4 II + 1.4TC III, manual exposure, evaluative metering, 1/160s., f/8, ISO 800.
Now, larger subjects are obviously the easiest to get these types of images with, but once in a while smaller birds or animals can give the chance to do the same, or similar. For the Northern Cardinal pictured below I could not fill the whole frame with nothing but feathers, but with the wing contour and long tail I opted to compose for the outline shapes. At best I think it gave an interesting result, at worst it was a fun experiment – which is always a good thing to try, especially in the digital world where discarding a missed experiment does not cost more $$ 🙂
Northern Cardinal, male, Canon 7DII + 500mm f/4 II + 1.4TC III, manual exposure, evaluative metering, 1/250s., f/8, ISO 3200.
Once in a while an even smaller subject comes across. This baby Snapping Turtle had a tough time going back into the river – it was a very windy day and the crashing waves were just too strong for it as it tried to leave the sandy beach. It kept tumbling over at every crash of wave – losing the progess it had made in between them. I picked it up to help it out, but before letting it go I popped out the macro lens to take interesting close-up images of it. My favorite being this one, which happened to be not of the face and perfect for this blog post:
Snapping Turtle, Canon 7D + 100mm f/2.8 macro lens, manual exposure, evaluative metering, 1/50s., f/6.3, ISO 800, flash @ +1/3 FEC.
Endless opportunities abound, and this is one area that I will be more consciously thinking about as I come across cooperative subjects. I can think of a few times where I could have done so, but did not think of it in the excitement of the moment – but I will discipline myself to think outside the box as the results can be rather compelling!