Today I set out to the Villas Wildlife Management Area during the magic hour in search of raptors. Though I saw several hawks and two Great Blue Herons flying high above, no photographic opportunities presented themselves due to the distance of the birds or the lighting conditions. Since the VWMA was formerly a golf course and held the massive estate of a beer brewer who was eventually incarcerated, water hazards remain on the premises. Since I was having no luck with the birds, I tried my hand at some impressionist photography using the water hazards. Since the sun was low, some of the areas were poorly lit but the exposures acquitted themselves well after some minor Photoshop manipulation:
Autumn Reflections, Canon 50D, 400mm 5.6L, f/5.6 @ 1/250, ISO 800, -2/3 EV. November 4, 2011.
This area was not well lit. Since I had planned on shooting birds, I did not have a tripod or monopod with me. The 400 5.6L also lacks image stabilization, so I was forced to bump the ISO to 800 and drop the exposure compensation in the hopes of getting a suitable shutter speed. I was shooting in RAW, so I knew that bringing the exposure back up wouldn't be much of a problem. Since the camera was already set in high speed continuous mode to shoot birds, I rattled off a number of shots in the hopes of getting one that didn't display obvious camera shake. The original RAW file looked like this out of the camera:
Though I'm a purist when it comes to my nature photography, I don't mind manipulating RAW images for impressionist scenes. The first thing I did was switch the auto white balance from "As Shot" to Daylight:
Then, I increased the Blacks, the exposure and did two things that I NEVER do with nature or landscape photography: I pushed the Vibrance slider past the +10 mark. The Saturation was only set at +4. The end result is what you see in the first photo above.
Here's a completely different example from today. I stopped all the way down to f/32 to give the starburst quality to the beams of light reflecting off the water and through the foliage:
Reflecting Sun, Canon 50D, 400mm 5.6L, f/32 @ 1/160, ISO 100. November 4, 2011
I lowered the ISO, despite the slow shutter speed it would provide, due to the brightness of the reflections. They are still somewhat washed-out. I wanted to leave the foliage as part of the scene without blacking it out, however.
Here's two more examples from today:
Golden Pond Reflection, Canon 50D, 400mm 5.6L, f/5.6 @ 1/400, ISO 400, EV -1/3. November 4, 2011
I wasn't as crazy about this one, but it provides some groundwork for further experimentation:
Tree Reflections, Canon 50D, 400mm 5.6L, f/5.6 @ 1/400, ISO 400, EV -1/3. November 4, 2011.