But What About The Background?

December 21, 2023

Chinstrap penguin, Fournier Harbour, AntarcticaChinstrap penguin, Fournier Harbour, Antarctica

Chinstrap penguin, Fournier Harbour, Antarctica
Fujifilm X-H2, Fujinon XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR, f7.1 @ 1/1250 second, ISO 320

Professional photographers often say they'll shoot anything except wildlife and children, the rule coming from days in the studio when getting a dog to sit up and smile was probably easier than asking a toddler! Yet even on location, it seems everything is a bit of a challenge when it comes to wildlife and children.

Now, personally, I'm very happy with my photo of a Chinstrap penguin. I like the eye contact as the bird was definitely following us as we floated quietly past in our zodiac. I like the soft light. It was overcast and actually a bit murky, but if you lighten up the shadows and add in a touch of colour, I find this type of light can work quite well, especially to reveal all the fine detail in a subject.

I like the simplicity of the photograph, how there's just the penguin sitting on an iceberg and nothing much else. I like the central composition, but some will say the bird should have been to the left or the right. Bad luck. And I love the way the telephoto lens has thrown the background out of focus, so the subject is clearly delineated. In fact, the only problem was the position of the background iceberg, the wonderful blue blur with the edge coming right down the middle of the frame.

Now, I have other shots where the iceberg background is in a better position, but I don't like the angle or the pose of the penguin quite as much - and herein is the challenge for shooting wildlife. Not only do you have to nail the subject (figuratively speaking, of course), the background has to work as well.

So, it's back to the drawing board and I guess I'll just have to try harder on my next voyage south!

 


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