I wanted to share the story behind this colourful photo of the mostly lovely, attack lorikeet I met at the Currumbin Sanctuary. While at the park, I took over 600 photos of fun creatures, most of them during the harsh lighting hours of 10am to 4pm. It was impossible to get a good shot of the lorikeets in this lighting. Because it was so scorching hot, most of them stayed up in the shade of the tall gum nut trees far out of the reach of my 50mm lens.
I had almost given up, when suddenly at about 5pm, the light became magical. It got all warm and soft and yummy. Everyone was leaving the park as it was closing, so I had a nice clean shot of the birds as they were happily slurping their honey water. I shot maybe 30 images of the lorikeet in different lighting conditions, (shade, direct sun, diffused light), so I felt like I had at least one good shot.
When I got home and went through all my photos, I was really disappointed with my lorikeet shots. I just didn’t see the magical shot I wanted. A couple days later I scanned the images again and found one that I felt was “decent”. I worked on it for a while in Aperture. I played a lot with the composition of the image. Check out the before shot:
This image is far too busy with the other bird in the shot and the blue metal feeder in the background. I cropped in really tight on the head, but making sure there was enough negative space around the head to create nice shapes.
I also blurred out the background even more and desaturated the green in the background slightly so it wouldn’t distract from the lorikeet. I increased the saturation and vibrancy of the feathers minorly and spent ages cleaned up all the tiny imperfections on the eye, beak and feathers.
The lessons I learnt from this experience this were:
- If you are at a wildlife park or zoo, enjoy the experience of hanging out with cool animals during the harsh light hours and take your serious shots during magic hour. Because photos taken during magic hour are always better than ones taken in harsh light. It sucks, especially because most parks close right when the light becomes magical, so you really have to push it to stay out there until they kick you out!
- Take several passes through your photos before discarding any “decent” shots, especially when you are going though hundreds of images after a shoot when you are tired and creatively zapped.
- You can take a photo from good to great if you spend a good chunk of time in post. Really get critical with your images. Analyze them and ask others for criticism. Make them as perfect as possible.
And you never know, maybe your photo will end up on the front page of flickr explore!! :D