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Ducks in the clouds

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This is a different kind of bird in flight image for me. I hope you enjoy the composition.

This image is intended to be a skyscape with the flying ducks as silhouettes, as a focal point of the picture, with the white cloud arc leading to the birds.

Feedback on the composition, lighting and colour of this image would be useful.

Brand:NIKON CORPORATION
Camera:Nikon D300S Check out Nikon Nation!
Lens:70.0-300.0 mm f/4.5-5.6
Recording media:JPEG (digital)
Date Taken:28 May 2011 - 7:59 PM
Focal Length:300mm
Lens Max Aperture:f/5.7
Aperture:f/8.0
Shutter Speed:1/640sec
Exposure Comp:0.0
ISO:400
Exposure Mode:Aperture-priority AE
Metering Mode:Multi-segment
Flash:No Flash
White Balance:Manual
Title:Ducks in the clouds
Username:SpiritOfLight SpiritOfLight
Uploaded:21 Oct 2013 - 4:57 AM
Tags:Animals, Birds in flight, Clouds, Ducks, England, Nature, Skyscape, Wildlife, Worcestershire
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Comments

This photo is here for critique. Please only comment constructively and with suggestions on how to improve it.
AnneB50
AnneB50 e2 Member 284 forum postsAnneB50 vcard Scotland18 Constructive Critique Points
21 Oct 2013 - 10:27 AM

Lovely sky here and I like the formation of the three birds.

There are two issues for me though. The timing of these flight shots is really tricky and you were just a fraction of a second too late so the birds are flying out of the picture rather than into it. Some of our peers on this site would be able to swap that round in a mod for you but I'm not clever enough for that!

The other thing is that the birds are under exposed, unless of course you intended them as silhouettes against the sky.

For shots like this I would select the shutter speed I wanted then manually meter against something the same colour as the birds. I would then adjust the ISO until I got the aperture I wanted, it doesn't need to be very small for this sort of shot. The histogram will show the shot as over exposed but you should be able to see some detail in the birds.

Anne Smile

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SpiritOfLight
21 Oct 2013 - 12:31 PM

Thanks, Anne for your comments.

This image is intended to be a skyscape with the flying ducks as silhouettes against the cloudy sky as a focal point of the picture.

The image you see is a crop from a larger image with smaller looking ducks. After the shot, I intentionally positioned the ducks in order to show the arc of the white clouds leading to them. The ducks were silhouetted against the cloudy sky backlight by the setting sun and adjusting the exposure for them would have ruined the sky.

Nigel Smile

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mrswoolybill
mrswoolybill Critique Team 7396 forum postsmrswoolybill vcard United Kingdom971 Constructive Critique Points
21 Oct 2013 - 5:24 PM

Welcome to the Critique gallery, I see that this is your first upload in this bit of the site!
I like this a lot. What makes it work for me is the different angle of the lowest bird, its head looking downwards while the others look straight ahead. That plus the tiny streak of light showing under the wing of the top bird, breaking the silhouette.
Anne's comment reflects the received wisdom that a subject should be entering the frame not leaving it. A lot of people would also prefer the ducks to be flying from left to right, I suspect.
Following convention gives satisfying pictures that don't trouble the mind, don't leave questions hanging. This sort of image makes the brain work, leaves us feeling slightly dissatisfied, in a positive way. We wonder where they are heading to, out of the frame and out of sight. Travelling leftwards gives a downbeat, reflective feel. Rightwards would be confident, optimistic. Very different.
I'm interested that you have cropped this down from a bigger file. I wonder how many other crops were available? Michael Freeman, in his wonderful book 'The Photographer's eye', takes a basic scene, a farmer in a huge rice field, and demonstrates (from memory) nine totally different effects that can be achieved by placement and cropping.
I'd like a bit more brightness and contrast in the sky, partly to make more of that vapour trail. There's a lack of clean white here, it's shades of blue/grey. I'll try a Mod - in due course it will appear under the Modifications button, beneath your upload - click on the thumbnail to view.
Moira

Last Modified By mrswoolybill at 21 Oct 2013 - 5:29 PM

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