As I was walking in Duke Gardens last spring, I saw a great blue heron perched in a tree. I took my first shot of him (right).
It's easy to get caught up snapping photos and forget to look at the camera's display. I try to always check the display to see what I have captured and what I'd like to change.
Looking at the photo, I decided it was OK. The lighting was good, but I didn't like the branches in front of the heron's face. I decided to move to the other side of the tree and shoot from there.
Moving around has really improved my photos. I try to shoot from different angles, different sides, even lying on the ground. When I move, the light on the subject changes and the changing light alters the mood of the image.
When I moved the to the opposite side of the tree, I took the second shot (left).
Checking the camera's display, I decided I liked the warm feeling of the sunlight filtering throughout the tree limbs and I liked the shape of the heron, but I found the green of the leaves a little distracting. I wondered, what would this shot look like as a monochrome image?
I knew if the photograph were a traditional black and white, I would lose the warmth of the sunlight. Light gray is not a warm color. I decided instead to make the image an antique black and white, or cream tone since cream is a warmer color than gray. Experimenting with the tone gave me the next image (below).
As I had predicted, the cream tone did retain a sense of warmth while eliminating the green shades I had found distracting.
However, the change of image tone also pleasantly surprised me. Suddenly, my photograph resembled a Japanese silk painting. I found it beautiful and vastly different and more interesting that the first heron shot I took.
Had I not looked at the camera display, moved around, and experimented with tone, I would not I have captured the last image.
Blogger Sarah Reuning is a Duke Gardens volunteer photographer. Click here to learn more about volunteering at Duke Gardens. Click here to see nature photography and other classes offered at Duke Gardens.