Michael’s image titled “Runway” won first place in the Silver Level Color Category this month. More of Michael’s work can be found at his website.
Here is a little about the image:
||January 2013 / Silver / Color / First Place
||Brazos Bend State Park – Elm Lake
|Reason For Making the Image
||I was presented with an opportunity to capture a mood and to tell a story through nature.
In anticipation, I got up very early to go to the park to take advantage of the dense fog predicted for the morning. The light, shadows, structure, and reflections created by fog in winter in wetlands and forests can make fantastic moody, serene, and sometimes creepy images. The water at Elm lake was absolutely motionless and very little animal activity had started. There were bubbles on the surface from the underwater vegetation also catching some light. The sunrise was coming through the trees and was beginning to burn through the fog. While setting up to take a simple landscape shot to capture the still water and reflections, a raft of American Coots slowly swam into my frame. Coots huddle in large groups, or rafts, but will move across larger areas by separating into an almost single file line. Then one or two individuals will run and fly to the new location with one or two more individuals each following in turn, like planes lined up on a runway, until the entire raft is at the new location. I was hoping I was in a perfect set up to capture this, but I was uncertain if I could capture both the motion of the birds flying as well as the splash made while running. Since meters want to turn fog neutral gray and the light level was too low yet to provide strong contrasts, I increased the exposure bias by 2/3 stop to lighten the fog and to get the shutter speed I though would be best to show the motion of the birds but still freeze the water splashes enough for them to appear still – and then I waited. As the birds began to fly, I took a series of shots while they were moving. I chose this one image and in post processing burned the left edge and lower left corner of the frame leaving the center as originally exposed in order to highlight the action in the shot. I also adjusted contrast and clarity to make the birds and the movement the focus of the image. The dim shadows cast from trees along the bank into the fog added some additional depth and subtle contrast in the fog that I found especially appealing. When I look at the image now, I can still hear the flapping of their wings and the splashing sound the Coot’s feet make when running across the water.
||Canon EOS 5D Mark II + Canon EF 24-70mm F2.8/L at 46mm