…but it can’t do miracles! Check your settings before you shoot!
Really, all I want to write for this post is “Aaaargh!”
Followed by “Aaaaaaaargh!”
But it’s my own fault. I’d been shooting hummingbirds the evening before. I have been experimenting with a fast shutter speed with hummingbirds.
I’m always conscious that I need good light for this because of the fast shutter speed.
The next morning, however, I was in an Eucalyptus grove, on an overcast day. I was looking for owls.
I found one pretty quickly and it was sitting in a shaft of sunlight.
I was conscious of the light, but completely unconscious of my camera settings — still set for a shutter speed of 1/6400 of a second.
And as (bad) luck would have it, this was an absolutely awesome day of owls. They were flying here, they were flying there. I had pictures of single owls and of multiple owls together. I was so excited to see these photos.
I was taking shot after shot while I waited for Katherine to catch up to me. She hadn’t, so I called her on her cell. Luckily, she answered quickly. She was nearby and her ringtone could have scared the owls. Lesson learned: put all cellphoness on vibrate.
It wasn’t until we had walked over to Antonelli Pond when I noticed that I was shooting at a fast shutter speed. I actually had a physically bad feeling in my stomach as I realized that almost all of my owl pictures had been taken in the shade of Eucalyptus trees under an overcast sky with a fast shutter speed. Otherwise known as a recipe for a ruined shoot.
I got home and, with low expectations, downloaded the photos into Lightroom.
Was it as bad as I expected?
Here’s an example. This is a picture of a Great Horned Owl taking flight while another watches.
Here is the photo after I did some work on it with Lightroom. Bear in mind that I’m a pretty basic Lightroom user. I’m still learning how to use the software. But at least now I could see the owls.
Following are more examples, though none as dramatically bad as the one above. It all depended on where the owls were in the Eucalyptus grove and how much light there was in any particular spot.
As you can see, I had an amazing owl watching experience. And that is one take away from this photographic disaster. My pictures didn’t turn out as I would have liked (“Understatement, much?”), but I still got to see the owls, flying and drinking and hanging out together. So cool!
The other takeaway is that I need to make sure that the camera is on Aperture Priority when I finish shooting for the day. That is the setting I use most often and a good place to start in the morning. Also, after taking a few shots, I should check my settings and confirm they are as I need them to be.
NOTE: I purchased the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV a few months ago because my lens is not particularly “fast.” I picked this Canon camera because I had read that it was good in low light. And it is, if you don’t self-sabotage. Despite the shutter settings, the camera was able to grab a ton of image information. I don’t even want to imagine what the pictures would have looked like with one of my older cameras!