The Eyes Are The Beauty For This Beholder



With most things in life, l like to distill them down to their simplest form. As a result, I don’t have many rules concerning wildlife photography. What few rules I have can be summarized as follows:

  • Create images with clean simple backgrounds.
  • Create images in the soft early morning light.
  • Shoot when the shadows are long.
  • Keep the subject as simple as possible.
  • Make sure subjects are side or front lit.
  • Make the subjects eye the main focal point of the composition.

When photographing the Red-tailed Hawk shown above, I used every one of these rules of composition. Its eyes are by far my favorite part of this image.

Blue-Winged Teal preening after an early morning swim.
Blue-Winged Teal Preening in Early Morning Light

I always try to wait to trip the shutter until a bird turns it’s head to a position where the sun reflects from its eye. Without doing this, the image of the Teal shown above would have less impact since his head is comprised mainly of neutral toned feathers that don’t necessarily draw your attention from the green toned water in the background. This image also shows that I don’t always follow my own rules as the twigs behind the bird are a little distracting.

Female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird lit up by morning sunrise.
Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird Side-lit by Sunrise

This picture of a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird is a bit of a posed shot. I set my camera up by a hanging basket of flowers on the east side of my house and purposefully positioned myself such that background is composed of entirely of thick foliage. If I had set my tripod two feet to either side, a bright patch of sky would have become part of the composition and would have distracted from the subject. Since this was captured in relatively low light conditions, I used a flash for fill light. This helped me keep the background under exposed so that it didn’t draw attention from the subject.

Bullfrog in early light reflecting from surface of pond.
Bullfrog in the Morning Sun.

Bullfrogs are always great subjects. Their irises are some of the most spectacular found in the local wildlife population. I captured this image from my blind this past Saturday morning. As you can see from the shadows, the sun was still low on the horizon at the time of capture. This is a great example of shooting when the shadows are long.

Thanks for visiting, hope you enjoyed. – John

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