I have been thinking about the subject of this post for quite awhile. Photographing birds on a heavily clouded, overcast day. Today was one of them. It reminded me of a close friend that almost refuses to try any photography if the sun isn’t shining. The way to be sucessful is to forget about the color of the sky. Think about the subject, your birds, and focus (pun intended) on photographing them, and not on the color of the sky. If you want to photograph a blue sky, wait for a clear day. If you want to photograph birds, be prepared to do just that. You just do what you usually do. In my case, I shoot shutter priority, set the shutter on about 1000/sec or higher depending on the lighting. I set auto ISO, and just let that exposure float along. That is basically how I shoot birds regardless of the weather.
I also am prepared to boost the EV adjustment to the right about 1/3 or 2/3 stops. Sometimes it may be necessary to go higher. It may produce higher ISO exposures, but what’s the big deal? Most popular SLRs have no problem with that. It’s not going to keep me at home. Like I said, just shoot what you would do on a normal day; cope with the usual exposure problems. Focus on the birds and let the exposures fall where they may. YOu will notice also, that in overcast weather, the color is nicely saturated.
On the subject of high ISOs, I know of a photographer that refuses to shoot if it is a high ISO day. Hogwash!! What kind of a photographer thinks that. Not the kind that is very successful. I hope my friend that doesn’t like overcast days, will think about what I have said, and go give it a chance. Other than that quirk, she is a talented photographer.
Okay, now that I am through ranting, I will tell you about today. I woke up with a forecast for the day, of cloudy with a 20% chance of rain. The forecast held true. It was very cloudy, looking like it could rain at any time. In fact, a few times there was a hint of a few sprinkles on the windshield. But they disappeared in a minute or two. As usual, I didn’t want to stay home. I am shooting with my Canon 7D Mk II and a Gen 2, Tamron 150-600mm Lens. I will post the exposure data along with each image. Click on any of those images to see enlargements.
We started out at Spring Creek Park at about 8:00 AM. We were apprehensive about whether we would see any birds at all. Most of the tiny birds were keeping themselves hidden. However there were a few other hardy ones. This yellow-shafted Northern Flicker was in a bush and I was able to get him in focus.
The resident Great Horned Owl made an appearance again.
After seeing that owl, we decided to go to San Angelo State Park, since it was pretty wet in and we were driving through some sloppy areas. The state park provided some more paved roads.
As were taking a little drive through one of the picnic areas, we happened to glance towards the lake and saw hundreds of American White Pelicans and what looked like hundreds more of Double-crested Cormorants. In this photo, I decided to change to aperture priority an set the camera to f8 to provide more depth of field, to capture more of this vast armada of water fowl. This is just a small portion of the crowd.
That exposure set-up worked out fine, but I made a rookie error and forgot to set the camera back to my original setting of Shutter priority for the rest of the session. But no harm, no foul, as the following photos came out very nice. Buy this time, it was getting near noon, but the weather hadn’t changed except for the temperature, which was a little warmer. Still very cloudy with occasional mist.
As you can see, you can get great photos if you dis-regard the cloudy skies and just take what comes at you. My ISOs varied, of course depending on whether the bird was in the open or in open shade or in the brush completely. I came home happily with some good results for my efforts. One additional thing I should mention, I am not foolish enough to shoot if it is raining. Cameras and water do not mix well.
I hope you enjoyed this post and the images. As I said, click any of the images to see some very nice enlargements.
Until the next post, Happy Birding!