Mystery Abstract Revealed & Wildlife Lighting Tip

Mystery Abstract Revealed

So I had multiple guess on what this mystery abstract is:

Mystery Abstract

Mystery Abstract

Guesses ranged from pine cone to metallic chicken.  I can see how the sheen could lead someone to believe it’s metallic.  But leave it to one of my high school classmates (proudly raised farm girl I might add) to guess it correctly…it’s actually the “dusky brown, barred with black, with iridescent bronze sheen” feathers of a wild turkey (Meleagris gallapovo).

Juvenile Wild Turkey at Sunset

Juvenile Wild Turkey at Sunset

That quote was the way that the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds, Western Region describes the wild turkey’s appearance.  Considering that I, quite literally, have dozens upon dozens of wild turkeys that roam our neighborhood, I never noticed the iridescent nature of their feathers before.  Until last night when I noticed four Tom’s scrounging on the hillside over our back yard fence.  I quickly grabbed my camera (which had the flash unit on it from photographing Matthew), swapped lenses to my 70-200mm 2.8L zoom and walked out to our back fence.  With the flash illuminating the turkeys, the iridescence quickly became apparent.  And while these are true wild turkeys, they are so use to humans (and the bird feeder scrapes from my backyard) that they make reasonable models.

Note: The above abstract is a full sized crop of the second photo.

Wildlife Lighting Tip

When I’m out photographing nature, I always try to take along at least one flash unit.  It’s not always the piece of photographic equipment that first comes to mind when photographing a landscape or wildlife.  But it can come in very handy to help balance out the light.  There is another piece of equipment that can be just as handy to have, which I will explain in a second.

For example, these photos of the wild turkeys had them in the shade with the sun setting just around the corner of the hill.  The sunlight made for this wonderful background for these images, but the turkeys were not light up.  By using the Canon Speedlight 580 EX on my Canon 5D Mark II and playing around with the amount of flash the 580 EX provided, I was able to add just the right amount of fill light to the scene to help the turkeys stand out.

Turkey Shoot...No Flash

Turkey Shoot...No Flash

Turkey Shoot...with Flash

Turkey Shoot...with Flash

But, there still isn’t something right with the fill flash in the second photo.  The fill flash is white, while the sunset background is yellow.  This is where the second piece of photographic equipment comes in:  colored gels for the flash.  I own a few sets of HonlPhoto Filter Kits which contain multiple colored gels and use a Velcro strap to attach the gels over the front of most external flash units.

By putting a colored gel over the flash, you can alter the color of the flash light to fit the needs of your lighting situation.  In this case I put a 1/2 CTO (light orange) gel over my flash to balance out the background lighting with the fill lighting I’m artificially adding.  The result is a much more balanced looking photo:

Turkey Shoot...Properly Color Balanced Fill Flash

Turkey Shoot...Properly Color Balanced Fill Flash

So, colored gel’s for your flashes are not just for portrait photographers anymore…the nice thing is that they are so light you’ll never notice them in your camera bag…on that 25 mile hike into the wilderness or exploring the wildlife in your own backyard.

These turkey photos are part of my Backyard Wildlife collection.

Gear Referenced

The following gear was referenced in this article:

If you’re interested in any of these items, purchasing them from my blog sponsor B&H Photo using the above links will help to support this site.  Thanks!

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