Cindy Marple  

Backlit Anhinga by Cindy Marple

September 2023 - Backlit Anhinga

September 2023 - Cindy Marple


About the Image(s)

Anhingas were a frequent sighting along the rivers in Brazil’s Pantanal. Their feathers aren’t water-resistant like ducks are, due to the lack of oil, so they must periodically dry the wings by outstretching them like this. We came across this backlit bird, and our boatman navigated us carefully within range of it, keeping the angle for the backlight. I did get other images where the background was more uniformly dark. I’m curious to know what others think about the bit of green vegetation as background, rather than all-dark? Post-processing: I’ve obviously cropped this “ we did get much closer, but not with this background - and brightened the bird a bit using the shadow slider. Also toned down the bright bit on the stump.Nikon Z9, 500mm, ISO640, 1/800, f/5.6.

This round’s discussion is now closed!
8 comments posted

Bruce Benson   Bruce Benson
Hey Cindy, Anhingas are always fun to photograph, giving interesting poses. For me your background may be just a bit dark but not by much. I took the image into photoshop camera raw and selected the bird then tried to bring out some detail in the underside of the backlit wings and tail using the blacks and shadows sliders. Bruce   Posted: 09/01/2023 21:34:31
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Steve Cole   Steve Cole
Nice bird capture. Sharp, action, and in its environment. As noted previously opening shadows wings would show the nice detail in the wings. The contrast green background does distract a bit perhaps apply some blur to the background might be effective.   Posted: 09/02/2023 22:26:41

Cindy Marple   Cindy Marple
Thanks Steve and Bruce for your inputs. My intent here was a high contrast, backlit image. I guess the sun angle was too high though and I didn't get any light coming through the wings that would've helped with the detail. I've made another version, bringing out a bit more detail, but trying to preserve the high contrast look.   Posted: 09/08/2023 17:20:00
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Adrian Binney   Adrian Binney
Cindy, they are lovely birds: I've seen them in Costa Rica and always with their wings open like yours here, drying its wings. We want to visit the Pananals, our trip was Covid cancelled.

Their wings I think are thick, so not much light will come through them when backlight - I thus agree with your high contrast approach. Your 2nd version retains this while maintaining a believable amount of light on our side. It also keeps the viewer's attention on the lighter head and edges nicely.

As to your question, I like the green background as this is an environment image. I don't find it distracting and under these circumstances, I play with negative use of white, texture and clarity sliders to keep the background visible, while trying to leave it saying 'don't look at me'!

Lovely image.   Posted: 09/12/2023 01:25:58

Jerry Biddlecom   Jerry Biddlecom
I like the idea of your attempt. Could you have used some flash fill along with a Better Beamer type device in order to bring out more of the wing detail?   Posted: 09/12/2023 06:20:49
Cindy Marple   Cindy Marple
I didn't take a flash with me on the trip. But I probably wouldn't have used it anyway because detail wasn't the intent for this image with the backlight.   Posted: 09/13/2023 22:19:55

Tom Buckard   Tom Buckard
(Groups 21 & 48 & 71)
Hi Cindy, love your second version. So much detail, great eye and the leading line perch makes it. Well done.   Posted: 09/16/2023 07:23:53

Marge Barham   Marge Barham
Hi Cindy, I happen to love how you caught the light outlining around the wings, tail and the head. I am guessing that is what you were looking for to begin with. You caught a great position and your crop is perfect. Well done.   Posted: 09/18/2023 22:29:53