Steve Sampliner  

White-winged Black Tern by Steve Sampliner

May 2021 - White-winged Black Tern

May 2021 - Steve Sampliner


About the Image(s)

Pentax K1, Pentax 150-450mm lens, ISO 200, 380mm, f/6.3, 1/1250, taken April 22. Finally, was able to get a breeding adult male isolated from the flock. I went with a B&W conversion for this submission and a 16:9 ratio. I tried to apply some minimalist techniques in the post-processing. I played around with the B&W color balance to gain some texture in the image, particularly yellow and orange. Also increased blacks to make the tern really stand out better. The reasoning behind my approach is that I think that the white-winged black tern is an ideal bird for B&W conversion, and it highlights the minimalist beauty of the bird.

5 comments posted

Stanley Selkow   Stanley Selkow
Steve, clearly the name of the bird suggests an expression in B&W. And its beauty suggests a minimalist approach, especially standing in the water with no distractions. My only concern is that the black seems quite flat. I tried to play with it in LR, but given the limitations of size for posting here and my limited skills I couldn't find any way to bring out "unflatten" the black of the chest, stomach, head and back.   Posted: 05/03/2021 13:21:10
Steve Sampliner   Steve Sampliner
Hi Stanley, I agree with your assessment. The overall lack of shadows removes reference points that we visually use to calculate depth. I many ways, shadows are a necessity. I do like the discomfort, if that is the right word for it, that this image has. How big is white-winged black tern? The image offers zero reference. Now, I might be asking of the image. It appears to be almost at eye level, but is doesn't offer a distinctly different foreground and background, which also adds to its lack of depth.   Posted: 05/04/2021 01:14:07

Sophia Schade   Sophia Schade
Hi Steve, Thank you for introducing me to a new bird! What a beauty. I agree with Steve. The issue that exist is that it is photographed in the water and water that has movement so their is not a big contrast or reflection. If you have an opportunity to retake the picture, I would love to see it photographed on rocks or on a calm sunny day where you get a nice reflection. You might want to put it in light room and use a radial filter in order to get a bit of directed light on the head..   Posted: 05/05/2021 18:06:36
Steve Sampliner   Steve Sampliner
Hi Sophia, unfortunately I have not seen this bird again. These terns might have moved on. I agree that a more interesting environment would really add to the image, but he is in his happy place. I only saw these terns in these shallows in the late morning to early afternoon when the sun is at its worst for getting photos of white and black birds. This is where they came to wash up and relax. This was even a new bird to local wildlife photographer, so I don't know if it was just a unique occurrence that they were at this location for those few weeks.   Posted: 05/12/2021 07:55:33

Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
(Groups 36 & 67)
While I applaud the minimalist approach and even the choice to convert to monotone I will agree with others that the image feel quite "flat". To me, you have not used the full range of the tonal scale and that is what produces a more greyish series of overtones. One cause for this in the very excessive crop you use. This excessive crop exposes the fact that your bird is simply composed of far too few pixels and thus detail is softened or eliminates. This is especially true when you try to open the shadows of a black bird. The result is a fairly muddy looking subject. You might try to increase contrast but I fear there is simply not enough detail to work with.   Posted: 05/08/2021 14:58:35


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