Photography Times: Silhouetted Seagull

March 09, 2010

There are moments as these when taking a photograph is just a you-get-it-or-you-lose-it affair. Especially when the subject of your photo is a bird, and all the more when you try to silhouette the bird while it flew at an angle just beside the setting sun.

I spent the Christmas holidays on the West coast. The last leg of my vacation was a scenic drive through the CA-1 highway from Los Angeles to San Diego. The route ran about 20 meters from the ocean on one side and a rising cliff on the other, until it merged into the mainland at Dana Point.

After stopping for a coffee at the Dana Point harbor, the drive resumed through the I-5 highway, trying to reach Encinitas, 30 miles before San Diego, before sunset. I was looking forward to some sunset photography at Swamy's beach, at the small quaint seaside village of Encinitas.

Sunrise and sunset are probably the favorite times of the day for any photographer. With the sun down on the horizon, its distinct colors and reflections on the earth and water provide abundant scope for creative ways of photographing regular subjects. Silhouettes being one of them. Forming an absolute silhouette of the subject, with the glowing sun in the background with other appropriate colors and reflections of the setting sun and its innumerable variations is always one of my personal favorites.

As the drive went over I-5, flanked by gorgeous valleys and high rise cliffs on either side, we halted at the Vista Point - about 50 miles from Encinitas, and the sun beginning its dip down the horizon. The view from the Vista Point was breathtaking - the magnificent Pacific stretching like only it would, with an aerial view of mainland on one side and Mexico on the other direction; not to forget the setting sun.

During sunrise and sunset, it's important to keep the focus just beside the sun and also not miss the subject, lest you end up with a photo that is completely dark. Unlike other times when I tend to experiment with exposures and apertures, attempting to silhouette a flying bird is just a matter of you get it right the first time, or you keep waiting until another one flies past the sun.

After missing a few birds that either missed the sun or missed the camera, I managed to catch one that hovered just over the circumference of the sun.

Vidhya is an Independent Artist and a student of New York Institute of Photography. Twitter. Facebook. Facebook Photography Page. LinkedIn.
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