Bring Back the Sky in your wildlife images

Photography is all about adding your own perspective to images and today I would want to talk about the Sky and how it can bring about a different perspective.

Now, we all know the beautiful effect an orange sky has on your images (Silhouettes, against-light) but today I am going to talk about Blue skies. 

I often see a lot of people choose the green/brown backgrounds over those involving the sky. When one starts of with photography, there is a notion, a mind-set that is developed that sky background = bad background. Well, I agree that washed out skies as background, and in a lot of cases just the sky as the background does not give the most appealing of images. Take a look at the following images. The one with the sky has a dull dead wash to it. Definitely not something that appeals to me.

Now, for a moment, imagine a background of a mix of sky and a bit of the surrounding. As long as the sky has a nice blue this works like a charm. Take a look at the images below for e.g. The image on the right gives a completely different perspective. One that is not normally seen and thats whats going to make your photography grow.

As is obvious, it is the same bird clicked at the same place during the same session. Now while the image on the left works perfectly fine, it looks a tad drab against the vibrant sky of the image on the right.  How do you achieve it, well just go a couple of inches lower if possible. Incase the subject is on the ground, this means ditching the bean bag and going for either a ground pod or just plain keeping the camera on the ground, to go as low as possible

Now lets talk about the sky and achieving that blue for a minute. Notice the two images below. What do you think changed between the two? Yes there is an approx. 2 degree change in the birds head angle, but apart from that what changed to get a rich blue and green in the left image vs the dull green and gray of the image on the right.

What changed is the White-Balance. I chose a cooler white balance to enhance the blueness of the image because I wanted a richer feel. That blue sky works better in this case than the drab gray. Next time you get an opportunity of spending some time with your subject, do try if you can include a bit of the sky and then go about framing the rest. Here is another one for e.g. where the blue adds a punch. It might be the water in this case but i’ve included it to show the value that blue adds..

Does the sky always have to be blue? Well not really. A lot of times the angle of the shoot defines the mood and in a lot of cases just having the sky there changes the perspective. Do I recommend including the sky always? No not at all. I just want you to be aware about the possibility of including the sky in your images and how it can enhance the appeal

Here are a few images made by my friends Yashpal Rathore, Aditya Dicky SinghLaksh Kalyanaraman and Sandeep Mall. Take a look at how adding the sky has added to the effect that the image has. Do take a look at their work on their facebook pages as well. I’m sure it will be a great learning experience.

So next time you are out to click, keep an eye out for the sky as well and if you have reached thus far in the post then here is a brownie point for you : The Sky would generally throw off your camera metering so watch out for that and be ready to dial in an Exposure Compensation.

To end with a typical scene from Jorbeed (Bikaner) where you will get tonnes of opportunities to try these backgrounds that bring some more meaning to the image

 

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8 Comments

  1. Kintoo June 5, 2017 at 5:59 am #

    Truly amazing. And I Got It sir !!!
    Thanks.

  2. Prasanna R June 6, 2017 at 2:55 am #

    Thank you sir. This will add some value to the images. Please do enlighten about focus points someday.

  3. amit joshi July 26, 2017 at 10:25 am #

    Hi Rahul,
    this one is fabulous too as all your other blogs too. very informative, simple and to the point.
    just one doubt or question which in itself can be wrong – few times i have tried to change the white balance i faced with problem of – the colours of feathers change(as in does not look as original had I not changed the WB).
    is this normal ? or am I doing something wrong ? half cooked?
    what can be done to not loose the originality?

    Regards,
    Amit

    • rahul.sachdev@gmail.com July 26, 2017 at 11:29 am #

      Can you give me a sample image that I can look at. WB can change the color tonality of your image so for example if you are out in the daylight and choose Fluorescent light as your preset WB or dial the Custom WB to some values like 2500-3000 you are bound to get images that will not depict the sun-lit scene in the correct colors. Having said that, WB can be used creatively when you are looking for one shade to be dominating the scene (for e.g. in silhouettes)

      • amit joshi August 16, 2017 at 9:47 am #

        Hello,

        Can you take a look at –
        https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10153408917281527&set=pb.678036526.-2207520000.1502876612.&type=3&theater
        Or else How/Where Can I send you sample image?

        I had tried to alter WB but then it loses its teal or peacock like green shade and gets darker towards brown or other way around to faded.

        May be I tried on the wrong composition or is something to be done in post processing too?

        Regards,
        Amit

        • rahul.sachdev@gmail.com August 25, 2017 at 6:37 am #

          Amit, I saw the image. I doubt WB altering for the blues will help here. Try this with some images where you have included the sky in the frame and it might work better. Let me know how it goes.

          • amit joshi August 29, 2017 at 2:57 pm #

            Yes Sir, sure.
            Can I share those here as before and after ?

            Regards,
            Amit

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