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Wildlife and Nature Photography Tips 21- Comping to get the Right Exposure

Night flight of Bats

Sometimes we have to deal with difficult lighting conditions when shooting in the field. With that, comes a list of sacrifices to accept in order to obtain something we might want as a final result.

The example here was a two-fold problem. I wanted to capture the sunset as a part of the scenic I was viewing. Since the sun was setting, I had to slow down the shutter speed which enabled me to include some information in the scene without creating too much of a silhouette. I used a slow shutter speed to capture this. The only problem was that the bats were moving very fast which required shutter speeds over 350th/sec. Here is what I did as a compromise. The first image shows the landscape taken with the Sigma 150-600 Sport and Nikon D810 body. I shot a series, bracketing the scene. I ultimately chose the one you see below. Fig 1.

The second shot was taken with D500 with a 200-500 lens. I pushed the shutter up to 350 sec at f8 @ISO 4500. This was enough to reduce some of the action blur in the wings of the bats. Fig 2

I then brought the two images into layers in On1 and stripped the sky from the bats, boosted the contrast to make them a darker silhouette, and threw a glow to the background scenic to reduce the noise and also cloned out the background distractions..

This finally provided me with the image you see here. Not perfect, but there was no way I could have gotten the sunset and the bats in the same image without losing some of the scene. Fig 3

In the future, when you come across difficult lighting situations, you might like to consider taking multiple shots and comping them into a single image. It takes longer in the digital darkroom, but the results can be rewarding none the less. As always, Happy Shooting.

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