Wildlife Elements

Once again I’ve been hit with the Peoria Plague. I am really getting tired of this, seeing as how it puts all my well laid plans into chaos – especially my running cycles which I cannot afford to be impacted at the moment.  The silver lining is I have to take it a little easier than usual which means … more time for posts!  Warning, this post is under the influence of cold drugs.

Today’s topic is more of a creative adventure than my typical wildlife shots. I’ve been seeing a lot of photographers going down the “Elements” path (add Peter Lik into that category). My take on elements is a breaking down of a shot to the bare essentials. An example may be just a leaf pedal, a single snowflake or some isolated pattern that is representative of the whole. This seems intriguing to me, but I do not shoot leaf pedals, snowflakes and just started exploring patterns – couple weeks back shots some ice plates that did not come out the way I’d envisioned. What I do shoot a lot of is wildlife. Although the overall composition does play into the overall picture, there is one “element” I focus on more than anything else. This would be the one point my focus point is always sitting on.

Yep, the eye.  The shots at the Indianapolis Zoo provided ample opportunity to try out what I refer to as Wildlife Elements.  The goal was to make the eye the focus point of the shot, but show enough overall pattern of the animal that it is instantly recognizable.  Full disclosure, in some cases I did manipulate the eye in the digital darkroom but kept to some basic rules.  I did not change the overall color of the eye staying true to the basic coloring native to the animal.  What I did do was apply some amplification to any color that was already there to.  I still wanted the eye to be focus of the picture and this allowed me to force more attention to it.  The zebra picture below is a good example of it – the sunlight was hitting the animal from the side giving a nice yellow highlight to the black and white striping.

At first I had the white balance adjusted to make the stripes more white than they are, but decided to dial it back to the “as shot” tone so it didn’t overwhelm the eye.  Those first two shots are probably my favorite of the set.  I find it interesting how different the “feel” is between the two elements.  The zebra almost has a calming effect to the point where you almost want to pet it.  Likely due to the non-aggressive nature of the composition – head down, submissive.  This is not the feeling I get from the first photo.  The wide open forward positioned eye immediately signifies predator.  Add to that the tight framing and the urge of flight starts coming to mind.

Hit the jump to view a few more Wildlife Elements!

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