Manual Mode

Hornet's Nest at the Horicon Marsh

Hornet’s Nest

It is amazing to me that this papery swirl of a home is made from wood pulp and hornet spit.  How do hornets incorporate the leaves into it?  How many trips does it take to go from a tree to get a bit of wood, chew it while mixing it with saliva, and fly back to transform it into a nest?  I don’t know the answers to these questions but it is a work of art to be admired from afar.

Trumpeter Swan with Duck Friends at the Horicon Marsh

Trumpeter Swan with Ducks
f8, 1/1000 sec., ISO 200

I worked entirely in manual mode with my camera today.  I purposely sought out white birds in the sun in hopes of conquering the overexposure problem.  I set the ISO at 200.  All of the shots I am sharing today are taken at 600 mm.  I set the aperture at various openings.  Shutter speed was adjusted until the arrow on the exposure level scale in the viewfinder was at zero.  After taking a shot, I pressed the “info” button on the back of the camera and looked at the histogram.  I tried to keep the color that was farthest to the right on the graph just to the left of the right margin of the histogram. I adjusted the shutter speed as needed to achieve this.  I was much happier with the results of the shots of white birds that I took today compared to shots taken previously.  There is more light and shadow and more detail is preserved in the feathers.

Trumpeter Swan with Duck

Trumpeter Swan with Duck
f8, 1/500 sec., ISO 200

Tweaking needed to be done depending on how much of the white bird filled the frame and whether there were dark birds nearby.  As long as the photo data stayed just to the left of the right margin (for JPEG), detail was preserved and I could adjust shadows in Photoshop Elements during post processing.  If data climbed up the right margin of the histogram, detail was lost.  It could not be recovered in post processing.  I’m guessing the swans were loosening aquatic plants and the ducks were benefiting from the swan’s efforts.

Great Egret at the Horicon Marsh

Great Egret
f8, 1/1000 sec., ISO 200

Manual mode isn’t quite so intimidating now.  I’m excited to continue to play with and to learn how to improve my exposures even more.

Great Egret at the Horicon Marsh

Great Egret
f13, 1/400 sec., ISO 200

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