Finding the Perfect Exposure

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Photographing shorebirds takes some exposure adjustments. In this video, expert wildlife photographer Doug Gardner sets up on a beach and looks for the perfect exposure to capture these active birds. It’s early morning, and the water is cool blue, the marsh grass a warm green. Doug measures his exposure off the water, his camera reading it as neutral gray. But most of the birds are white. He compensates by adding 2/3rds stop. For portraits, depending on the tonal value of each bird’s feathers, he suggests spot metering. For birds in flight, you might want to use aperture priority. Because of the extreme tonal range of birds, Doug recommends shooting in the golden light of early morning or a couple hours before dusk.

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See all videos in our Uncovering South Carolina’s Shorebirds Course: