Fun in the jungle - High key or low key? My wildlife pics with interesting lighting conditions

in Photography Lovers3 months ago

Think high key/ low key can not be used in wildlife photos? Seeking your verdict...

I used to think these techniques are not for Wildlife clicks. Used to always look for good light conditions and 'golden hour'. It was not always possible. I encountered conditions, where I had slogged for hours to track a bird or an animal and suddenly found it but with the most horrible of light conditions. In spite of this, I managed to take some images...

If you want something to look interesting, don't light all of it - John Loengard

I used to read this quote and think - 'meh - all this stuff is for studio portrait photos'

I found out, through experience, that I could do this in wildlife photos too!

The pretty Sirkeer Malkoha in a red leaf plant

It was almost 4pm when I finally located this pretty bird with a red beak, sitting in a red leaf tree. I felt elated for having located the bird but felt dejected because it was sitting with a background of grey dull sky - totally against light and with light rain starting to fall.

I did not want to lose the opportunity to photograph the bird and with the light almost gone, I was not going to get another chance to find it on a better perch. So I shot this pic with enough exposure to get a high key image with the grey sky blowing out to almost bright white but the bird exposed correctly.


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Makes a real pretty picture - almost like a painting don't you think?

Spur fowl in total dark under thick jungle canopy

I wanted to click painted spurfowls. The problem was these shy birds are always in thick forests. I spotted couple of them but the forest canopy was so thick that I could not get a shot even at very very low shutter speeds.
So, I decided to wait for one of them to wander into a spot of sun ray shining through the canopy and take a low key shot with just the bird exposed correctly. This was necessary to get some decent shutter speed, needed for a hand held shot. The result was the image below...


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The background went totally dark and the bird looked like being on stage in spotlight. 😀

Black-naped monarch High key and low key on the same day!

This pretty blue bird flits in and out of forest canopies in spit seconds. It never stops in one place for more that 2-3 seconds most of the times. So, I have to try to click it when I see it - unless I am prepared to wait for that lucky moment when it perches on a clean branch with nice green bokeh background. Well, I am still waiting for my luck to work for that shot but in the meanwhile, I clicked the bird in bright sunshine against light and in dark forest canopy to get these high key and low key close up shots...


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This is the high key image and here is the low key one...

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Same bird but looks different with high key and low key techniques - doesn't it?

Pretty common iora in yellow flowers setting

Last but not the least - This was a totally unintentional high key image. The bird landed on such a pretty perch but the background was a stark white compound wall! I decided to take a shot and it turned out high key like!! 😀


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I think the high key emphasizes the yellow of the bird and the matching flowers and works actually better than a green bokeh.

What do you think about the high key and low key technique for wildlife/bird photos? Do you think they make it possible to take interesting photos even in non-ideal light conditions?

Hope you enjoyed seeing the images. I will try to bring many different types of wildlife photos/macro/Astro posts to the community. Feedback and comments are welcome,. I am still learning many techniques and always value feedback from experts in this community.

Have a nice day everyone. Cheers!


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Hi! Wow, so gorgeous images! They look like paintings. :)

@coquicoin Thanks for the appreciation. Yes typically these pics look like stylized images or paintings. That is the reason I was not sure if I could use the technique in wildlife photography. Due to the light conditions, I tried this technique and turned out to be pleasing images 😀

They are pleasant and very beautiful.
Have an awesome day 😄

Thank you. Wish you a wonderful day too 😀

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😄😊😄

Excellent shots!

Thank you so much. Appreciation from you is always such a morale booster for me.

Those are awesome!!! The different lighting really does make the pictures look special.

What other types of wildlife do you have in your area?

This post has been manually curated by the VYB curation project

Thank you so much for your kind encouragement. I have been able to click about 100-150 species of birds and some wildlife like foxes, jackals, mongoose, snakes etc. in about a 100 KM radius around my place. Was lucky to get tigers and leopards in a wildlife sanctuary but that was far away from home.

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Seems like both work!

One thought I had was the low-key shots would work well on metal prints.

@pfunk Thank you for confirming. Will experiment more in future and share. I have never actually printed or published my clicks. Never had the occasion to. I actually did not even publish but since I have come to Hive, I have started publishing here. If someone, someday, orders any prints, will try out the metal print too. Thanks for the suggestion and thank you for taking the time to visit my post.

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Those shots are amazing! What camera did you used? With my bridge camera it's hard to take decent photos under not perfect conditions (that and my poor technique probably!). 😁

Hi. I used D500 nikon. You are right about the capabilities of the bridge camera. I used P900 bridge camera before and though it produced fantastic images in daylight, it could not perform well in bad light conditions. I am sure your technique is fine

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Always good for improvement, but feel better knowing that! ;)

Hi Vishwas

I just came across your account and must say I am quite in awe. For years I have been working at improving my techniques on photographing wildlife (mostly birds) but also landscapes and so on and tips like this with the contrast of low and high key is very useful at illustrating how it can add to or take away from an image. I think it also depends on what you want to use the image for. I will play with this a bit in Photoshop and see what I come up with.

Thanks for a refreshingly interesting photography post, I enjoyed it immensely.

Have a good weekend coming up.