Last week I wrote a small blog post on one of my photographs looking at the importance of light.  Once you understand the different aspects of light and know how to control it with your camera, you can get creative with Exposure.  Exposure is defined as the amount of light allowed to fall on the sensor if digital, or film if not.  

An underexposed image means there will be large areas of detail lost to blacks and shadows whereas an overexposed image will look washed out with the details lost to bright whites.  Correctly exposed photographs will generally have a broad range of tones and will allow for the most amount of detail to be kept.  By understanding how your camera reads a scene, you can then take control of your exposure and get some stunning results:

"Back in Black"

Here is a photograph of a crested tit (Lophophanes cristatus) taken at a dedicated feeding station in the Cairngorms National Park, Scotland.  This is a true highland specialist here in the UK and can only be found in the remnants of Ancient Caledonian Pine-forest in North Scotland.  This was a bit of a bogey bird for me the previous year as I'd only ever caught glimpses of them at the tops of tall pine trees so it was fantastic to see them so close up.  

By positioning myself to shoot with the sun (instead of against it like with last weeks mallard), I would have the perch and bird nicely lit up from the front.  Directly behind the crested tit was a dark area of shadow created by tall pine trees.  I knew that my camera would be screaming out at me that the whole scene was too dark because of this large area of shadow, and it would naturally want to brighten it up to achieve what it could determine would be a correctly exposed image.  However, if the camera was allowed to brighten this shadow to get some detail out of it, the crested tit would be overexposed as a result.  Knowing this, I was able to set my camera to underexpose the scene (by 1 and 2/3 stops to those interested), therefore keeping the dark area dark and the important parts correctly exposed.

By doing this I achieved a uniform black background which makes this fantastic bird stand out even more, there are no distractions to lead away from the subject and all focus is placed on the bird.  If you want to improve your nature photography, really get to grips with your camera and understand when you can and can't trust it's readings.  Think about your backgrounds and if there's an area of shadow to shoot into, remember to control your exposure to achieve a beautiful new perspective.

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I'll be back on here next week with another photograph and more tips. 

Thanks for reading,