Moorhen-Portrait

Settings

Exposure: 1/160

Aperture: f/ 6.3

ISO-Sensitivity: ISO 1600

Focal Length: 600mm

Lens: Sigma 150-600mm F5-6,3

Camera: Nikon D850

Especially in winter, the moorhen can be found at almost all water bodies in the Bernese Seeland. Only a few minutes from my home I know a location where there are one or two moorhens almost all year round. The location is at a small river in the middle of my hometown. There, I could also photograph the beaver and the Common merganser. So, the animals seem to like it, despite the many people there. In the last two years the moorhens were probably even been breeding there. Unfortunately, I have never been able to photograph the young ones. But the adults are not too shy and so I tried to photograph them.

Although I had no trouble getting close to these birds, I didn’t get any good photos for a long time. This was mainly due to the dark plumage of the moorhen. Depending on the angle at which the sunlight hits the feathers, the plumage appears much brighter or almost completely black. No matter how I exposed the photos, some parts of the plumage were too bright, while other parts appeared too dark. The dark areas could not be brought back with Lightroom.

With the dense rain clouds in front of the sun, this phenomenon was somewhat diminished. The moorhen was busy with the feather care and did not interrupt it when I slowly laid down on the shore. A few meters behind the moorhen a group of reed plants were growing and made for a good background. From my previous attempts I had learned that a portrait did not work so well when the moorhen 'only' looked straight ahead. When a coot began to swim towards the moorhen, the moorhen tilted its head for a moment. I made sure that the focus was not on the beak but on one of the two eyes and took a series of photos. A moment later, the moorhen turned its head again.

During the post-processing I tried to weaken the effect of the feathers a bit more. I also decided on a somewhat special composition. I wanted to create the impression that the moorhen had just walked into the picture. In addition, I softened the reflection of the beak and the horn blaze a little bit, so that the colours stand out a little better.

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Nicolas Stettler

Weyernweg 27

2560 Nidau

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16.8.2022

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