View Full Version : A Lesson in Working a Subject

Arthur Morris
02-16-2008, 07:46 PM
I created the first of the three Wild Turkey images from the car using a BLUBB (Big Lens Ultimate Beanbag) for support with the 500 IS lens and the 1.4X II TC. I made sure (with all three images) to be right on sun angle. The turkeys at Indian Lake Estates are relatively tame and I could have gone if for a head portrait right off the back but I liked the wildflowers so I went wide for the environmental portrait. (#1)

Then I moved in closer and made the second image, the vertical head and breast portrait, making sure to include the spiffy black feathers on the chest. (#2)

Then I played the Wild Turkey call on my i-pod with a device that transmits to the FM vehicle radio. As expected, they became curious and walked slowly up to the car. I replaced the 1.4X with the 2X TC and made the third image, the tight vertical head portrait. (#3)

By varying the distance to your subject and your effective focal length (by addding or subtracting teleconverters) it is possible to come up with a variety of images in a given situation.

Feel free to comment on any or all of the images but do let me know which one you like best. I like all three equally...

Don't be shy. All comments welcome. Later and love, artie

Exposure data:

#1: Evaluative Metering +1/3 stop: 1/800 at f/6.3.
#2: Evaluative Metering +1/3 stop: 1/500 sec. at f/8 set manually.
#3: Manual Mode: 1/400 sec. at f/11 (confirmed by histogram check)

Jean-Luc Vaillant
02-16-2008, 08:02 PM
Stunning images and great demonstration of "thinking" to capture the best of the subject.

My preferences: #3, #1 (I LOVE both) then #2. #3 seems a bit underexposed compare to the other 2.


Alan Murphy
02-16-2008, 08:14 PM
All three are each in their own just excellent! But the ultimage Turkey image has to be the first one. The low angle (I know you were in your car) but the distance give that low profile with OOF foreground and background. The comp with the bird looking into the space and the little wildflowers are wonderful. The light is sweet too, and the processing just screams complete control. So i have to find a nit,right? Well, in image two, the birds hairs from the nose flap are touching his neck (mine does that sometimes :-)

Fernando Cerra
02-16-2008, 08:29 PM
Artie, picture number One is the One for me ! I just donīt go for the technical perfection, but the compositon and the expresion of the turkey, makes it come alive !

Gayle Clement
02-16-2008, 08:34 PM
I love the third one (color and detail, the best turkey portrait I've ever seen) and the first one for the color, the background and the contrasting delicacy of the flowers.

Bob Blanchard
02-16-2008, 08:37 PM
Great stuff Artie. Sounds like I need to reload my IPOD with some new tunes :D Geat input there! - Thanks!

-BTW - The BLUBB is absolutely the best thing since sliced bread. It's my new favorite ground pod.

PS - Would love to see EXIF on these.

Steve Canuel
02-16-2008, 09:11 PM
I like #1 the best because I personally prefer environmental inclusion. But I also like the comp and pose. The slight bend of the left leg, the flowing tassel thing (forgot what its called) in the middle of the chest, and the turn of the head give the impression that he was heading out of the frame and then turned in midstep to see who was calling him. 2 and 3 have great color and detail but turkeys are just to ugly for close ups IMO.

Adams Serra
02-16-2008, 09:15 PM
Hi Artie,
they all look great but #1 is my favorite,turkeys have a face for radio.

Amy DeStefanis
02-16-2008, 09:35 PM
I personally just keep going back to the 3rd - maybe it's the fascination with both the ugliness of the details and the beauty of them, as well. The beautiful subtle colors, the light, the gleam in the bird's eye - and then the bristly hairs, the "pores", the bulbous red (what are they called?). I can tear myself away from the other two after admiring the light and the composition with the wildflowers, and the detail of the breast feathers. But the 3rd one has me hypnotized.

I like the surprising affect of finding the beauty in unexpected places. One of my favorite personal pictures is shot into the open gill of a grouper underwater. Great colors in there!

Judy Lynn Malloch
02-16-2008, 09:41 PM
Absolutely incredible captures Artie and extremely informative to learn your method of capturing these stunning images. Thanks for all the valuable info and for sharing it this with us.
There is so much to learn and I appreciate your help. Thanks.

Terry Olmsted
02-16-2008, 09:53 PM
Thanks very much for the lesson, Artie. My favorite image is No. 1. Great composition with the environmental elements. Wish my subjects would stick around long enough to practice on them :)

Milo Burcham
02-16-2008, 11:04 PM
They all work for me. I think I like 3 the best for the details but he flowers are a great touch in 1. The bird looks a little off-balance in the first shot, which at first made me wonder if it needed roatation but he horizon looks right on. All beauties!

Manos Papadomanolakis
02-17-2008, 12:47 AM
Hi Artie,
they all look great but #3 is my favorite(the best turkey portrait I've ever seen)!!!

Axel Hildebrandt
02-17-2008, 06:58 AM
Gorgeous light, details and setting. Thanks for sharing your approach. I like them all but the first one is special because of the beautiful setting. Maybe a tad less contrast?

Arthur Morris
02-17-2008, 07:07 AM
Thanks to all who commented.

Bob, I have added the EXP data to the original post.

Steve (and Milo), One of the three toms had a bad leg, thus the appearance of the image not being exaclty square to the world. (It is; I had my Bubble Level in the hot shoe...) I beleive that the same bird is in the frame. For #1 I had not begun playing the tape yet. As I drove into proper sun angle position the bird was stopped in the flowers. The flower patterns were nice to his right so I used One-Shot AF, focused on the eye, and waited for him to look to his left. He was very cooperative and did that several times, all-the-while staying in the same position...

Later and love to all, artie

paul leverington
02-17-2008, 09:31 AM
No. 1 .. Another compositional point of interest going on with this version worth mentioning is the principle of opposing spots to achieve compositional balance. In this case the head of the turkey on the left up high, and the flowers on the right down low, and both being of similar color and in direct opposition create further sense of balance and harmony throughout the composition. This principle--even though the shot is already in balance in compositional unit weights between the left and right, really puts balance over the top. This principle of "opposing spots" can be so powerfu at times as to completely balance an otherwise unbalanced composition. Another trick in the bag to pull out once and a while. The ONLY thing that even bothers me about the shot is that the foreground is just a litttle too OOF, but it isn't at all a big problem overall. It's just a little distracting. Do you think you could have gone with a F8 or even a 10 and front focused manully ever so slightly to keep the BG blur yet get more of the forground in focus? Seems even at 1/125 second you'd still get a sharp shot. In my shots it's getting so frustrating loosing overall sharpness on larger birds cause I'm always focussig on the head--but then that leaves all that territory in front of the face that's in focus unused. I'm trying now to know my lens better so that at known distances I know what the DOF is going to be for my most critical F stops and the focus more appropriately on the chest or neck area to get more of the bird in focus whether it's end to end or wingtip to wingtip.I ws so in the habit of just staying on the head for focus for fear of loosing that critical part.


Sabyasachi Patra
02-17-2008, 10:47 AM
I love the #1 and #3, and in that order. I love the background in the first shot. Nice image. The third shot is a very nice composition. Did you use the 1DMark III or the 1DS MarkIII?

Doug Brown
02-17-2008, 10:48 AM
A vote for #3 here, although I like all of them.

Grady Weed
02-17-2008, 01:07 PM
Well I think this a very interesting thread. We all have varied tastes in portraits, close up shots and habitat inclusion. I personally like habitat shots the most. But the second image is a real beauty. And to me it is the best. I have photographed wild turkeys up here in Maine every winter, spring and fall for 5 years running. All 3 have excellent color.

#1 has very nice habitat and surrounding environment. Perhaps some space cropped off of the right side, just a little however. This one would be a nice layout for a sports magazine, although I do not hunt. It gives the viewer a very nice feel for where the subject lives and puts in a friendly lived in environment. Well done.

#2 is the best to me for several reasons. It is more up close, has a brighter bg that the 3rd one, although the two bg's are very much similar. The bg in 2 highlights the head and sets it off more or brightens it up. The chest's varied hues of browns, reds and iridescent colors are effectively displayed. The blue head is nicely displayed, off set by the slightly white top and the beard is highlighted but does not grab the attention from the other aspects of the portrait. Rather it adds to the overall frame. The composition and choice of framing or crop is the best for the chosen created image. A very very nicely done image.

The 3rd one is a bit too close for me. Not to say it is a bad photo. I do like wild turkey's. I have spent many below 0 dark hours in the blind waiting for the sun to come up or the blowing cold wind, just to get a up close, 3-10 feet away but often more like 15 feet away, opportunity to photograph them. It does have some powerful features I do like. It has excellent details and is properly framed. It just seems a bit dark to me. The blue head is nicely shown. But the white portion on the top of the head is not contrasted enough to really set it off. That blue and the eye really make the photo of a tom stand out. It the bg were a bit brighter it would give #2 a big run for the money.

This is an excellent way to teach and show others a good comparative photo critique. I hope that sounds right. I really enjoyed this thread. I don't think I have seen this kind of photography teaching method in a very long time. An excellent tool made available here. It is obvious you knew what you wanted when you clicked the shutter, rather than just happen upon the scene and made the best of it. Or just simply fired away and hoped you got something. My thanks for letting me have this opportunity.

Gautam Biswas
02-17-2008, 01:34 PM
Dear Artie,
Thanks for this thread. It is very educative.
One question- you set the evaluative metering to +1/3 in the first two images. By the look of the image, it would have occured to me an overall average tone and I believe you had some sunshine atleast. This is somewhat different from your recommendation in the Art of Bird Photography II p503. Is it because of the 1DIII. Do you have different recommendation for the 1DIII ( I think I read in one of your comments that the 1DIII metering was different).

Ian McHenry
02-17-2008, 01:41 PM
No #2 gets my vote Artie.

Arthur Morris
02-17-2008, 02:06 PM
Gautam, The light was very soft and early, so a bit of + was needed. In addition, I find that the MIII bodies (both of them) need more light to achieve a proper histogram than any previous bodies. #s 1 and 2 would surely have been OK at +2/3.

Later and love and thanks to all for their kind words.


ps: No surprise, my favorite is #3. Signed, The Headhunter...

Stephen Earle
02-17-2008, 03:05 PM
I have to say that my vote goes for #2. This is the first ever photograph of this species that I've seen and without #2 I would not have known that it has those remarkable colours in the feathering on the chest. To me that's the best part of this bird and #2 shows that of beautifully.

Travis Novitsky
02-17-2008, 05:24 PM
My favorite is the first one, the environmental portrait. Great lessons here on 'working the subject'. Reminds me of your book......its good to get images as you approach your subject (or in this case as your subject approaches you) as you never know just when they will fly off!

Mary Stamper
02-17-2008, 07:54 PM
I like all of them, but I like the 2nd one because it shows the remarkable breast feathers. The 3rd one is downright fascinating. What a face! And I thought Moscovy Ducks were beauties! :D

Krijn Trimbos
02-18-2008, 03:47 AM
Hi Artie,
They are all amazing! The second one makes me keep looking at the scaly feather patern which is gorgeous, the third one is beautiful due to the amazing detail in the wattle structure on his head. But the 1st one is definetely the one for me! The headturn, BG, low angle and those beautiful flowers are just perfect! The only very little thing I would like to see is how this would look with the subject a little more to the right (getting more of a tradional 1/3, 2/3 composition). Anyway thanks for sharing these different views of the same subject. Very cool!

Juan Carlos Vindas
03-23-2008, 01:11 PM
Artie, to me, they all are great images, but my favorite is number 3, this is the first time I see a turkey portrait and that makes for me, besides, the details are fantastic. great job.