Common Raven on the causeway to Antelope Island
Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 640, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited
Ravens hold a special place in my heart because they are smart (actually brilliant for birds), collectors of things shiny and/or odd, they let you know about their presence with hoarse croaking sounds and they are very amusing to observe and photograph.
Edgar Allan Poe considered them creepy, Native American’s regard them as tricksters and have marvelous stories about the birds. Me; I like them a lot.
They are a challenge to photograph and expose properly because of their dark feathers and features. Earlier this week I spotted a Common Raven perched on a rock on the north side of the Antelope Island causeway, it turned out to be a very cooperative subject by staying perched on the rock for a period of about 15 minutes which allowed me to use different EV compensation settings and apertures.
The issues with exposing this bird correctly were the lightness of the rock it was perched on and the light blue of the Great Salt Lake in the background. I needed to raise my EV compensation by +.07 to expose the blacks of the bird so details could be seen in the plumage but that left some areas of the rock a bit bright. I’ve found it easier to reduce exposure in light areas while post processing rather than trying to make dark tones lighter as that can introduce unnecessary noise in the dark areas. When I processed this file I brought the dark tones up slightly in ACR (Adobe Camera Raw), after that in Adobe Photoshop I selectively masked the perch and then brought the exposure down on just the rock.
What I liked most about this image in particular was the head angle and how the light showed the shiny iridescence of the Raven’s plumage. I also like the nice clean background.
Earlier in this post I mentioned that Common Ravens are “collectors of things shiny and/or odd” and I wanted to provide an example of that. A few days before I photographed the Common Raven above I was out on Antelope Island and there were about 8 birds floating around in the wind near the shoreline of the Great Salt Lake over a sagebrush covered hill. I had been trying to photograph the ravens in flight when I noticed that one of the birds appeared to be carrying something in its feet. I knew the light angle was not the best but I took some shots anyway so that I could see what it was the raven had in its feet. When I got home and reviewed those images on my screen I was amused and puzzled at the same time. I had guessed from the pinkish color of the object that it might have been a very young vole, I was wrong! Way wrong.
Common Raven with a Paddleball ball?
I believe that the object the Common Raven was a ball from the children’s game “Paddleball”, it wasn’t a vole at all. I remember playing with Paddleball when I was a child. The puzzling thing; for me anyway, was where did the Common Raven find a Paddleball ball on Antelope Island or how it found it at all in the abundant grasses and sagebrush.
Pretty amazing “collector”!