Chukar in low lightChukar in low light – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 500, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

Every bird photographer should want to photograph in what is called “sweet light”, the golden light found just after the sun rises or when it is getting close to sunset and avoid the light of mid day when there can be harsh shadows and too much contrast but also recognize that other light can add a feeling of moodiness to an image that might not be there in different light.

For instance; when I look at these two snowy Chukar images I sense a moodiness in the first image that the second one doesn’t seem to convey. One of the photos was taken in bright, clear light while the other was created in low, foggy light on two different days but in the same general location on Antelope Island State Park.

In the Chukar image above I sense that the bird might be struggling to survive the harshness of winter, I get a sense of the bird being alone even though close by there were other Chukars and I also feel that the bird might be enduring a strong wind because of the tiny, directional snow drifts around the grasses near the front of the bird even though the wind was actually not blowing at the time. The low light seems to amplify the moodiness I feel while looking at this image.

Chukar running in clear lightChukar running in clear light – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 500, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

The snowy Chukar image above was taken on a much brighter day, there was no snow falling and no trace of fog. The habitat and terrain is essentially the same; minus the grasses seen in front of the Chukar in the image above, yet to my eyes this image does not have the moodiness the top image does.

In my mind I think more about how the Chukar survives in winter in the first image than I do in the second frame and I seem to view the image longer too.