Low light Gray Partridge in snowLow light Gray Partridge in snow – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/2500, ISO 1000, +2.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I mentioned in my Rough-legged Hawk post yesterday that I saw plenty of birds when I was up north and that the light wasn’t all that great at times. I saw Bald and Golden Eagles, Red-tailed and Rough-legged Hawks, Northern Harriers, Prairie Falcons, American Kestrels, Horned Larks, Western Meadowlarks, Red-winged Blackbirds, Turkeys, Chukars, Ring-necked Pheasants and Gray Partridges. I may have forgotten a species or two.

The surprise birds of the day were Gray Partridges in an area where I hadn’t seen them before and they were feeding close to the edge of the road.

I tried a few test shots to get my exposure set because the light was low and I was surprised that I had to bump my exposure up as high as I did to get the birds exposed well in the snowy setting. Not one of the images that I took showed that the whites were blown out on the histogram on my LCD screen so I started to photograph the partridges as they moved around on top of the snow and down snow banks. The exposure of the birds looked good on my camera’s LCD screen and when I zoomed in on a few of the images I could tell they were sharp, the colors in the feathers were vibrant and I could see nice details in the plumages of the partridges.

Gray Partridge walking down a bank of snowGray Partridge walking down a bank of snow – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/2500, ISO 1000, +2.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

When I got home and uploaded the files to my computer and viewed them on my screen I was so disappointed because even though not one of the images was overexposed I couldn’t see much detail at all in the snow, it was as if I had taken these images on a sheet of white paper in a studio.

I do as little post processing in Photoshop as possible on almost all of my images because in the field I do my best to get the images I am striving for. I love taking images, I don’t love sitting in front of my computer editing.

I felt like these partridge images were worth a little more time spent post processing them to see if I could tease a small amount of details out of the snow. I played around with the dehaze slider in ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) and then adjusted some of the mid-tones of the snow in a levels layer, brought down the exposure of the snow and I was able to bring out a few of those details. Not much, but they are there.

Gray Partridge walking in snowGray Partridge walking in snow – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/2000, ISO 1000, +2.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I’m not sure why the original files lacked detail in the snow, they weren’t over exposed, the details should have been visible right out of the camera.

I wish the light had been as bright when I photographed these partridges as it had been when I photographed the Rough-legged Hawk then I wouldn’t have needed to spend time teasing out the details in the snow in these images.

But light varies and bird photography isn’t always easy, it isn’t a cake walk. I think these Gray Partridge photos turned out okay.

Life is good.