Recently I visited the Białowieski park Naradowy in Poland, a European Bison reservation.
Photographing animals is always challenging, they are unpredictable and never seem to stay still when you need them to! However, I was looking forward to seeing European Bison "up close", and taking photos of these animals that once roamed around Europe.
Bison are frequently associated with the open plains of America, but they actually also roamed around Europe in much the same way.
Photographing these beasts has it's challenges, with being a dark brown fur set against the white snow your camera always wants to try and expose for the snow. Despite having white snow around, the day that I arrived was overcast and grey, and the lighting wasn't great, making shutter speed an issue. Shooting with my Sony A99 and Minolta "beercan" 70-210mm f/4 lens meant that I couldn't get as much light as I would have liked at low ISO, so I had to compensate by bumping the ISO to 200 to get shutter speeds at a reasonable rate. In hindsight I should have bumped it to 400 to keep the shutter even faster, but this is the reason for this blog, you can learn from my mistakes!
Exposing for detail in the dark brown fur was always top priority, creating good contrast will be important in post-processing to give these creatures the rugged look that they have. The last thing I wanted was to lose detail and make it look like they have a fluffy coat!
To achieve this I used the exposure compensation on my camera to add a couple of stops of exposure to make sure the shadows and darker part of the image still had detail. The exposure compensation setting on your camera enables you to 'override' your cameras guess at exposure that it has measured, and make the image lighter or darker (depending on what the situation is) than the camera has measured. The trick is to balance the details in the shadows and dark fur with the white snow, making sure that the snow is not 'blown out' to a complete white, and there is still shadows and greys within the snow.
Hopefully this post has given some food for thought and has been of some use to you, leave a comment below, let me know if you would like to hear anything else about the image.