Through the Lens: Vulture Silhouettes

01st February 2016
While waiting for some lions to get up from their slumbers and "do something", some Hooded Vultures flew up off the ground and landed on a dead branch in front of us. They too had been waiting for the lions, but in their case they wanted the lions to do something in the form of making droppings which they could then eat!! Unappealing as it may seem, there is a lot of goodness in lions' dung and Hooded Vultures make sure none is wasted.

Anyway, we all grabbed our cameras and started taking shots. With a bright sky such as this, there is a good chance that the image the camera produces will lack the deep, rich colours that the eye sees (remember that the light meter is programmed to make the image, on average, middle grey which is much lighter than the sky in our scene). So I suggested to my guests in the back to dial in -1 EV to reduce the exposure by one stop. The vultures will be a silhouette anyway, so losing more detail in the dark areas was not our concern.

We took several shots, and then the birds began to take off, seeking a roosting tree and were replaced by others coming up from the ground. Of course, when the birds were taking off, we all snapped away, hoping for a shot of one launching from the branch. Perhaps my guests got a shot that I didn't (I hope so!) but none of my "in-flight" shots were much good. Immediately that the vultures took flight, they lost their characteristic shape which makes them immediately identifiable.



In a silhouette shot, the shape of the creature is all you have to go on, so I chose this portrait of a pair of Vultures as my favourite of the sequence, naming it "the cold shoulder" on account of her stance towards her mate!

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