“Light makes a photograph. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light.
Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the (a) key to photography.”
So said George Eastman. Founder of the Eastman Kodak Company, and man who went on to amass a fortune at his death that, today would be around $2 Billion.
I wondered for all that, if there was a collection of photographs somewhere taken by a man who Embraced, Admired, Loved and Knew light.
But sad to say he seems to have left very little of a body of work that could be said to be the photography of George Eastman.
Here is a link to an image of Eastman using a Kodak Number 2 camera while on board the S. S. Gallia in 1890
He was enamoured with motion pictures and carried a 16mm camera on his travels. From those journeys a number of documentaries of various places were made in the 1920s. He also regularly travelled to Game Hunting Safaris in Africa.
I can recall seeing some book or documentary once, that showed Eastman, the ‘White Hunter’ in suitable garb posing around the bodies of dead beasts, but no doubt the majority of those photos would have been taken by his handlers.
Here is a link to one from the George Eastman House site. 2007-0007-0127-safari-ge-and-villager.jpg
We had been with BirdLife Werribee, formerly and now informally known “Werribee Wagtails” on a day outing to Ocean Grove.
The group was walking around Blue Waters Lake Reserve and had stopped to see several Nankeen Night Herons in an old willow tree, with its twisted branches and long fringes that made sighting just that bit difficult.
Also flying past down the centre of the lake from time to time were Royal Spoonbills. They had to sun behind them and looked a treat in brilliant white against the shady far shore of the lake.
I lost interest in hard to see Herons and became enthralled with both the spoonbills and the light so beautifully cascading through the feathers.
Exposure for such scenes is at best fraught with complications. As EE is known to say. “If I get the feather detail right, the background gets lost. If I keep the surrounds then the contrast takes out the feather details.” Or some combination of those words that expresses the difficulty of backlighting.
No hero lecture here. I choose exposure for the feathers, and will worry about where the background goes when I work out the mood and feel that I want from the moment. That is a slider thing. I make no apologies. Give me Photoshop with layers, layer masks, paintbrush, and a Curves setting and that’s me for post production in the digital darkroom.
How to set the exposure right for the wings? See my blog sometime back on Dean Collins.
I managed several birds on the day, and at first thought I’d like to have the head and neck showing. But in the end, I selected this one as the shape and curve of the wings is Satur poetic.
6 thoughts on “Saturday Evening Post: #49 An Endless Love Affair”
A superb image of the Spoonbill. I love the light through the wings. Interestingly I was pondering the same conundrum while working with the original pair of Black-shouldered Kite at Sneydes today. I was there in the afternoon, a novelty for me, but was having to shoot almost directly into the sun as I couldn’t get a clear shot from the other side. I chose to concentrate on the birds and deal with the sky and background in post. They were sharing a good sized rat for early dinner.
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Sometimes birds just don’t pose the way we want. I do think the early morning light is the secret sauce for down along that roadway, just about every afternoon encounter we’ve had in sunshine has proved difficult for exposure and contrast.
Sound like the pair have settled in, and I will check them again in the coming week.
Beautiful. The light glowing through those lovely feathers is magical.
Thanks Eleanor, It’s good sometimes just to play with the way light works, hard to resist those lovely white sheets against the darker surrounds
Interesting about Eastman David, that he did not have a photo legacy, having contributed so much to photography. I love how you captured the light in the Spoonie’s plumage, I always have trouble getting clear detailed shots because they are so white in bright sunlight. Lovely contrast against the darker background. I also love them when they have breeding plumage and develop the Afro hairstyle. Have a an enjoyable week!
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HI Ashley, Ahh, yes George. He died prematurely by his own hand at 77. He suffered from a debiliating spinal deterioration.
If he left a photo legacy then Google seems completely unaware. I might try the George Eastman House museum, just for completeness.
Yes, white on black, is without doubt the toughtest of photo exposure challenges. Brides in white, grooms in black where the bane of my early training.
For full disclosure. This image has been dealt with using Layers, Layer masks and a paintbrush. (My fav post processing technique)
I always try to get the exposure for the whites right (think Snow scenes in the old film packet instructions), and let the blacks fall for handling laer.
Backlighting just adds a degree of difficulty. 🙂
The head shots from the same time show some spread of the head feathers, but I didn’t get as good a wing display. Tricky black legs/beak on black also didn’t help.
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