Gulls at the Beach - Silhouette

by Mark S
(Riverside CA USA)

This photo was taken on a Rebel Xsi at Laguna Beach. It was taken facing into the sun in the late afternoon.

The goal was to capture the birds in flight and to cast a silhouette which would show the extremes in contrast.

Monthly online magazine for digital photographers - with exclusive video tutorials!

(for convenience links below open in new windows)

Apparently some of the most dangerous species on the planet live in Australia - home to such wonders of nature as the funnel web spider, the blue ring octopus, and more snakes than you can shake a stick at; although I have it on good authority that you should never actually shake a stick at a snake. They tend to get a bit angry.

However, coming from England I think there needs to be a re-count on this one, and a new champion in the world of dangerous species - the seagull.

No, seriously. Watching these birds from afar is all well and good. Get closer and you will be bombarded by squawking and shrieking that can only be described as a war-cry. Bird song it is not.

But this clearly is insufficient to warrant inclusion on a list of dangerous species. Noisy they may be, but where's the danger?

I'll tell you where. Just go down to the seaside on a warm summers day and buy yourself some fish and chips. I guarantee that within moments you will have seagulls dive-bombing you from every angle.

Red rag to a bull? Nothing compared to fish and chips to a seagull. If you escape with both eyes still in their rightful sockets consider yourself lucky.

This means I have the utmost respect for Mark's photo. To get this close to our feathered 'friends' he must have nerves of steel. I doff my hat!

But back to the photography . . . Mark has made a good stab at creating something a little different here. Shooting into the light, rather than with it behind you, is a nice way to create a silhouette.

And I like the thinking behind the photo. But of course, we are here for tips not just back slapping - so could Mark's photo be improved?

Yes, but only if you are brave, and have access to software.

The brave part first. Clearly you need to get in with the gulls for this type of photo. And because they move around pretty swiftly you need to be able to stay in position to take a number of shots.

The focus of your attention will probably be on the gulls, but don't ignore the background. In Mark's photo there is a fair bit of emptiness at the bottom of the photo, and the cliff is a bit cut off at the top.

Moving the camera up a touch would have improved the composition.

This photo is also quite busy. I love the gull in flight in the foreground, but maybe there are too many other gulls here fighting for our attention. And this is where software comes in.

I think this photo would be improved if some of the gulls (particularly the 'half-gull' on the left of the photo, and those in the distance) were removed.

This is easy to achieve using the clone tool. Leave just a couple of gulls on the beach and that one in flight and I think we're onto a real winner.

Thanks for the submission Mark; and apparently seagulls don't feature on any list of 'most dangerous animals'. I beg to differ.

Discover the secrets of professional photographers - easy to learn powerful photography techniques.

Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Digital photography tutorials - submissions, Spring 2009.