Monday, 17 September 2012

Photographing African wildlife with impact; Color (part 2)

2. Color

When we talk about the impact provided by color combination we are generally talking about the avian world, although there are notable exceptions. There are few riotously colored mammals and as they generally rely on stealth and camouflage you can see why natural selection would have taken care of lime green and orange striped cats. I may add at this point that we are not considering marine photographic targets where color palettes can really go wild and some fluorescent combinations would make Magnificent Quetzals or Rainbow Lorikeets look positively dull.

The human brain is wired to appreciate particular combinations of color. It is generally unfair or at best incongruous that the rarest bird in the world, if it was colored black or a ‘little Brown Job’, would attract little interest from nature photographers and even more so from family or photographic critics. It seems to be the more riotous colors displayed the better.

Red and yellow are the dominant colors that attract the attention of the human eye. It was no random choice that Kodak chose yellow boxes for all their films. These two colors on a primary subject can add impact to images.

The examples I give below represent only a small sample of the riot of color that is present on many African birds; particularly the vast array of Bee-eaters and Sunbirds.

Red or yellow coloration can be displayed over the entire or majority of the bird……….
Flamingos at Lake Nakuru

Flamingo; lines and colors

Yellow-throated Longclaws

Red-headed Weaver

……………or used as accessory colors.

Southern Ground Hornbill

d'Arnaud's Barbet

Yellow-necked Spurfowl

African Crowned Crane

Helmeted Guineafowl

White-fronted Bee-eater

White-fronted Bee-eaters
The Red/yellow coloration my be confined to small areas like the bill where it still adds impact.

Yellow-billed Oxpeckers

Other birds do not employ highlights but go for the full palette or eye-catching combinations of color.

Fischer's Lovebirds

A Tanzanian Christmas tree?
Lilac-breasted Rollers are relatively common and have bright coloring under the wings as well.
Lilac-breasted Roller

Little Bee-eater

A number of African birds employ variations of blue that shimmer and change hues like satin in the sunlight.

White-bellied Sunbird (male)

Southern Blue-eared Starling

Ruppell's Long-tailed Starling
Superb Starling, nestbuilding

The riotous combination of color is not confined to birds but is also employed by their distant relatives, the lizards. In particular male Agamid lizards during the mating season display some very vivid coloration.

Agama Lizard (South Africa)

Agama Lizard (Maasai Mara, Kenya)

The reader should play particular attention the backgrounds of  the majority of images displayed above. They are generally smooth without any obvious distraction. 

 To be continued..............

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this information and picture tutorial.. They are really stunning... You did a great job.
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