Preston Castle Grounds, Turkey Vultures, Desaturized Sky

ISO 200, 200mm, f/8, 0.8 sec
Ione, CA

The grounds of Preston Castle are a popular resting spot for the local turkey vultures, with 50-60 birds in a single bare tree a common sight.  The lack of people (as the both the historic and modern Preston Youth Correctional Facility are now shuttered) may be a draw for the vultures.  The grounds are also close proximity to various medium traffic rural county roads and the frequent food source of fresh roadkill from this traffic.

(click through on the image to view in 700px)

A brief technical note.  I have been shooting with +1.0 exposure compensation (EC) for a few days now without being aware of it.  Usually I leave the ISO at a higher value (200, 400) and notice halfway through a shoot.  With having an elevated EC, I kept noticing clipping on the right end of the histogram when checking images on the camera’s LCD… and I could not figure out why.  I even resorted to purposely underexposing shots.  Now I know why there were more blown out areas than I expect.  Remember, check your settings before every shooting session!

As for the processing of this photograph, I started off by reducing exposure -1.0 to counteract the incidental +1.0 EC.  The  post processing plan was to make sure the sky had the tinge of blue-grey that was not so blue that became jarring.  I had intentionally used the circular polarizer to enhance the blue and did not want to over-do it in post.  What I ended up choosing to do was desaturizing the blue entirely out of the sky.  The grey sky gives the overall image a moody feel while not competing for attention with the birds.  And yes, there is plenty of negative/open space here.  Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t.

More photographs from Preston Castle:

EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center-weighted metering mode, 200mm, ISO 200, 0.8 sec, f/8

Preston Castle, Turkey Vultures, Desaturized Sky.  Ione, California.  January 20, 2013. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.

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