Rich B Young



Further Along the Road to "Natural Color"




What should a bird photographer do when birds' colors are

noticeably altered by

naturally occurring lighting coloration?


For example,

Early morning/evening warm color casts;

Shaded areas with their blue/cyan/green hues;

Reflection from geological features

The list goes on..



Case in Point:

Natural Selection of Skylight (blue/cyan)

Some time ago an individual responded to my post which included a

Black-Crowned Night Heron, saying:


"Rich... Enjoyed your new pics.

But I am curious about the BCNH. Did its back appear blue visually?

I don't recall ever having seen one with that coloration".


I responded by saying:

"Point taken... Image corrected."


This bird did appear blue (cyan)

visually, as you see it here!

The location was bathed in deep blue(cyan) skylight, as seen in the "Natural Light" image below.


By 'rolling over' the image you can see the 'color correction' I made.


The "blue" (cyan) color is not an artifact of the camera's (Nikon D7000) sensor, as was suggested. It was the result of being in the shade, thus

the color cast is coming from the blue sky!


The Great Blue Heron below (standing in shade)

has the same blue (cyan) coloration as the shaded

Black Crowned Night Heron above,

yet taken with a Nikon D300 (different sensor).


Great Blue Heron, natural (shade) light, Nikon D300



The Litmus Test is below!

Notice how the bird's coloration becomes 'normal' as it steps

out of the shade (cyan), and into the sunlight, with the help of

neutral light reflecting upward from the gravel!



Notice in the right image, the shaded areas still exhibit blue (cyan)

from the blue sky!




Another example of blue (cyan) skylight contaminating the true

colors of a bird can be seen in this rollover of a Virginia Rail...

The "Before" image looks like what I remember at the time

I photographed this bird on October 11, 2012



When teaching wedding photography, blue skylight becomes problematical, causing the wedding dress to literally fluoresce blue, and the bride's healthy skintones are affected by the combination of blue skylight and green foliage reflection.

I have no problem with 'fixing' either the bird or a bride's coloration, it's

easily done.

Which is 'correct'?

What would you do?


Direct evening sun will also 'discolor' birds and brides!




One Final Scenario in "Natural Colors" Series:

Rick Fridell responded to my request, with his current Baird's Sandpiper,

from Sand Hollow Reservoir!

This area is like few others in the world for bird photography!

I truly enjoyed modifying this image, a 'rollover'.

A special thanks to Rick Fridell for his "Baird's Sandpiper"

standing on an extraordinary shoreline in Southern Utah!