Beautiful Male Anhinga Pose in Black and White

Males Anhinga Black and White Portrait

Photographing even naturally lovely creatures is more often a case of behavior documentation than it is art. But, sometimes in the hustle and bustle of the subject’s natural movement, the photographer captures that moment of particularly pleasing body position. I found that with this beautiful male anhinga. My effort in this was to detangle the bird from its complex background without losing context so that its form was the main focus. I loved the head and body position relative to the tilt and spread of the tail feathers. He already has a mate and young ones at home, so he doesn’t really have to flirt so! And such a dapper dresser!! He’s ready for a formal dinner.

I hope you enjoy this black and white interpretation of the stately Anhinga anhinga male in his breeding plumage.




~ by Judy on March 8, 2015.

21 Responses to “Beautiful Male Anhinga Pose in Black and White”

  1. Nice. What processing did you do on the background? Also I am curious do you always apply sharpening to all your photos in photoshop?

    • Thanks, glad you liked it! On the first question I basically adjusted the image twice as a black and white. First for the background which I wanted to detangle and fade out a bit. So it is overexposed with amplified whites and lowered contrast. A masking layer was made for the bird so that its wonderful dark velvety blacks and sheen were there with detail and contrast of their own. I debated leaving some color but thought it looked more elegant to convert that combination again into a black and white composite. As always there is more than one way to do anything in Photoshop and add in filtering. A white layer at a lower opacity or in a soft light blending mode over your black and white conversion can also give an opaque look to the background which has low contrast. You’d still need to mask for the bird and composite the black and white.

      On the second question. Any sharpening I do is with Photoshop or software not in the camera. I think that is what you are asking. Not all photos need sharpening per se and sometimes other things like tonal contrast settings you might make can enhance sharpness. Sharpening was not used with this particular image rather contrast.

  2. Wonderful shot and I enjoyed your explanation above. Thanks.

  3. A nice contrast to the previous post, which was more about visually startling behavior.

  4. Oh, my, what an elegant bird! This is Audubon-esque, if that’s a word. It really is a stunning image. I don’t understand a lick of what you said up above about your technique (well, at least I didn’t understand 90% of it), but whatever you did, the result is superb.

    • And after all those things you said about what he looked like as a little kid!! 🙂 Actually, I am super glad that you thought this treatment worked. It seemed elegant to me but my natural instincts make it far easier to treat a white bird on a dark background than a dark bird on a light one. So thanks seriously for letting me know how it struck you!!

  5. Judy this is outstandingly beautiful. I love the perfect lines. You have such a talent.

    • Thank so much for the lovely thoughts!! Gotta give the bird all the credit for the perfect lines though. I was just fortunate in capturing the pose as he went about being himself! I try to be always watchful for perfect poses though, as those are the ones I look forward to doing something artistic with. Shoreacres said Audubon-esque and I do look at that pose as something he might have been attracted to.

      Thanks so much!

      • That is why it is so unique, great patience is needed for what you do Judy and you capture so much with such a creative eye.

      • It is true while people are snapping around me that I seem to be the one who is holding the scene in the viewfinder waiting, waiting for the perfect turn of the head or movement before pressing the shutter. Thing is if you press when it is not a great pose then the camera is occupied if that changes in a moment. And, it really does. I do remember when I was just happy to get a bird in focus. Now I want to be able to do something with the image. You are an artist so I think you see that value in getting the lines more so than most and that makes me feel good about it.

      • The light just right just where you want it, I see that in all your work Judy and that is such a gift.

  6. I’m not normally a fan of converting a color image to black and white, but I’ll agree with your assessment here that the conversion contributed to isolating the patterns of the bird from the background that could otherwise have distracted from them.

    • I love color and black and white treatments depending on where the spirit leads me 🙂 However, this was admittedly a dilemma as I rarely go light on backgrounds but wanted to show off this bird’s handsome pose and feather detail. I’d love to say its always preconceived vision but sometimes it is more like problem solving. With the previous Nesting Anhingas post, the color worked for me very well with the male anhinga sitting on his nest, so messy backgrounds are not always a problem for me.

      I truly appreciate your thoughts as your own perceptions and sensibilities with your work are always so well done.

    • Steve, I was wondering about why you don’t normally like black and white conversions from color. Is it that these conversions don’t match up to great black and white film images? Or that so much of these digital conversions are not done with great finesse? I was just curious as to your perspective on the issue.

      • My impression is that conversion to black and white is almost always an after-the-fact decision just for the sake of fitting into the “black and white” category of a challenge or contest.

        I worked in black and white for decades, and a big reason was that developing the film and making prints was much easier than dealing with color. Now, however, with digital cameras and good color printers, color is the norm. I can’t see throwing away all the extra information in a color file unless there’s a very good reason.

      • So not a quality thing per se then? I prefer to shoot in color, Adobe 1998 space specifically. I love color but sometimes the nuance of lighting seems to just call for a black and white or toned treatment. For me its a mood issue although I will agree that it can be a case of , just because you can, should you?.. for a particular image. But, at least our digital darkroom allows for a lot of play and experimentation. My darkroom experience with making black and white prints is pretty limited and in the distant past. But, I did love the enlarger, the chemicals, and the look of the paper and everything. Thanks for taking time for your answer to my query.

  7. What an incredibly gorgeous, and elegant portrait of this gentleman. The black-and-white really brings out those intricate patterns and feathers amazingly. Nature is just stunning.

    • Yeah it was a hard call really going the black and white because you know how gorgeous the shimmering black is and the ruby eye and the beautiful blues and greens of the lores during breeding. But, I really wanted to show of that wonderful body position that the artist upstairs just delivered that day.

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