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Low light and steady rain lead to reader’s dramatic photo of puffins taking flight

Horned Puffins (Fratercula corniculata), Duck Island, Alaska, August 7, 2014, 5:16 p.m., by Diane Doran
Horned Puffins (Fratercula corniculata), Duck Island, Alaska, August 7, 2014, 5:16 p.m., by Diane Doran

The Alaska brown bear was the focus of a photography workshop that subscriber Diane Doran participated in this past summer in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve in central Alaska. She got her fair share of bear photos, but it was the shot of clown-faced Horned Puffins above that grabbed our attention. She posted it to our U.S. and Canada Gallery.

Diane Doran
Diane Doran

Doran is a retired professor of nursing from the University of Toronto. She has been birding for most of her adult life and began taking photos about 30 years ago. Doran has birded in Alaska, Arizona, and Costa Rica, and she spends part of each winter on Sanibel Island in Florida, where she has watched birds with Don and Lillian Stokes.

Doran’s eight-person group took a boat to tiny Duck Island to photograph puffins. Wind and a steady rain made it difficult to keep lenses dry, much less take photos, but the trip was worth it. When two birds launched from a rock, she was able to freeze not just the action but the spray of water coming off their wings.

In fact, she says, the low light and rain produced deeper color saturation in the puffins. “It can be quite worthwhile to photograph in challenging conditions because they sometimes result in more dramatic photos.”

Doran used the following equipment and settings to take the photograph:

Camera: Nikon D4S
Lens: Nikon 500mm f/4 lens
Settings: 1/2000, f/4, ISO 2500, matrix metering
Light: Natural
Format: RAW converted to JPG
Adjustments: Cropping, sharpening, and contrast modifications in Adobe Lightroom

A version of this article appeared in the December 2014 issue of BirdWatching magazine. Subscribe.

Originally Published

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