Let’s talk about MacGyver. No, I didn’t have a crush on Richard Dean Anderson in my 20’s. (The only celebrity crush I ever had was Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones–no judging.) I am talking about making STILL blog photos and the low-budget studio setups I sometimes have to create. Many of my photos require a certain amount of MacGyvering. I get a ridiculous amount of satisfaction from these mini-challenges. Sometimes I hang branches from the ceiling using fishing line, sometimes I darken the white tips of feathers with ash so they don’t disappear on a white background, sometimes I create seamless white backgrounds with poster paper propped up against a stack of books. Today, when I placed this great horned owl feather on white paper all the barbule details got lost when I lightened the image to bright white. So I put the feather on my diffuser in front of a window, and there was a nice soft backlight, which kept all the feather details, but my lens picked up the fabric texture of the diffuser. If I lowered the depth of field to avoid picking up the background texture I lost many of the feather details again. So, in the end I MacGyvered the photo by attaching the feather to the window, and then placing the diffuser behind the subject, outside, so it was several inches away from the feather. Only then did I have enough light and enough depth of field to properly pick up all the delicate details in this image.
juvenile great horned owl feather