I took this late morning, towards the sun. As I converted it (in Lightroom) to B&W it seemed to beg more and more for contrast, so I darkened the blacks and added a gradient filter to the left to darken that side and remove some background grasses, and then brightened the Whites.
I know the bird isn’t all that sharp and I’ve been hesitant to post for that reason, but I really like the backlit exploding water, so decided to share it. Maybe next time I can get a similar scene with better details.

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Technical Details

Is this a composite: No
D500 with 200-500 f/5.6 lens.
1/3200 sec., f/11, 500mm (750mm equivalent in 35mm format), ISO 2500.
This is cropped to about 25% of the original image.


Terrific light on this one Mark. The water droplets are what initially attracted me to this image and because this is not a close up image, I don’t think that you necessarily need it to be tack sharp. Well done with the conversion to b&w from color too. Love the nearly black background along with the very bright whites. Well done Mark!

For me the spray of the water is the main subject and the bird is secondary. Therefore the lack of sharpness of the bird does not bother me. The conversion to b&w was a good decision. Love it.

Love it, Mark! I’m a fan of your Terns and really love black and white! I’m not bothered by the out of focus tern, it is an action shot after all!

I agree with @Patricia_Brundage about the spray being the main subject and high contrast B&W really sets it off nicely. Nice!

The action here and lighting along with the wonderful splash make for an excellent visual impact. Good catch!

Your choice of B&W is spot on. The water droplets and the surface disturbance is definitely the eye catcher and the bird seems to be a supporting member of the scene. I might try to give the image a very slight blur-masking out the bird since it is already soft. It could give the image a bit more of an emotional feel.

A very unique image. The back lit nature of the image is very nice. I like the B&W conversion option.

Excellent, Mark. The slightly our of focus tern doesn’t bother me. A very artistic rendition of the scene.

@David_Haynes , @Patricia_Brundage , @Vanessa_Hill , @David_Bostock , @David_Schoen , @james23 , @Keith_Bauer , @Dennis_Plank - Thank you everyone for your kind and supportive comments. It had never really even occurred to me that the water spray might be the subject, but it was definitely the most exciting part of the image for me, so now it seems oh so obvious! Thanks to you all, I’ve learned something about how varied “subject” can be.
Thank you very much!

Hi Mark
We all want better details, action and framing, but Mark, you knew you had something here and did a great job presenting this photograph.

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@peter , Thank you very much.

Hello, Mark, congrats on this wonderful image, one that would work well printed large on HD Metal and on a wall! Backlight, water, action and B&W - all great ! Cheers, Hans

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@Hans_Overduin , thanks! I like the idea of a HD metal print!

Hi Mark

Simply awesome! Caught my eye right away!

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I’m late here – a great capture and good idea to convert to B/W, but I wonder if there is a way to keep the highlights on the water below the bird from blowing out? There are some strange artifacts in the left 1/4, with hard edges to some of the drops and some grayish vertical areas – was canvas added? Also what may be some cloning artifacts near the top.

Put a temporary curve or level layer on it and lighten the darks a lot to see it. You can do repairs on the layers underneath then delete the temp adjustment layer.

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This is amazing to look at! Totally enjoying my view just as is!

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