It's not often I have the opportunity to work with such a willing subject when it comes to wildlife photography. Yesterday evening a Great Blue Heron was more than happy to help me demonstrate the difference light direction can make when deciding how to capture a subject and where to place the point of emphasis.
I was just getting ready to go on a run at sunset when I noticed this guy perched on the railing near the pond behind my apartment building. By the time I got down to my car and my camera equipment I thought he would be gone but instead he was happy to pose for quite a while. The camera used was a Canon 1D Mark III with a 300mm f4 IS L lens and 1.4x extender.
This is the time of year with the most pleasing light at sunset. Working around the Great Blue Heron with directional light coming from the southwestern horizon I was able to capture a variety of images. Each of the same subject but also quite different due to where I was placing myself (angle) in relation to how the light was interacting with the Heron. It's fascinating to see just how much of a difference angle and light direction can make in the resulting photographs.
The following examples show side lighting, diffused non-direct lighting and complete back lighting for striking silhouette. It was fun to play with different angles of approach and then adjust exposure based on how the sunlight was interacting with the subject. In these examples the subject being a Great Blue Heron, however, the same holds true for outdoor portrait photography as well.