Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What You Wish For

Just slightly blurred in the center...bummer
Today's post is a reflection on photography over the past 6 months with my new camera and lens. Of course there are many more shots out there that I haven't used for this post but I thought it would be "fun" to review several shots of pics that didn't quite turn out as I had hoped....and why I never chose them for the various series of writes.
Of course I wish these shots had turned out better.  I sometimes go with the idea of what I would like to capture on film and have high expectations to get those shots. I do some research online and look at what others have posted.  I don't exactly want their shots but I do take the challenge of trying to capture something similiar.  With the two shots above and below at the Whitewater Draw, I had wanted clear shots of the masses of Sandhill Cranes descending onto the fields below.  I used a new telephoto lens on this windy day and had difficulty getting very clear shots.
At first, I thought it to be a failure on my part.  Afterall, I took over 600 pictures!  On my small camera screen, the shots looked amazing.  But soon to find out once I got home.....only 10 or 11 of them turned out!!  As a fellow photographer told me on that day, it just means you need to go back again next year.  And I will:)
I love the legs here....but the shot is too blurry to be of any use:(
I would also discover that it is "normal" to take hundreds of pics and discover only a few good ones out of the batch.  The process of selecting shots is tricky and it works in 3 layers.  First, I delete all blurry images right away.  Second, I keep the ones that "may" have some saving quality.  And third, a few will be spot on perfection. The tricky part is in the second phase.  There are sometimes excellent shots hidden within the photo.  But it takes time and effort to spot where the picture may be.....and that is time consuming.  And I let them sit over a week so that I have time to process things again.  When I head back to the shots, I will have a fresh perspective.
Wildlife is tricky.  Another photographer said that it's all in the tracking.  For birds and mammals, this is correct.  But for butterflies, it is not:)  It takes great patience to capture these shots.  And when I did, there is disappointment by a random leaf in the photo or worse....a slighly blurred image!!! 
And then there is lighting!!!  This Western Bluebird below was a great catch.....but the sunlight was all wrong!  Disappointment happens and you hope that another opportunity will present itself.  But like this bluebird, it is too late to capture this magnificent bird as it is too hot.  I'll have to wait again for next year in Tucson.  Or will I?
I loved this shot so much but again, the lighting was all wrong.  Too much shade. 
Or this image below.  Looks great until you blow it up more.....slightly blurred.  Can't use.  Darn it!
And then there is tracking birds and the manual focus.  Automatic doesn't work with wildlife because the focus ends up being too slow.  So manual is the only way to go with moving objects.  The problem with manual is that you have to be quick and predict how something will move in flight, in water, or on land.  Some of the shots that I really loved turned out to be too blurred for any use. And that is where tracking is important....predicting how the bird or animal will move.  Many times photographers will set up tripods etc, but my best results have been from not having a stand tie me down. My hands have gotten better with the focus....and I'm not wasting as many shots on the memory card.  
And then there are the shots when just one of the focal points is SLIGHHHHTLY out of focus or cut off. 
.....like this shot here.  I loved the picture below but the feet were cut off!!!
.....or the landscape looks great but the owl is out of focus:)  And in wildlife photos, you only get one shot.
My final example is of this agouti in Panama near Gamboa.  Great shot of the animal carrying something but the darn tree gets in the way!!!  So my question to you all is....."What do you do with these types of shots?"  I'd categorize them in group two because they are in some sense "picture worthy" but not frameable.
So what I wish for, isn't what I always get.  But I do think it's worth striving for:)  Until tomorrow...


  1. Good images, my fave is the Owl shot, it is superb.

  2. Good post :) I have sooo many photos that aren't great, but I've kept them because they're my only pics of that species, or they remind me of a great moment/great day, or I can see something I like in them despite their being technically 'wrong'. Sometimes the not-quite photo teaches you what you need to know to get the spot-on photo. It's all part of the fun :)

  3. Great post Chris. It was such a relief to learn that I am not the only one to take dozens of shots - only to find when I see them on the computer screen only a few are any good :) As you say they all look good on the camera screen too! I struggle with manual focusing but I need to practise a lot more :) and tracking is something I really must experiment with.

  4. I am so glad you shared these. I really enjoyed each and every one of them!

  5. wildlife is incredibly tricky - I find even stationary insects and flowers tricky. Do you use a tripod? I very much like the idea of publishing the imperfect shots as well as the good ones. It helps us learn and understand more, our blogs are a good place to show them off and explain what we were trying to do and why they didn't quite work. Great post!!!!!!!

  6. I think those pictures are all blog-worthy because they are interesting and not things that are seen everyday. Maybe Photoshop shadow/highlight adjustment can help bring out details hidden in shadows.

  7. What kind of camera did you buy? I think the shots are nice, especially the owl and cardinal. I've never been able to capture birds like you did, mainly because they fly away before I can focus on them.

    1. Hi Mary, sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you. I use a Canon T3I Rebel. Thanks for stopping by....to capture the bird shots, I use the sports feature for the fast shots while they are in flight....tricky fun:)

  8. looks very much like my shots every day. :)

  9. Ah, the joys of wildlife photography! It has to be the most frustrating hobby there is! And of course our biggest enemy in this country is the lack of good light for so much of the year :-( I delete so many of my efforts. Thank goodness we live in the digital age, it would have been far too expensive in the days of film! I think we tend to forget that we are all in the same boat, the times I say 'how do other people get so many good photos and I don't?' forgetting of course that they probably delete as many as I do!

  10. Keep firing away Chris! It's a never-ending struggle to fiddle with and find the right apertures and ISOs. I don't think any photographer ever gets more keepers than throw-aways, but it's those few great shots that make it all worth while.

    And those shots that aren't perfect...a little tasteful cropping (a.k.a. damage control) is my approach.

  11. It's all part of a learning curve and we hopefully learn from the mistake shots.

    I rarely take good photos of birds. Much better luck with stay still landscapes.

  12. Hi Chris, I definitely know the difference in a good camera and a cheap one now... I used to use a little cheap one--but when we got our Canons, I was amazed at the differences and what I could do with it...

    But I'll admit that my hubby is the one who really works hard at his photos... I still am just a person who loves to take pictures... I don't spend NEARLY the amount of time that George does. AND--there's a huge difference!!!!! BUT--great photography has to be a 'real' interest --and I just have too many OTHER interests... ha

    Great set of pictures.

  13. Hello! Thank You very much for so beautiful post!

  14. Trimming and cropping is my saving grace. Wildlife photography is that 99% perspiration, and 1% inspiration sort of genius. I read about the pros spending HOURS waiting for 'that shot'. For my life, good enough, has to be just that.
    The cardinal photo works for me, has a little mystery to it. And the footless owl could be deliberately cropped to intense square drama.

  15. Great post!
    I take a lot of photos too, but I delete more than I keep.
    I'm so glad I'm not the only one having photos looking great on the camera screen and not looking great at all on the computer screen.
    I especially like your 5th photo, I think it's stunning.
    I didn't notice the leaf until I read the text (I always look at the photos first).
    Thanks for sharing, Chris.

  16. Your not alone, Chris. I take 100s of shots in hopes of getting a few good ones. Some days the lighting and wind works with me and some not.
    I'm glad you posted them. Their better that you think. I have several less than perfect pics that just can seem to part with.

  17. You echo many of my struggles and frustrations with photographing nature and my garden, but I love it nonetheless. The rewards far outweigh all of that. Your captures are fantastic especially the ones of the birds...excellent!

  18. Okay... I am nowhere near even an average amature photographer and just starting to upgrade from a powershot. I did find a new Macro lens that moves internally so you have a bit more time on those close ups. As you focus the lens does not move on the outside. I have yet to get outside and use it but think it will help. BTW blurry or not the poppies with the bees were worth posting.

  19. It is always a surprise for me what looks good on the computer is not always what I thought looked good while still in my camera. You are so right. Getting a good shot is what keeps up trying.

  20. Sorry can't advise on photography. I just wanted to say that white butterfly after the flock of birds look cute with her legs hanging down ;-)

  21. These are beautiful images, Chris. Like you, I take a lot more photographs than I keep. Many get tossed as I shoot macro but rarely use a tripod as I should. It's often disappointing to upload the shots and then end up with blur on the computer screen but when you hit one that's sharp, oh, what a feeling! Those shots of the owl are amazing! I love the movement...sometimes a little blur can be used to your advantage as in the shot of the owl in flight...gives the sense of how fast it's flying. I love the moodiness of the second shot too. Very cool.

  22. I like these pictures, many of mine are the same, but they capture the essence of the scene. The owl is marvelous.

  23. The best would be to switch to a film camera from time to time to exercise and keep the feeling for cameras settings... :-)
    And I would say: shooting is keeping memories alive.

  24. A great collection of images, all different and interesting in their own way!

  25. i LOVE all your shots there!

    but i know what you mean...when i take a picture, i KNOW what i want it to look like...i get too critical of myself sometimes. it has to be just what i saw with my eyes.

    well, the nice thing about digitals...snap snap snap away...and hopefully ONE will be what i was looking for! ha. or like you said...a good excuse to go back later...

    really, GREAT pictures! (the OWL! beautiful! and the butterflies...esp the one with the spindly legs rubbing together!)


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