Arkansas Wildlife Blog and Gallery
Buffalo National River and NW Arkansas
We All Screw Up Photos
I don't care who you are, and how experienced you are a photographer, you miss photos that kind of haunt you. Sometimes it seems like there are more misses than gets, but really that is what keeps us coming back. It would not be fun if it was easy.

Recently one of my greatest misses was of a great white egret landing on just about a visually perfect limb. If had nailed that picture it would have been my photo of the year for 2008 to date, but I missed.

I had two things against me on this one. I was shooting in manual focus at 560MM and at a relatively slow shutter speed, and the timing had to be perfect. I just could not pull it off. Still feel bad about the miss, but the the fallback salvage job is better than average.

So what was wrong with this photo? It was just plain unsharp. I missed the focus. It is not blurry from motion, just my inability to get the manual focus right at the moment of truth. See the photo below:
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Notes to Entry:
If I have learned anything from this, it is to NEVER throw away powerful compositions that are slightly flawed.

I am from the school of photography that would argue that composition trumps "tightness" generally, if one must make a choice.

Every aspect of visual expression is on the table, we should think creatively about the possibilities and be a bit slower on the delete key.

Experiment with photo filters. I like to do so with very fine brush strokes that look like pointillism (big pixels), but there is no reason to stop there. Roam around a little.

I did this photo with paint daubs set very fine, then I jacked up the contrast.
Salvaging Those Missed Photos
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landing egret photo art
Now looking at this (left) I realize I have learned something fundamental here. We have the opportunity to be far more creative than the main line culture of photography would have us believe. These explorations can lead us to unexpected places. All we need to do is "think outside the photograhy box". This "photo" has been well received.
egret flying off limb
The image on the right is another eget shot from the same shoot. This one is pretty dramatic to my eye compositionally, very geometric with strong lines and rythms, but the original photo is totally drab from a color standpoint.

If you have done any black and white work, this is almost a case study in a black and white image. It has strong lines in an almost impossible to believe limb, and the pointing of the egret's beak and body downward is striking. An all white bird contrasting with the other shades seals the deal -- this should be a black and white.

It was taken under gray skies and the usual diffuse light. But that is exaclty what was needed to get the detail in the shadows.

What started out as a salvage job turned out to be perhaps as good an image as I have taken in 2008. I think it makes the case that composition rules.
I do realize there is sensor dust in the upper left corner. That is not a compositional element, it is my trusty 5D showing off one of its traits, dust. Oh well, I will fix it before I print the photo. This is why the gods at Adobe created the healing brush, one of the greatest inventions of all time.