Why didn’t I?
In almost every image that I shoot, once I load it to my computer and look at it in Lightroom, I see a flaw that I could have easily avoided if I had taken the time to analyze the scene that I was shooting in the first place. Take the image of the day lily that I put in my last post.
There’s the one dried leaf towards the bottom of the frame that stuck out like a sore thumb when I first viewed the image. I was able to use Lightroom to darken it down a little so that it’s not quite so obvious, but I could have easily plucked that leaf off if I had been paying attention in the first place. I made the same mistake in this image.
I should have done some judicious pruning before shooting that image as well.
I think that a lot of it has to do with the fact that my first love is shooting wildlife, mostly birds, and that I often have very little time to get any photo. Some times, I just luck out.
However, even when it comes to birds, I’m trying to be more aware of what’s in the background, and I swear, the birds know that, and what I’m attempting to do. I spotted a male cardinal singing, and so I shot a photo or two from where I was when I first spotted him. Since he didn’t fly off right away, I looked the scene over, and sure enough, there were branches right behind him. I could see that if I moved to my left a little, then there would be nothing behind him but blue sky, so that’s what I did, moved to the left. As the camera was acquiring focus, I could see the cardinal walking along the branch he was perched on until the branches were directly behind him again.
Argh! I didn’t try moving back to my right so that the branches behind the cardinal in that photo wouldn’t have been there. He probably would have walked back down the branch back to where he started anyway.
Even in the image of the dickcissel above, the tip of the branch he is perched on is sticking out of his shoulder. I tried to remove it in Lightroom, with limited success.
I need more practice in both shooting photos in the first place, then in editing them later.
You may say that I’m being overly critical, but it’s the small details that separate a good image from a great image. I need to take more time when I’m shooting flowers or landscapes to be sure that the image that I’ve shot is the best it can be, and not shoot those subjects the same way as I do birds or other wildlife.
Then, there are the times when shooting a video would have been a much better choice than shooting still photos.
For those of you who don’t know, squirrels build two types of “nests”. During the colder months, they gather dried leaves and pile them up in the crotch of a tree or where a number of branches come together. Then, when the squirrel wants to sleep, it simply burrows into the pile of leaves, which act as insulation to keep the squirrel dry and warm.
That works fine for an adult squirrel, but their young are born blind and helpless, just as most mammals are. So, when a female is about to give birth, she builds a different type of nest, one very similar to a bird’s nest, using branches that she cuts off with her teeth. The branches are then woven loosely together, and the result is lined with leaves. That way, the newborn squirrels are in no danger of falling out of the nest while their mother is off feeding.
So, I found a female fox squirrel working on a nest in which to give birth, and I shot dozens of photos of her in action. This is one of those times when a video would have been so much better. How do I know that? Because in setting this up, the thing that comes to mind is to say that if you’ve ever seen a video of a dog trying to get a long stick through a narrow doorway, that’s what I was reminded of as I watched the squirrel in action.
Oops, almost dropped it.
Come back here.
I need a better grip on this branch.
I’ve got it now!
Still can’t get it past the other branches.
More to the left.
Maybe if I hold it here instead?
And so it went. The thought to shoot that as a video occurred to me later, so I returned to that spot. By then, she was in a different part of the tree, where I could just make her out, and the light was horrible as well. Nature seldom gives you more than one chance to get it right in the first place, whether it be still photos or videos, unless you have plenty of time to spend outside.
As I’ve said before, shooting video with a long lens handheld is no easy task, most of the videos that I’ve attempted are too shaky for me to post here. If I use my tripod, it works fine for stationary subjects, because I have a tripod head best suited for still photography. For video, I should have a tripod head that allows for smooth movement as I follow a subject. That means purchasing yet another tripod head, and even though the heads for videos can be locked for stills, I wonder how effective that would be. I have the feeling that I’d end up trying to carry two tripod heads and switching back and forth, or much more likely, trying to make do with the wrong one for what I’m attempting to do at the time.
I suppose that I should bite the bullet and spend the $600 for a Wimberly gimbal head like the professionals use that will work for both video and stills, maybe some day. 😉
That, and along with the theme of my last post, I’m looking forward to the days when I can spend as much time as needed to get the photo that I’d like to get, and not feel the need to rush off to the next photo-op. An example of that would be that when there’s a day with good light, and very little wind, to spend the time shooting wildflowers.
Along with their many visitors.
I missed the grasshopper on the back of the flower, it took off when I moved. But as I was looking for it, or a better one of the flowers to photograph, I saw the most beautiful bee that I’ve ever seen.
I tried for a better image.
But, I really should have put a tele-converter or extension tubes behind the 100 mm macro lens so that I could get closer to that tiny bee.
As small as the individual flowers were, I was quite proud of the images of them that I got, they were just over 1/8 of an inch (3 mm) across at their base.
If I would have sat there for a while with the proper set-up, the tiny bee may have returned for a better image of it, at the least, I would have gotten better images of the flowers. Even if I hadn’t, what could be better than sitting in a field of beautiful wildflowers with nothing else to do but enjoy and admire them?
I think that I’m having an epiphany at the moment, maybe it isn’t that I don’t have the time to shoot great photos, maybe I have the perception that I don’t have the time that it would take to shoot the subjects that I do in a much better way.
I have slowed down quite a bit already, and it is paying dividends. But, there’s always the nagging thought in the back of my mind that there’s a better photo around the next bend in the trail, or the next location that I plan on visiting. I need to work on that as much as anything.
I’m still learning, and maybe the next big milestone in my education is the idea that great images don’t just jump into your camera when you’re in the right place at the right time every now and then.
I can always come up with excuses as to why I shouldn’t spend more time on any given subject that I’m shooting. The light is wrong, the background is wrong, there’s too much wind, the subject isn’t perfect, and so it goes.
There are ways to work around those problems, and I’ve done so when I’ve really wanted a particular photo. I’ve said in the past that I love solving the problems that are presented to me when it comes to photography, maybe I need to take that a few steps further.
As I’m thinking about this, I’ve just remembered what the next photo that I shot after the flowers above was, it was this upland sandpiper that flew past me as I returned to my car.
That may not have been totally luck, but close to it. I do keep the 7D body with a long lens set-up ready at all times for just such an occasion, and the sandpiper flew past me right after I had set down the 60D body and macro lens, freeing my hands for that shot. However, I can’t rely on such luck all the time if I expect to shoot images like that on a regular basis.
I’ve been trying to get past the notion that there’s always a better photo somewhere else, take the sandhill cranes for example. I sat there waiting for them to take flight, hoping to get good images of them, but it was a poor day to do so. That’s because there was no wind at all, which meant that the cranes took flight in any direction that they felt like when they decided to leave the marsh to go to their feeding locations for the day. Any bird that runs to build up speed as it takes to the air…
…will always take off or land going into the wind for the added lift that they get from the air going across their wings, just as airplanes do.
That meant that I wasted most of the time that I sat there watching the cranes and waiting for them to fly, as none of the photos that I shot are all that great compared to what they could have been if the cranes had taken off at a different angle, towards me rather than slightly away from me. Instead of waiting around to get poor photos of the cranes, I should have been shooting more wildflowers that morning since there was no wind.
I also let some things get to me that I shouldn’t. I never found their nest, mostly because I wasn’t really looking for it, but there were a pair of green herons flying across one of the small waterways near Grand Haven…
…I could tell that they were bringing food to their young…
…if I had hung around there longer I may have gotten a good photo of them. I may have even gotten to see their young, and the adults feeding them. But, a bass boat…
…went blasting down the channel, and I let it ruin my mood, when I should have stuck around that spot for a while longer. The herons would have gone right back to bringing food to their young, they had no other option. I should know by now that such things are going to happen, I’m not out in a wilderness somewhere when I’m out shooting photos, so I don’t know why I let a small thing like the bass boat going past make me decide to pack it in where I’m at, and move to another location, where something similar is bound to happen.
I need to become more patient, that is if I’m ever going to shoot the photos that I’d like to someday. That doesn’t apply to just the quality of the images, but also the subject matter as well. I’d like to chronicle several species of birds raising their young, from while the parent(s) are incubating the eggs, as in this earlier photo of an Eastern Kingbird…
…to when the birds first hatch…
…and catch the parents feeding the youngsters. I rarely hang around a nest for very long at the present time, because I’m standing out in the open where the parents can see me, and become very upset with my presence.
It’s tough enough being a bird as it is, they don’t need me adding to their problems. However, if I were in a hide where I didn’t upset the birds, and I could record the live’s of the young as they grow and eventually learn to fly.
Before I forget, I have returned to that nest one other time, and the mother was there keeping the youngsters warm on a cool morning.
I’d also like to find a scene or scenes that I could shoot over the course of all four seasons, and in different weather conditions. I’m sort of doing that now at several places that I go, like Lost Lake…
… around home…
(I shot that one to record how green everything still is, even though we haven’t gotten as much rain as we usually do, and we’re on the edge of a drought)
…and even at the wastewater facility.
However, what I’m really looking for are scenes that I could shoot from the exact same spot time after time to record not only the changing of the seasons and the different moods depending on the weather, but also any changes that occur.
Switching gears somewhat, it’s funny that I’m complaining about a lack of time as I sit here today trying to think of somewhere cool that I could go for the day. It’s been a hot summer here in Michigan so far, with quite a few days when the temperature rose above 90 degrees (32 C). Today may end up being the hottest day of the year so far, and while I tolerate heat a little better than I used to, it’s still not something that I look forward to.
I could go somewhere along Lake Michigan, where the breeze off from the lake will be about 10 to 15 degrees cooler, but every one else and their brother will be doing the same thing.
It’s also a bit funny that the last photo so far, of the cloudscape, was taken the day before I left on my vacation back in May, on a day when it had snowed earlier. That week turned out to be the turning point in our weather, from a cold spring to a hot summer. It’s also been drier than average, we’re on the verge of a mild drought, but you wouldn’t know it from looking around.
Some of the grasses have flowered…
…and they’re turning brown, but the trees don’t look stressed yet, and there are plenty of wildflowers blooming.
With all the flowers blooming, I’ve seen and shot quite a few bees…
…and other bee-like insects.
However, I haven’t been seeing many butterflies so far this year, here’s one that I managed to get a photo of.
Well, I guess that it’s time to go out and face the heat, I hope that I don’t melt. 😉
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!