[dc]T[/dc]he past few weeks, while birding has been slow, I have devoted my free time to finally organizing all my bird photos by species, month, and year. I finished that up a few days ago and then began going through them and picking out my single best shot of each species (if I even had anything worthwhile). Going through and really seeing what sorts of photos I had for each species, I noticed a few things. One was that I had some embarrassing misses in my photo library, for instance I honestly don’t have a single shot that I would be willing to display publicly of Black-capped Chickadee and Ruby-throated Hummingbird. I have lived in PA my entire life – both of these birds are incredibly common. The second thing was that for some species, I almost had a decent shot. By this I mean the bird I was trying to get a picture of was posing perfectly and at a perfect distance where I could really capture a great shot if everything went smoothly. Instead due to bad lighting, poor angles, poorly-placed stick or other obstacle, and mainly various screw-ups on my part as the photographer the shots were just really unfortunate mess-ups. Below are two messed-up photos that really bother me because if conditions had just been a little better and I would have taken the correct steps to getting the right shot, these would be my best photos of that species.
This first photo, of a Black-collared Barbet I saw in South Africa, could have been awesome. From the first time I saw this species, I knew I wanted to get a nice photo of one before I had to leave. Despite seeing groups of them almost everyday on morning birdwalks I just couldn’t get close enough to the birds. Finally, one afternoon I discovered four barbets right outside my room. One bird let me approach it fairly closely but it was impossible for me to avoid having the incredibly overcast and blown-out sky as the background. On the other hand, the overcast skies created nice lighting which I feel made the bird itself look very nice. Overall, I just don’t like it.
Another South African species, the Black-backed Puffback was one of my nemesis birds during my three month tour of the country. I saw and heard them almost daily, but their secretive nature made it impossible for me to get an unobstructed shot. Until one morning when the bird pictured below was climbing around in a leafless tree and allowed me to approach it. First off, the background is blown-out and terrible. Second, even in this leafless tree the puffback would not let me get an angle on it where it was 100% unobstructed. As you can see, the main focal point, the face, has a stick right across it.
Please let me know and show me some examples of your unfortunate mess-ups….I know I can’t be the only one!