The Perfect Photo Home ยป content

The Perfect Photo

There are many things I like about bird photography. The first is connecting with the infinite beauty of the natural world, and the miracle of life on earth. The next, and related to the first, is being in the great outdoors with clean air and none of the distractions of daily urban life. And I think these are the things that inspire 'birders', and most nature lovers.

Photography is a totally different topic. It appeals to people like me, a computer programmer, who are technical, and to very non-technical people who are artistic.But in both cases, serious photographers are always trying to improve their results. Every photo is analyzed and critiqued. With bird photography, so many things are out of our control; we are restricted by the bird's location and actions. Then we need all the correct camera settings, a vibration free platform, and perfect lighting and timing. And of course we need the correct equipment. So virtually every photo has some element that could be at least a little better. In fact, one idea I had for my photos on is to list all of the things wrong with the photo, because that is how I look at most of them.

The other aspect of bird photography is highlighting the important features and behavior of a particular bird. A Harris Hawk for example is known for 'stacking', or standing on top of another Harris Hawk, who might be on a cactus, to get a better view. Birds who are feeding or flying are generally more interesting. So the ideal Harris Hawk photo might show the hawk with open wings, landing on top of another hawk, which is standing on a cactus in a Northern Mexico desert. A different example is the American Coot. The important features are the bright red eye and large yellow feet. The black feathers and the red eye look best when shot in sunlight. The young coots are very cute, so having one in the picture is a huge plus. Having said this, sometimes a simple sharp picture with balanced colors can also be a masterpiece.

So for me, one reason I return to the same places to shoot the same birds is that I am never quite happy with the results. In my case, I have an excellent lens (the Canon 200mm IS F2.8 L) but for bird photography, 200mm is rarely strong enough. So I use a 2X teleconverter, and I don't think I can ever take the perfectly sharp photo that I want (probably a good discussion topic). So I have a good excuse, but this is just an excuse for about 5% of my photos. Most could be improved by better technique or better luck with the bird. And I have never shot a perfect shot in an aviary. So I keep trying, and keep searching for perfect photos from contributors.