Not completely irredeemable

Okay, after that last post we needed something a little more pleasant to look upon (which means, since they display in reverse order and I’m posting this almost immediately after the previous, that you’re receiving a warning of what will be found further down.) So how about a few images from one evening at the nearby pond? You even have the chance to express which one you like the most.

Let’s start with a green heron (Butorides virescens) that was hunting near sunset in a highly visible position. They’re notoriously shy birds and hard to get close to, but this one was intent on its hunting and we were able to creep closer than they normally allow. They’re not big birds, about the body size of crows, so many times smaller than the common great blue herons seen so often.

green heron Butorides virescens hunting at pond's edge
I wasn’t using a particularly long lens, so this was as good as it got – I’m pleased that, with all the distortion in the reflection, the eye itself stood out so well, and in such good light. Almost immediately after this shot, the heron took a stab at a minnow, missed, and flew off, having tolerated our presence for as long as it dared.

Only a few minutes before that, a trio of semi-resident Canada geese (Branta canadensis) decided it was time to wrap it up for the day and took flight, heading off to wherever they settled for the evening; others that were raising young on the pond spend the nights there. As they passed by at low level, wings whirring like faint bullroarers, I tracked them, panning the camera with their movement while firing off several frames. It’s not often that I have the opportunity to try out this technique, and most times it hasn’t produced anything worthwhile, but this time around I liked the results.

Canada geese Branta canandensis taking flight over pond
While it would be ideal to catch the wings in a particular position for best fartistic effect, this isn’t something that I can suggest pursuing – the wing beats are too fast that even catching one goose at just the right point would take exquisite timing; three of them would be entirely luck. These two images are at 1/100 and 1/125 second. Had I held still and fired off my frames as the geese crossed (or stopped my panning motion as I tripped the shutter,) they would have blurred from the lateral movement of the geese – this becomes clear when you look at the blur of the background, streaked horizontally from the camera motion. So I’m pleased that the geese are as sharp as they are. In fact, you can even find a hint of catchlight, sunlight reflecting off of the eye, in both images.

Canada geese Branta canandensis taking flight over pond
Now, I’m torn between these two in regards to which I like the most. I prefer the top one for the positions and clarity of the geese, but the bottom one for the background. Had I only posted one, it might be easy to judge it on its own merits, but with the two close together to compare how they could be different (which is something I do all the time when sorting images,) picking the one that’s best becomes a little trickier. Or it does to me anyway; you might have no problem with dismissing them both. Fine. Be that way.

The real mindset, the one that I encourage everyone to have (and not just with photography,) is to keep thinking of how it could be better. Good shot? Great – be proud of it! But go get a better one now…

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