Wings Up/Wings Down: Crane Pool News « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Wings Up/Wings Down: Crane Pool News


This Sandhill Crane image was created with the Gitzo 3532 LS carbon fiber tripod, the Mongoose M3.6 head, the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon 1.4x EF Extender III (Teleconverter), and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 stop off the white frosted grasses: 1/1600 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode.

One sensor to the left of the central sensor/AI Servo/Surround Rear Focus AF on the spot where the near wing hits the bird’s upper back–active at the moment of exposure. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version. This is a small crop from behind and below from the original.

Wings Up

Wings Up/Wings Down

My two favorite wing positions, illustrated nicely here, are wings up (above) and wings down (below). Take a moment to leave a comment and let us know if you have a general preference for either wings up or wings down. And whatever your preference, let us know which of the two images here you like best. What are the strong points and weak points of each image? Is there anything that you love? Anything that bugs you?


This Sandhill Crane image was the third frame in a sequence of about six. It was created in the same second as the image above, also with with the Gitzo 3532 LS carbon fiber tripod, the Mongoose M3.6 head, the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon 1.4x EF Extender III (Teleconverter), and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 stop off the white frosted grasses: 1/1600 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode.

One sensor to the left of the central sensor/AI Servo/Surround Rear Focus AF just caught the top of the bird’s neck just behind the head–active at the moment of exposure. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version. This is the full frame original capture.

Wings Down

Crane Pool News

Activity at both crane pools has been picking up the last day or two. Both Harry’s Crane Pool and Ed Cranepool have been seeing a lot more activity both mornings and afternoons but still crane numbers at these traditional locations are below average.

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15 comments to Wings Up/Wings Down: Crane Pool News

  • avatar Ingrid L

    I love both wings up and down positions, both beautiful shots Artie, love the sharp eyes.

  • avatar Bill Eaton

    Hey Artie.
    I prefer the wings up position because of the nice capture of the wing tip feathers as well as the horizontal flight position.There also seems to be more detail in the feet and the eye is marginally sharper in the first image.In reality we are splitting hairs as both are very nice images.
    Be well and good shooting.

  • avatar Carl

    Hi Artie- Stunning shots with great lighting. I like both wing positions but am favouring the down one the most here. I like the detail and colour onto of the wings and back. I might prefer a tiny bit more space on the LHS. On the first I enjoy the placement in frame. I must admit initially my eyes were drawn to the blue areas in the beautiful background on both. Sounds like you having fun

  • avatar Deirdre Sheerr-Gross

    2nd shot:

    Great composition.. The Crane and the Mountain: The bird’s shape is repeated in the mountain: The strong downward wing thrust pushes the crane’s mantle (shoulders) up and the neck down, reflecting the shape of the mountain beyond…. and its neck, head and beak flow in parallel to the folds in the unfocused mountains beyond…

    I Love all of what is happening on the right side, and yes, it’s a bit crowded to the left… Not wanting to lose anything to the right… I might add a bit more canvas to the left….

    The background is integrated.. The softly focused BG sets the scene… The dark shadow in the upper right, delineates the mountain…
    You sense the scene where the crane is, but are not distracted by it…

    Also, the crane’s colors are deftly duplicated in the delightfully diffused BG… Including the repeat of the crane’s identifying red head in the rosy hues of the early/late sun warming the snow dappled mountain…

    The Crane seems so alive, so real… 3D… It is flying in front of the photo…
    Great shot!!

  • Both shots capture the beauty of sandhill cranes. I am really drawn to the vulnerability of #2. Placement in the frame fits the mood also.

  • avatar Jerry Murray

    Both photos are good, but I like the first photo (wings up) slightly better.
    I like the crane being more centered in the first photo. I like the background of the second photo (wings down) more than the first photo.

  • avatar Ron May

    Hi Art, I like the first one best of the two. I think the “wings-up” is a bit more dynamic because you know the wings are going to have to come down. That is also my personal preference when shooting BIFs myself, if I am lucky enough to capture them in a “wings-up” position. I also like the OOF background in these images as it is not intrusive and the bird stands out very well against it.

  • avatar Everett Gauthier

    Wings up on a horizontal flight is to me is the most appealing. However this year my focus has been on the smaller birds such as the Chickadees and Titmouse’s and they seldom present them selves in a horizontal flight. What I would like to have you include in your data is time of day the shot was taken AM or PM. The sun position is obvious from the photo.

  • avatar harvey tabin

    I like the wings up. The capture with the wings down looks the like bird is not well.
    Back around in both shots a bid distracting.

  • avatar Gary Axten

    Ever the contrarian I prefer the second image and the wings down position in general. The shadow isn’t distracting as there is still plenty of detail under the wing. I also like the curl in the wing tips in these kinds of images. If I were to nit-pick I’d want a little more space behind the bird but it is a minor nit.

  • avatar Geoff

    I agree that most of the time full up or down stroke are the most appealing. I think I usually prefer full up but not always. For the images presented in this post, I think the 1st is better. The shadow is too obtrusive in the second. I also feel the position of the bird in the frame is perfect in the first but too low and too far to the back of the frame in the 2nd. Very nice images none the less. Keep having fun in Bosque.

    My other favourite wing positions (at least for eagles as I’ve never photographed cranes) is when they create the “M” shape and on take off when the wings go down and forward to almost obscure their heads.

  • avatar Alan Lillich

    P.S. Thanks for the educational postings like this. I’m constantly getting better at evaluating images, especially my own.

  • avatar Alan Lillich

    The first is my favorite. The bird in the second feels crowded into the lower left corner. I suspect the darkish shadow in the lower right of the second emphasizes this feeling since attention is forced more to the brighter left.

  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. I like both of them equally. I like the composition, color, background blurred mountain, and shadows cast by the closer wing on the bird’s other wing (or are two birds involved?). On the wing position, I’ve been taking photographs of feeding eagles and gulls recently, and at least for me, there also can be other wing positions than full up or full down that are appealing and compelling. But in general, I do appreciate your teaching about wing position; it’s very helpful.

  • avatar Marr Miller

    Nicely done, Art. I prefer the first one. The shadow of the near wing on the far one is less intrusive, plus it doesn’t shadow the breast. The shadow (of the mountain?) in the upper right may create more questions than answers, but could be modified, if needed. Good strong sidelight. I doubt if it would make a better image if it were closer to behind you.