For Your Critique: Image #2 « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

For Your Critique: Image #2

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This image was created with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens, the 2X III TC, and the EOS-1D Mark IV (hand held at 140mm). ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/4000 sec. at f/5.6 in Av Mode.

For Your Critique: Image #2

Feel free to praise the image above or tear it to shreds. Would you keep it or delete it? Let us know why either way, what you like, or what you hate. What would you have done differently? As we preach on BPN (BirdPhotographers.Net), honest but gentle. Heck, no need to be gentle; polite will do. Above is “Tundra Swan Winter Birdscape.” I look forward to each of you taking your best shot.

Over the course of the next three months or so, I will present eighteen additional images in this series, twenty in all. You can see the first in the series here.

Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of the gear that I used to create the image above. Thanks a stack to all who have used the Shopper’s Guide links to purchase their gear as a thank you for all the free information that we bring you on the Blog and in the Bulletins. Before you purchase anything be sure to check out the advice in our Shopper’s Guide.

Support both the Bulletins and the Blog by making all your B & H purchases here.

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens. Man, I am loving this lens on my shoulder with the 2XIII teleconverter.
Canon EF 2X III TC. It seems that the new 2X (the EF 2X III) is noticeably sharper than the old one (the EF 2X II).
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera bod.y And this is the very best professional digital camera body that I have even used..

And from the BAA On-line Store:

Delkin 32gb e-Film Pro Compact Flash Card. These high capacity cards are fast and dependable. Clicking on the link below will bring you to the Delkin web site. There is lots of great stuff there. If you see a product that we do not carry let us know via e-mail; we will be glad to have it drop-shipped to you and save you a few bucks in the process.

I pack my 800 and tons of other gear in my ThinkTank Airport SecurityTM V2.0 rolling bag for all of my air travel and recommend the slightly smaller Airport InternationalTM V2.0 for most folks. These high capacity bags are well constructed and protect my gear when I have to gate check it on short-hops and puddle jumpers. Each will protect your gear just as well. By clicking on either link or the logo below, you will receive a free gift with each order over $50.

30 comments to For Your Critique: Image #2

  • Bill Parker

    I like it. It would make a great wallpaper border as a continuous strip. I’d buy it, if that counts for anything (it should).

  • Lesley Kes

    I like the image as it is. It looks just like a wonderful winter wonderland – and yes, maybe you do need those sunglasses as someone below wrote.

  • cheapo

    Definitely worth working with, and the natural history of the image is key in this one. Crop at least 2/3rds of the height above the hills and crop the bottom leaving just a bit of the dark blue texture, and you have a super panorama. Personally I’m not to good at the fine points of white balance or color saturation. And presumably the resolution of the small image that I can see and perhaps my old LCD monitor has affected what might be better available detail.


  • I like the layers—all white and blue with the one tan strip. It’s an awesome landscape. Maybe crop a bit of the white water off the bottom—not too much or the swans get too close to the edge. Then darken the remaining white water on the bottom to fit the other blue water, using Aptats, cloning etc. I’d keep the towering clouds as they give a feeling of depth and the expanse of the scene.

  • The image definitely allowed for some worthy study. I’m attempting to visualize the mountains in the shot with greater clarity.

  • Prem Balson

    I am also for a panoramic crop.

  • Eleanor

    I like the crop as is bit would like to see the swans more of a focus and belive this can be accomplished by darkening the bottom right to the edge.

  • Alan Lillich

    First off, I’m a lousy scenic photographer. Second, many photos can look great in a big print that don’t look so great on the web. This photo on the web is OK, but not great to me. The main flaw for me is lack of a clear subject. My eye is bouncing around between the birds, the mountain, and the clouds. The blue and white tones are spread throughout, the brown grass isn’t strong enough, so the subject has to come from the birds, mountains, or clouds as shapes. I wonder about using a longer lens, vertical orientation, move somewhat right, try to make the group of birds on the right more prominent as the subject. How much to move right depends on the bird to mountain relationship, I think keep the highest peak but maybe not centered. (At least by picking the group on the right I’ve learned to not have partial birds on the sides.)

  • David Policansky

    Dear Artie: I think it’s a marvelous image, for all the reasons others have given. I’d add that the pattern the swans make is delightful and the environment is very beautiful. I’d be very happy if I had made it and for sure would frame it and find wall space for it. But after I read the posts from people who suggested editing it, I decided to play with it myself some. I cropped it, upped the contrast, darkened it, made it monochrome, and a few other things (not all at the same time, of course!). Much of the time I liked the image after I’d played with it as well. I think the main lesson for me is that photography is an art form (someone’s web site intimates this, I think 🙂 ) and that there often are several artistically pleasing ways of rendering a scene photographically. Sure, there are tried-and-true approaches that make for better photos much of the time, and there often are straightforward errors, but I find sometimes when others (even you) have critiqued my own images that often we’re talking about differences of opinion, that there are different strokes for different folks (and other times of course the suggestions make the difference between a nice and a great image).

    Thanks for sharing the lovely image and giving us the opportunity to comment on it.


  • Debby C

    I like this image. I like how the blue shades are well balanced in the photo, and how well the composition of the photo appears, with the water, the swans, the mountains and the clouds. I like the crop just like it is. I thought at first it’s a bit bright on exposure, but overall I love the color. I can see it framed in my living room.

  • Jeff Dyck

    I like the shot as presented Artie (although I could live with the pano crop). I like the cool feeling of all those blues and whites.

    I have to ask –> 1/4000s @ f/5.6? What was the reasoning behind those settings? Were you anticipating a take-off? For a scene like this I think I would have stopped down and possibly dropped the ISO.

    Jeff, good question. I wanted work at a wide aperture and have the swans in focus with foreground and background softer (but there was still lots of d-o-f due to the distance to the birds). A bit more d-o-f would surely have been fine.

  • Jim Ducey

    I like it, it elicits very peaceful feeling of nature at peace. For me the emotions that a photo brings about are one of the strongest things of photography.

  • It makes a beautiful B&W. Just pull the Blue, Aqua and Orange sliders to the left in Bridge. Looked great. NIK Silver would be even better. Like it as is too.

  • Jack Breakfast

    Arthur Morris, you are my favorite bird photographer, and there isn’t even a close second. To my eye, the layers in this photo are lovely, but I wish the swans weren’t quite so bright-white. Anyhow, lovely as always, but I wouldn’t complain if the overall exposure was a little lower…

  • Therese S

    I love the patterns found in this photo. The clouds repeating the pattern of the mountains and repeated again in the water, the horizontal lines in the swans, water and land. This is a landscape photo, not a swan photo, I think cropping would lose that intent.

  • Lorraine

    Overall, too high key for my taste.

  • Pat Fishburne


  • Jay

    I like the shot and would keep it. In particular, I like the contrast between the blues of the water, shadows and sky, with the whites of the snow and clouds. The one aspect that prevents me from loving the shot is the way the whites off the mountains hit me. It seems a little bright (but then I tend to darken my pics a little more than I probably should when attempting to edit them). Looking at the shot, I keep having the feeling that I need to put on my sunglasses.

  • Charlie Young

    Great photo,Artie. I personally would crop the picture just above the mountain tops for a faux panorama effect.

  • brendan

    I’d be thrilled with it, but its far from your best, I think. Its a little “still-life”-ish, meaning a bit un-dynamic and sedate. Personally, I think the size of the cloud is a bit daunting, and it may work better as a panorama with much of the top half removed. So, very good, but not as inspiring as most of your work…

  • Peter Noyes

    Great Picture. I am not able to add any constructive criticism to it. I think it is great the way it is. I don’t really see any way you could improve it. I held paper to it to see what it would like if it were cropped and, to me, it would detract from the picture. I say congratulations on a great picture

  • Michael Eckstein

    This shot is all about balance. Every segment in the image balances with the others. The swans balance with the land and the sky balances with it as well. I don’t think making this a panorama by cropping the sea and the sky would work because it would upset this balance.

  • Don Hulley

    Certainly a keeper. I like the repeating horizontal lines in the lower half of the image as well as the horizontal bands of water, snow, mountains and cloud and their diiferent textures. Not so certain about the tone of the blue sky, maybe a deeper blue to fit in with the other blues in the image, but that is purely a personal opinion.

  • Elizabeth Lodwick

    I agree with Gerald, think that this would make a great panorama- crop most of the sky out and a little of the bottom.

  • Mary Stamper

    Definitely a keeper. I’d get rid of that tiny little spot in the extreme lower left corner. Otherwise, I like it as is. Might play with making the mountain and the lower part of the clouds a little more dramatic.

  • Odd Johan Lundberg

    Without a doubt a keeper. Nice colors. Nice ballance, UNTIL you get to the lower part. Left corner is distracting. Without that part it’s probably good, if not the pattern in the water will make some inballance since its ‘thin’ to the left and increases to right.

  • At the beginning it was hard to fix and understand the different planes. Later my eyes go to the swans. What I like the most is the gentle wave in front of them.
    Yes it’s a keeper because is one of those photos that you have to discover all the elements.

  • Chuck Mohr

    A large group of large birds is interesting in itself, but I think the composition is too symmetric and centered – flock, clouds, and hill. I’d be tempted to introduce some variation by moving a few yards to the right – especially if the partial hill on the left is higher than the center one. Center the flock and introduce some asymmetry in the background.

  • Gerald Kelberg

    I like the shot as presented, but might crop the image about half way through the cloud to a panorama crop – giving more prominence to the swans, rather than having them as just a foreground element.

  • Jamie Douglas

    Big fan. I really like the scene as it has a lot of depth. The wave, the swans, the shoreline, the fields, the hills, cloud shadow, clouds, and finally sky. A definite keeper in my opinion.