For Your Critique: Image #7 « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

For Your Critique: Image #7

This image of a Mute Swan flapping after a bath was created at the East Pond, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Queens, NY with the tripod-mounted Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/2000 sec. at f/6.3.

Both Canada Goose and Mute Swan are often ignored as potential photographic subjects. Though I am not a fan of introduced species like Mute Swan, I do not hesitate to both photograph them and use them as teaching aids. When you see either species dipping their breasts in the water, get ready to create some dramatic images as they will almost always rise up out of the water and flap for all they are worth. The same goes for most bird families especially shorebirds and ducks.

For a greater appreciation of the image above, click on the photo to view a larger version. Click on the enlarged version to close it.

For Your Critique: Image #7

The image above is presented for your critique; feel free to praise it or tear it to shreds. All suggestions are welcome. 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?

Over the course of the next two months or so, I will present thirteen additional images in this series for a total of twenty in all. The last will be followed by several revelations including two major ones.

Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of the gear used to create the image in today’s blog post. 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.

Remember: you can earn free contest entries with your B & H purchases. Eleven great categories, 34 winning and honored images, and prize pools valued in excess of $20,000. Click here for details.

Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens. Right now this is my all time favorite super-telephoto lens.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body. My two Mark IVs are my workhorse digital camera bodies.

And from the BAA On-line Store:

LensCoats. I have a LensCoat on each of my big lenses to protect them from nicks and thus increase their re-sales value. All my big lens LensCoat stuff is in Hardwood Snow pattern.
LegCoat Tripod Leg Covers. I have four tripods active and each has a Hardwood Snow LegCoat on it to help prevent further damage to my tender shoulders 🙂
Gitzo GT3530LS Tripod. This one will last you a lifetime.
Mongoose M3.6 Tripod Head. Right now this is the best tripod head around for use with lenses that weigh less than 9 pounds. For heavier lenses, check out the Wimberley V2 head.
CR-80 Replacement Foot for Canon 800. When using the 800 on a Mongoose as I do, replacing the lens foot with this accessory lets the lens sit like a dog whether pointed up or down and prevents wind-blown spinning of your lens on breezy days by centering the lens directly over the tripod.
Double Bubble Level. You will find one in my camera’s hot shoe whenever I am not using flash.
Be sure to check out our camera body User’s Guides here.
The Lens Align Mark II. I use the Lens Align Mark II pretty much religiously to micro-adjust all of my gear an average of once a month and always before a major trip. Enjoy our free comprehensive tutorial here.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV User’s Guide. Learn to use your Mark IV the way that I use mine.

14 comments to For Your Critique: Image #7

  • Mary Stamper

    Beautiful, beautiful shot. And don’t you even think of removing the brownish green bands from the upper part of the background. It gives a nice sense of depth, like you can reach behind the bird. If you homogenize the colors in the background, it’ll flatten out.

  • John Storjohann

    Hi Artie. Wonderful pose…and dang, you NAILED the whites..great feather detail throughout. The curve of the neck, with the body outstretched…the whisps of askew feathers here and there…a lot of details that keep the eye happy, dancing through the image. I love the little water droplets between the neck and the wing on the left; but on the larger image, about 1/3 of the way in from the RHS, straight out from the bill and slightly lower is a single stray drop that draws my eye to it; I’d be tempted to clone that one out. Did I mention that you nailed the whites?

  • Bill Griswold

    Really lovely. I think the framing could be improved a little. I wonder how the shot would look if shot from a lower angle, with the bird a little higher in the frame. I might also try moving the bird a little to the left or cropping tight and putting it in the center.

    As for the banding, I wonder how this shot might look in B&W. This photo is mostly monochromatic, except for the beak. Could be quite striking in B&W.

  • Bruce Shanks

    Definitely a “keeper”. My preference is to crop the upper brownish and blue bands of the water and reflections. Leaving the majority of the lower band with a corresponding crop from left and right edges, to maintain proportions, and still leave more space in front of the bird. It is a pity that the dark area of eye and surrounds has lost detail, but I guess contrast ranges can only be covered up to a certain point. By masking and work with levels and curves,( it may be possible ?%@#!!* ) to get some detail in this area. A minor criticism of a lovely image of a graceful bird. A pity they are hobbled in this way.As the clipping of the right wing primaries are to prevent the bird from flying away from the location, which may be a public or private park.

    Bruce. The bird is not hobbled in any way. See my comments to Mike H way down below 🙂 artie

  • cheapo

    It’s a nice shot. Someone give that swan a towel and a hair brush!

  • Jon

    Excellent shot, great detail and exposure. I sense there is something awry with the right wing primaries, they appear to be cut off. This doesn’t bother me nor does the water variability in colour because the bird is just so darned detailed!

    Thanks Jon. See my comment to Mike H. below. artie

  • yes, sometimes the water can be beautiful or ugly. Such is nature. I usually crop mine a little more if the water isn’t pleasing.

    overall, this is a beautiful piece, it’s not always that we get the perfect pose. I like the feather softness you have created by not over-doing the contrast.

  • Ted Willcox

    A keeper for sure. Nice composition, great exposure, incredible sharpness. A beautiful regal looking subject.

  • Bill Richardson

    I like it a lot–lots of movement, nice head position. Most impressive is the holding of detail in the whites. The brown splotches don’t bother me but you could easily correct them using the Color Replacement Brush in the brush fold out menu.

  • I like the image but wonder if it is possible to bring out the texture on the breast feathers a little?

    Jack. You may need to calibrate your monitor or adjust the screen angle; the breast feathers all show great detail. artie

  • Artie, Is it my imagination or just the angle, but it appears that the outer 5 or 6 primaries on the right wing have been cut.

    Hey Mike, If you enlarge the image you can see that the near wing is foreshortened a bit, with the first six or so primary tips curled towards us. artie

    ps: Mike, an excellent writer and photographer, will be a guest co-leader on the 2012 Bosque IPT (dated tba). He edited Gloria Hopkin’s great e-book, Natural Design.

  • I like the image a lot. I would definitely keep it and probably add it to my website and albums on FB. I appreciate how the 1/2000 of a second for exposure completely stopped action.

  • I love the image . . . the pose and the framing. I wish the brownish/greenish water stripes weren’t there. But is there any effective way to get rid of them or minimize them? Gorgeous light.

    Posibly. But I would not know how to do it…. Maybe Denise does. artie