In photography a pretty common term is “rule of thirds”. But another compositional photography term is “rule of odds: Here is the definition of the “rule of odds”. I try to use it as much as possible but it is hard with moving birds. It takes time, patience and luck. Also important is the “rule of odds” also can be applied to groups of odd numbers as in a 3 different groups of birds or whatever. Be careful with the odds, I find 3 objects works well, anything else gets lost.
Try to be objective about your photos. At first glance I liked the above photo but the more I looked the more flaws I saw. I saw the blurred foot especially. The blur drew my eye to the wrong spot. The twig in front of the Black-crowned Night-Heron was a distraction too. Trying to rationalize will only make it worst. It was a good try under difficult conditions to even get this particular shot. But it is not a wall hanger. Delete it and move on. Time will erase your feelings for this photo.
The original interesting photo looked like this:
Sometimes just changing the photo slightly can make a difference. I do it often particularly with bird head shots.
The number one element in obtaining a merit photo (80 or above in most cases) is impact. There are exceptions, BUT, don’t lose sight of impact. Usually a good impactful photo tells a story. Judges / people should not have to wonder what the photographer is trying to say through the photo.
Sometimes I get “brain freeze” and just can’t seem to have an idea what I want to photograph. Here is an example of what I found on my patio. A honeybee busy at work. Opportunities are all around if you are patient. Sometimes I just sit and wait for a gift to come along.
There are good photos, very good photos and then exceptional photos. What they all have in common besides good composition is the Wow Factors- Impact and the ability to convey a compelling story. If a photo does not need a title to tell the story then your really on the right track. The title is just the icing on the cake. Here are some examples:
Often when shooting macro or really close-up, I could use something to hold a leaf, branch, flashlight, light diffuser or just something to gently push something else to the side. I like to use what is called a Plamp II. The official name is a Wimberley Plamp II. Here are a few photos of the Plamp II in action and CLICK HERE for a You Tube video link that will give you more information and ideas:
In this series of photos, I used the Plamp II by attaching it to a chair and the stem of milky weed. It helps too when the wind is blowing and you attach the Plamp to the stem of a flower to give it more sturdiness. Also, as I said before, you can use the Plamp just to move other vegetation to the side and out of the way of the shot without damaging any plants or living things. The video gave me the idea of using a small flash light which can come in handy too.
The world is full of unusual situations. This includes the world of nature. People ask me how do you do it. My answer is patience, anticipation and luck. I also say that being in the right place at the right time is a factor, but, that could be considered luck too. To make your photos interesting wait for interesting things to happen. Try to place yourself in the right circumstance or place to increase your chance of a good opportunity. A bird on a branch is ok, but a bird on a branch with an insect is better, a bird on a branch with an insect feeding a baby is even better. I think you get the idea.
Right from the start of my photographer adventure, it was pounded into my head that IMPACT, FOCUS, AND STORY TELLING are key ingredients to a good photo. I would add COLOR OR NO COLOR (black and white) HELPS TOO. Here are some photos that get the point across.
Riding the Crest
Good Action and certainly tells the story. Surfers are magnificent athletes. A good site to use concerning surfing conditions is: www. surfline.com
Tells the Story and has impact. This Osprey flew with this long piece of moss like material and landed not too far away from me. I was ready with my 500mm.
Story and Impact- Sea Otters are really fun to watch. They have really strong teeth. They seem to always be playing.
Munch Munch Munch
Story, Impact, Focus and Color- This is a Monarch larvae. I read that the Monarch butterfly will be extinct in 20 years.
Follow the Sun
In past blogs, I mentioned look behind you. I was walking with my back to this sunset because the tide was rising fast and I did not want to get caught without an exit. Every 100 feet or so I would turn around and shoot, turn around and shoot. This was one of the many shots I got. I used a tripod and slowed the shutter down along with a Variable Neutral Density Filter. Simple but tells the story, has impact and is colorful.
A bird with something in it’s mouth, or singing the blues is more interesting than a tight billed bird. I understand that sometimes there is an outstanding shot of a bird with nothing in its mouth and it is not singing. But, in general try to get that type of action. Fighting or using its claws is fair game too. Note too that all four photos tell a story. The Belted Kingfisher with the minnow in its mouth was a lucky high percentage shot. Kingfishers are one of the toughest birds to photograph. They are fast, elusive and don’t like a lot of people around. The settings using a 5oomm canon lens with a 1.4x extender was: f/9.5, iso 800, 1/2000.
Nice shot of the Spotted Towhee but compared to the other “action” shots it is out of the competition.