What a Difference a Year Makes!

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Last November, I submitted a Sandhill Crane colt image for publication in our MFC Spirit magazine at work. I watched and waited, but it didn’t appear in the magazine, and I thought it hadn’t been selected. Then yesterday people started congratulating me for my picture — and after seeing it in print, I thought, “wow! I have plenty of better pictures now!”

Sandhill Crane colt - Spring 2010 (left) and Spring 2011 (right)

Sandhill Crane colt - Spring 2010 (left) and Spring 2011 (right)

It’s fun to look back occasionally and see how you are growing as a photographer. It’s easy to say that I have better images now that I have a Beast (are you reading, Michael? :)) But these images were both taken with the same lens, my old 400mm.  The differences are in my technique:

  • Angle.  The first image was taken with my 400mm lens tripod-mounted.  I was standing when I took the picture.  The second image was taken hand-held while I was kneeling, trying to get down at birds-eye level.
  • Light.  The harsh shadow across the SHC colt’s face always bugged me in the first image.  I tried to Photoshop it out, but I was never totally happy with the result.  Now I’ve learned to “shoot into my shadow” to get the optimum light angle.
  • Extension tubes.  I used an extension tube on my second year’s image because I was too close to the bird.  (Isn’t it nice when that’s a problem?)  The tube contributes to the nice blurry background.
  • Distracting Foreground.  I’ve learned to be more patient and wait for the birds to come to good locations (when possible).  There are distracting grasses in the foreground of last year’s image.  This year, I waited for the bird to come out into the open.

Is it the weekend yet?  Practice makes perfect!! :)

One thought on “What a Difference a Year Makes!

  1. First off, congratulations!! It’s always great to be recognized. Second, yes, I am reading…I’m a daily reader! And you’re absolutely right about technique being more important than equipment. I’ve had my 100-400 for 2.5 years now and when I look back at some of my images from that first year, I can see how much I’ve improved. I have a lot more to improve before I catch up with you! But I still want a Beast!!

    Let me know if you’re headed to MI or Viera this weekend. I’m itching to get out. It’s been 5 weeks since I’ve done any real shooting.

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