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Three terrible photos of a Redstart

April 22, 2010

As I delve further and further into photography as a way to experience nature, I find myself living and dying by the Leo Tolstoy principle. 

All great photos are alike, but all terrible photos are terrible in their own way.

What I mean is that many many things have to go right for a photo to come out looking good, but get any one of those things wrong, and you’re left with crap.  Fortunately, I have no qualms about posting crap on my blog.  In fact, long time readers will note I have a history of just that.  And so…

When I returned to Mason Farm I especially wanted to try to get a photo of the Redstarts that had arrived in a big way.  With so many of them and so close to the trail I though even though I was limited to my point and shoot through the scope I should be able to at least make a go of it.  And as I was walking back to my car near the end of the morning I found a willing bird singing prominently in a low tree not more than 15 feet from me at any given point.  This, then, was the opportunity I was waiting for.  The perfect bird.

This is when I learned how photos can go wrong.  First, the bird amazingly moves down to a bare branch and begins singing!  Better, it sits there long enough for me to train the scope on it and fire off a few photos!  This is when I realize that the exposure settings I adjusted way down to photograph a bluebird in full sun just 10 minutes before would not work, but not until after the bird left.  Dang it!

Exposure settings fixed, I tracked the Redstart all over the tree for nearly half an hour taking photo after photo of a blurry bird moving through the trees.  Warblers are very difficult to digiscope, especially handheld, and this guy was no exception.  This was the best I got.  Not quite good enough.

Then, as if a gift from the bird gods the Redstart once again alighted on what seemed to be the only other bare branch on this tree where I could get him in my scope view, only there was a problem.   See if you can find it in the photo below.

And he wouldn’t move, and neither could I since moving either to the left or the right had the bird obscured by extensive leafy greenery.  He sang here for a couple minutes, seeming locked into the spot before eventually flitting back off the trail beyond my view. I took what I had and left with a valuable lesson.

Photography is hard enough without the birds making it harder.

  1. April 22, 2010 7:19 am


  2. April 22, 2010 11:32 am

    Welcome to the fine art of stickology.

  3. Nick permalink
    April 22, 2010 12:46 pm

    Digiscoping warblers is incredibly frustrating.

  4. April 22, 2010 3:16 pm

    Hysterical, Nate! And it’s so true: any one of a billion things can go wrong and make a photo bad, but the stars have to align just right to get a good one. These aren’t as bad as you think, though. The only true sign of a terrible photo is when you can’t tell what it’s a picture of.

  5. May 3, 2010 5:38 pm

    Jason is right these photos arent really bad – whats bad is when you think your photos are terrific and theyre not- : )

  6. Edie Calaway permalink
    May 19, 2010 4:37 pm

    Not bad , those birds are so hard to photograph, its seems you delete 100 pics for everyone one that is just OK!!!!

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