A Tale of Two Seagulls

Actually, it’s the tale of two images of the same seagull. Specifically, frames 5499 and 5500, taken on my recent early morning foray to Bolsa Chica wetlands.

I find these two shots, taken within a fraction of a second, very thought provoking, because they tell me a thing or two about how to edit my images.

I like the light and color, but I don't like the way the gull's head blends into the wing. I also don't like the fact that the farther wing is the sharpest point in the photo, drawing our eyes in the wrong direction.

This one works better for me, because the gull's head is visible and I like the way the bird fills the frame. Even though the focus is once again on the far side of the bird, it SEEMS closer because it's near the lower left of the image. This one also gives the moving bird a space to move into.

Both images have charms of their own, but as my friend Mike Kichaven sometimes reminds me, you can judge a photographer by the size of his reject pile. As I pay more attention to details of composition and technical quality, my reject pile grows, and the remaining images make me look like a good photographer.

Here’s another example:

I've got about twenty well-exposed, sharp pictures of this egret, but I can get rid of this one and eighteen others in favor of the image below.

In nineteen of twenty pictures, this egret is just standing there. Only in this one does it appear to be looking at its reflection. In this image, the bird appears to be doing something, and that makes it a better picture.

Before I started this blog, I tended to dump tons of photos onto my pbase site, with very little discretion. When I asked friends what they thought of the pictures, they’d mention how onerous it was to look through 50 or 80 or 100 images.  Imagine that. Since I only post a handful of images here, the very act of writing this journal is helping me become a better photographer, because I have to think hard and choose my best images. As William Faulkner noted, we must “kill our darlings” to get to our best work. Looks like my “delete” button will be getting more of a workout in the future.

2 Comments

Filed under Lighting, Nature Photography, Post Processing, Professional vs. Amateur

2 responses to “A Tale of Two Seagulls

  1. Tina Horton

    I think you hit the nail on the head. For instance, in the first gull picture, it looks menacing. In the second picture, it looks free, for lack of a better word. I think it’s all about what you want to convey.

  2. Cindy Pitou Burton

    Love your point about editing (it’s sometimes the only difference between the amateurs and the pros!). Plowing through many photos that are marginally different is tedious–while paring down and presenting only the gems packs a wallop. I admired all four of your photos–but that last one is a prize.

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