Florida waders - Grey Plover

February 22, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Grey Plover (or Black-bellied Plover in the local parlance) are very common on the beaches of the Gulf coast - so common that you sometimes have to force yourself to do something else! I don't necessarily always have that willpower so I've pulled together a series of illustrative shots - some of which I find nice and some of which grate! I'll try and explain why it is that I should not have pressed the shutter - going through your images and self-critiquing is an important part of getting better. You will never critique your own work as well or as harshly as somebody else, so every now and then I get a mate to help me with the paring process. It's hard work, but worthwhile. If however you don't have someone willing, or indeed skilled enough, then having a go yourself is a good place to start, just recognise it's not the real deal.

Head Angle - a slight turn in is always to my mind preferable. Compare the following two images that were more or less in sequence. The first is mostly parallel to the camera, whereas the second has the bird turning in slightly. I know what I like best, but to capture that often means just holding down the trigger actually. Back home you can select that one frame that has the pleasing angle, and then get rid of the rest - birds move quickly and digital is more or less free!

DDistractions - compare these two. The first has a bit of weed or something on the shoreline a few feet back that is right between the feet. It won't clone out easily - far simpler to wait to take the photo until the bird has taken a few more steps. Alternatively if you can move even a tiny bit without scaring the bird, depending how far back the offending item is you could get rid of it or make it a lot easier to clone away. In both of these images I actually find the darker lumps distracting no matter where they are positioned, and if I had more time on my hands I would get rid of all of it! The reason I have not bothered up until this point is that both images are very slightly over-exposed.....

But not as badly as this one! This is what happens when you blast away and don't check your histogram frequently enough. There are many things not to like about this image, the awkward leg angle being just one of them, but why worry too much about that when the whites are utterly fried and unrecoverable. I am talking of course about the area below the bill and then the lower chest. This was on the final morning of my second Florida trip when I finally had some decent light and I think got over-excited!

The next image is also completely blown, but the main subject is OK. The Egret in the background is fried, but I was exposing for a darker bird. This is a case of what might have been I think I like the symmetry, with the subject walking one way and the background going the other way, but in addition to blowing the Egret to bits I've also chopped the top of its head off. If only I had increased my shutter speed and raised the camera a fraction - easy to say now, less easy to do on the spot, but by calling it out I've given myself more of a chance next time. That's not to say I won't blow it again, but the thought will be there.

What about this one? Anything problematic here? I binned it, but it's not immediately obvious as to why. It survived quite a few passes before I spotted it and decided there was an issue.....

And finally a few shots that I prefer above all the others shown in this post, though none are perfect. The first is a bird smaller in the frame, but with parallel lines of water giving some structure. In the second I like the out of focus shells and pebbles, and the ripples in the water. I also like the way these fade to nothing and then become the background. My only critique really is that the bird is a little tight in the frame. The third is a fraction too bright, but not distractingly so. I like the pose.

For me though the pick of the bunch is this one. Why? The light. Do I want a head turn as per the second image in this blog post. Yes I do, but I'll take it!

 


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