What’s a “Good” photo?

I take a lot of pictures of the same subjects it’s a product of convenience. I take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to me as many amateur photographers most likely do. The critters come in waves of migratory birds and mammals emerging from their nests when the young are born. There is an overlap in the populations, the Mallards arrive as the White Fronted Geese are leaving for the nesting grounds.

The Great Blue Herons fledgelings are out of the nest and began learning to hunt last week. Yesterday morning I was taking pictures there were some Canadians, Mallards and a few White Egrets. It was the Blue Herons that were dominating the slough; the adults along with their fledglings. The difference in appearance between the adults and yearlings is very hard to detect; it’s more of a position of dominance that the adults hold.

I kept the bird in the upper part of the picture to allow it to reflect on the reflection near the rear of the bird. My thought was it’s interesting and adds to the picture. Unfortunately I don’t think many people will see it much less appreciate it; when the photographer has to search for it there is a problem with the composition.

It is unclear to me how the (parents) instruction goes it certainly doesn’t appear to be very much “teaching”.

My goal is to be a bit “artsy” with the pictures and keeping them within the original colors presented during the photo sessions. What it renders down to is cleaning up the debris in the water and cropping a bit to eliminate edge distractions. Such as the Tules in the foreground of this image, I debated whether they belonged in the photo or were a distraction. I chose to leave them in, at the end of the day I believe they enhance it. I typically take 10 of each shot eliminating all but the three best, editing them all I then keep the best.

There are those such as the picture above that has many violations of some of the “rules” of photography. An example is the Tules in the foreground may be a distraction to the viewer. Alas there are exceptions to every rule and must be judged on an as presented and determined by the viewer. If any of that makes sense; in other words this image works; but it doesn’t work for everyone. That’s where trying to win over everyone will affect all of the photos because then I’m compromising in the attempt which will mostly likely be unsuccessful.

Another method is to capture the subject doing something interesting; or doing anything at all. The Heron above caught a fish, then lost it on the dock and into the water. I was able to take the entire sequence but is not of the quality for a wall hanger. They don’t have to be display quality, they still may have no flaws which makes them perfect for a blog. They remain worth keeping however the danger is convincing our selves they are top shelf items; for the most part they are not. But I was never so surprised as when one of my pictures came “runner up” in a contest.

This picture was voted #2 in a contest based on Utility Equipment. I felt if was a good photo and tells a story; just exactly what that is I’m not sure. Perhaps more than that is a simple question “what the heck is this all about?” I’m not sure however the lighting is interesting to say the least.

This picture is a very “nice” photograph, good composition, color and it tells a story. One thing it doesn’t do is entice the viewer to stick around longer than to count the Goslings. It is what I call a “scroll by”, many wildlife photos are in that category. To sell this picture it would have to be in collage of 4-5 other related pictures. However they should be displayed in groups of 3-5 or 7, the number 7 should be used sparingly as the image will have a tendency to be out of balance; even numbers must never be used unless there is no other way to present a point.

A good photo but is another “Scroll by”.

That brings me full circle back to taking at least 10 images of each target; it increases the chances of getting one keeper better. A group of 8 photographs has a good chance of producing one keeper where as 10 practically guarantees one. Of the 370 I took yesterday morning I culled it down to keeping 111 but will end up in the 70-80 keeper range which is around 20% keepers and is very good. However 1 in 5,000 has a chance of producing a national contender, but 1 in 10,000 practically guarantee’s it. I have 10,000 photos but lack one good enough for a world wide contest; professional photographers are unbelievably good; they take just as many pictures but are much more knowledgable about which ones are the best to keep.

Jacques Lebec Natural Self Reliance

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