C&C Why do I hate it (picture of a Robin)

Photon

Mu-43 Regular
Joined
Jan 31, 2012
Messages
87
I have recently started to get into Bird photography a bit using a used Olympus 300mm and 1.4 teleconveter I recently aquired.

I have been trying to get some closeup portraits of birds, which is a bit challenging (part of the fun). I was out on Sunday morning and a Robin landed on a branch a couple of meters away; just the picture I was looking for. It was well lit by the sun that had recently risen above the horizon.

I got back and started editing the picture and realized that I do not like it, but I cannot articulate the reason (I normally can). It is certainly not a super special picture but it is sharp and the pose is reasonable. The only technical flaw I see is that some of the wing feathers are outside the depth of field (should have stopped down).

Below are a couple of revisions of the photo:
Output-3070142.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
Output-3070142.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


Are there issues with the composition, colors (e.g robin and blue sky), lighting, or editing? Or am I being too picky? I am trying to decide if this one ends up in the delete pile or if I should keep playing with it.

Sorry for being long winded. Any feedback is appreciated.
 

DeeJayK

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Feb 8, 2011
Messages
3,476
Location
Pacific Northwest, USA
Real Name
Keith
I think it's the couple of stray long hairs in his beard. :sorry:

Joking aside, they're it's a nice image technically in terms of focus, depth of field, etc. But I agree that there's really nothing about the image that makes it "special" or really draws my attention.

Of the two versions I prefer the first. In fact, I wonder if an image that were wider still would be even better. I understand the desire to fill the frame, but somehow the cropped image is missing "context" (for lack of a better word).

I wonder also if the pure blue sky doesn't hurt the image to some degree. While realizing you can't always control the background and you don't want it to be too busy, I can't help but feel a bit of variation in the background (some clouds or distant branches) might also make for a stronger image.

- K
 

Bushboy

Mu-43 All-Pro
Joined
Apr 22, 2018
Messages
1,646
I think it’s the perch. it would be nicer if the perch actually ended. The background sky is not conducive to a fab shot as was noted also. Still, it’s ok for a novice...lol.
 

Photon

Mu-43 Regular
Joined
Jan 31, 2012
Messages
87
Thank you for the feedback. Your opinions kind of match what I was thinking (the blue sky does not work). I wonder if that can be explained by color theory or if it is simply not that interesting?

The reason for attempting the closer crop was that the branch is out of focus, which I found a bit distracting. But I agree that the composition of the wider shot seems more ideal.
 

Brownie

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Sep 3, 2018
Messages
3,570
Location
SE Michigan
Real Name
Tim
Of the two versions I prefer the first. In fact, I wonder if an image that were wider still would be even better. I understand the desire to fill the frame, but somehow the cropped image is missing "context" (for lack of a better word).

This

Close up bird shots are nice, but the good ones allow the subject to breath. This feels too tight.
 

Phocal

Mu-43 Legend
Joined
Jan 3, 2014
Messages
6,028
Location
Mars
Several things
  1. It really helps to have full exif information as well as how much of a crop when asking for a critique.
  2. It is in portrait orientation and it just seems that photos in portrait are just hard to enjoy on a computer screen, especially if you have to scroll to see the entire photograph.
  3. You are looking up at the bird. I seldom take photos where I am not eye level with my subject. If you are eye level the photos will always look much better.
  4. It is well lit but it is just bright light. It isn't that magical early morning or late evening light that produces that amazing glow and golden color.
  5. The 2nd photo is to cramped.
  6. Even the 1st photo is not well composed. Honestly, use the rule of thirds and you photos will have a much better impact. His eye is dead center but above the top most horizontal rule of thirds line. If you had backed off some (that is if this is full image and not a crop) to get a better composition or gotten much closer for a head and shoulder shot that was well composed it would have been better.
You mention stopping down for more DoF but honestly it isn't needed. I also challenge you to dig into the exif and get the focus distance and determine the DoF in the photograph. Armed with that information figure out how much you need to stop down to get the entire bird into focus. If your 1st image is uncropped (if not I would love to see the full image) I am betting you would have had to really stop down to get the entire bird into focus, well into the diffraction territory. Which could lead to much higher ISO or to slow of a shutter speed.
 
Joined
Dec 2, 2014
Messages
6,498
Location
Knoxville, TN
  1. Even the 1st photo is not well composed. Honestly, use the rule of thirds and you photos will have a much better impact. His eye is dead center but above the top most horizontal rule of thirds line. If you had backed off some (that is if this is full image and not a crop) to get a better composition or gotten much closer for a head and shoulder shot that was well composed it would have been better.

I was trying to put my finger on what I would have done to compose a bit better and I think @Phocal nailed it with this. I would have attempted to put the eye at the intersection of the top and left thirds line. This would have give the bird a bit more room to breathe in the frame and maybe added a little anticipation to the capture, as if the viewer is just waiting for it to take off to the right.

That being said, as is, this shot would be the best robin photo I had ever shot if it were mine. Nice capture. Just another example of why I wish I could shoot with that lens.
 

Phocal

Mu-43 Legend
Joined
Jan 3, 2014
Messages
6,028
Location
Mars
I was trying to put my finger on what I would have done to compose a bit better and I think @Phocal nailed it with this. I would have attempted to put the eye at the intersection of the top and left thirds line. This would have give the bird a bit more room to breathe in the frame and maybe added a little anticipation to the capture, as if the viewer is just waiting for it to take off to the right.

That being said, as is, this shot would be the best robin photo I had ever shot if it were mine. Nice capture. Just another example of why I wish I could shoot with that lens.

I know a lot of people poo poo the rule of thirds and other compositional techniques but they were developed because they do work. I spent a little over 2 years as an admin for one of those IG feature accounts and since IG shows the rule of third lines when posting a photograph I noticed that 90% of the images I featured followed the rule of thirds. The ones that didn't either used a different compositional rule or broke them all for a good reason.

I always hated that my original EM1 had lines for the golden ratio but not the rule of thirds. So happy my EM1X has the lines for rule of thirds, makes my shooting so much easier. Yes, I shoot with composition in mind.......................
 

Photon

Mu-43 Regular
Joined
Jan 31, 2012
Messages
87
Good point about posting the original. I posted from my phone and did not have it handy. It is attached below (straight out of Lightroom without edits). I am surprised exif information was not included in the previous pictures (they were posted from my Google photo account).

Output-3070142-2.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


I agree with the comments about the rule of thirds and leaving negative space. it is possible I let my desire for a closeup get the best of me. Though, I don't think it is really possible to put the eye at the vertical thirds line without a very odd crop in this picture. Composing at 420mm is certainly a challenge, particularly when trying to capture birds at eye level (it is a learning process).

I greatly appreciate all of the feedback so far. I think it is helping me make sense of my dissatisfaction with the picture, which will be helpful moving forward.

And just for fun, below is a Robin picture I like.
Output-2150097.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


These are the only two Robin pictures I have taken :).
 

Phocal

Mu-43 Legend
Joined
Jan 3, 2014
Messages
6,028
Location
Mars
Good point about posting the original. I posted from my phone and did not have it handy. It is attached below (straight out of Lightroom without edits). I am surprised exif information was not included in the previous pictures (they were posted from my Google photo account).

View attachment 877262

I agree with the comments about the rule of thirds and leaving negative space. it is possible I let my desire for a closeup get the best of me. Though, I don't think it is really possible to put the eye at the vertical thirds line without a very odd crop in this picture. Composing at 420mm is certainly a challenge, particularly when trying to capture birds at eye level (it is a learning process).

I greatly appreciate all of the feedback so far. I think it is helping me make sense of my dissatisfaction with the picture, which will be helpful moving forward.

And just for fun, below is a Robin picture I like.
View attachment 877263

These are the only two Robin pictures I have taken :).

A couple of things.

You could improve that first image using Photoshop and its Content Aware feature. How? I would erase the tips of the branches on the left side so that they appear to dead end. Than I would expand the canvas on top and right side and use Content Aware to fill in the new canvas with basically blue sky. You could try to add to the branches if you wanted but that would require some really good PS skills. It would look way to odd getting the eye to junction of horizontal and vertical rule of third lines but you could easily get the eye over to the left vertical line. Would greatly improve the image.

On the second image you like it because you are eye level (or close enough) and its eye is very close to the top left junction. You don't have to be at exactly that junction, close is good enough and in this image you are close enough.

I highly recommend turning on the grid lines on your EVF and using it when taking photos. It is way to hard to crop to a good composition when you just use the center focus point and put the eye dead center of the photo. Get in the habit of shooting with composition in mind and moving that focus point around. It will greatly improve you photography and make editing so much easier.

my 2 copper pieces,

Phocal
 

Generationfourth

Mu-43 Veteran
Joined
Sep 11, 2015
Messages
339
I agree with the consensus here about getting eye level, and having negative space. It's very tight and as a result there is no context on the overall environment. And my eye gets drawn downwards... to an out of focus branch. Your second photo I think is a lot better because of the fence and some of the greenery in the foreground but does not distract from the very good detail on the bird.
 

Photon

Mu-43 Regular
Joined
Jan 31, 2012
Messages
87
I estimate that the subject was ~12 feet away (not sure how to get an exact measure without knowing the height of the bird). With a focal length of 420mm and f5.6, it gives a depth of field of approximately +/-0.24 inches. Shooting at f8 would have given approximately +/-0.36. I agree that it would not have helped a lot.
 

doady

Mu-43 Veteran
Joined
May 18, 2020
Messages
312
Location
Canada
That wider version is more balanced. Bird looking right, drawing the viewer's attention to the right side, so leave more space on the right.

Seeing more of the branch, more context helps too, but the bird's tail might be too distracting, it might have too much weight, drawing too much attention to the bottom of the picture, so maybe crop 10% or so of the bottom for better balance.

For me, composition is not about "rule of thirds", it's more about visual balance. Each element in a photo has certain weight, or pull the viewer's attention in a certain direction. One of the articles that really helped me when I was starting out was "Visual Balance" by Richard Martin in Photolife. Maybe you will find it interesting too.
 

Phocal

Mu-43 Legend
Joined
Jan 3, 2014
Messages
6,028
Location
Mars
I estimate that the subject was ~12 feet away (not sure how to get an exact measure without knowing the height of the bird). With a focal length of 420mm and f5.6, it gives a depth of field of approximately +/-0.24 inches. Shooting at f8 would have given approximately +/-0.36. I agree that it would not have helped a lot.

Not sure what camera you are using but most of them will have the focus distance in the exif. That is unless you have the EM1X which seems to not, probably my biggest complaint about the X.

You have needed to stop down to around f12 to get an inch DoF, which would still not really be enough for the entire bird.
 

John King

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Apr 20, 2020
Messages
2,692
Location
Beaumaris, Melbourne, Australia
Real Name
John ...
In your original image, the bird's tail intersects the left hand border. Never good, unless deliberate for some specific reason.

Secondly, the body of the bird is so close to the LHS that it is 'cramped'.

Composition is important, as Ronnie (@Phocal) has already mentioned.

For a detailed text on this, see Harald Mante "The Photograph Composition and Colour Design".
 

Photon

Mu-43 Regular
Joined
Jan 31, 2012
Messages
87
Not sure what camera you are using but most of them will have the focus distance in the exif. That is unless you have the EM1X which seems to not, probably my biggest complaint about the X.

You have needed to stop down to around f12 to get an inch DoF, which would still not really be enough for the entire bird.

I am using the EM5 mkii. It may be there, but I did not see it in the lightroom information.
 

Phocal

Mu-43 Legend
Joined
Jan 3, 2014
Messages
6,028
Location
Mars
I am using the EM5 mkii. It may be there, but I did not see it in the lightroom information.

It will not be in Lightroom, wish it would be. In Photoshop you can go to File/File Info and click on RAW Data. Use the search to search for focus and it will take you to something like <aux:ApproximateFocusDistance>122/100</aux:ApproximateFocusDistance> In this case you would divide 122 by 100 and the answer is in meters, which would be 1.22 meters.

Or you can use a little program called exif tools

Or if you export with full exif and upload to Flickr you can click on all exif information when viewing the photo and find the focus distance in meters in the exif.
 

John King

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Apr 20, 2020
Messages
2,692
Location
Beaumaris, Melbourne, Australia
Real Name
John ...
It will not be in Lightroom, wish it would be. In Photoshop you can go to File/File Info and click on RAW Data. Use the search to search for focus and it will take you to something like <aux:ApproximateFocusDistance>122/100</aux:ApproximateFocusDistance> In this case you would divide 122 by 100 and the answer is in meters, which would be 1.22 meters.

Or you can use a little program called exif tools

Or if you export with full exif and upload to Flickr you can click on all exif information when viewing the photo and find the focus distance in meters in the exif.
It is available in Adobe Bridge (free download from Adobe) in the metadata panel. Can't remember what it is called specifically, I'll boot my PC and look.

Just checked. Bridge no longer shows this in the 2020 CC version! Bloody Adobe ...

However, PIE Studio does. It's an extremely useful program suite, at nominal cost. Basically, a full graphical UI to Phil Harvey's wonderful EXIFTool, with useful printing tools that were worth the extra to me.
 

Latest posts

Links on this page may be to our affiliates. Sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
Mu-43 is a fan site and not associated with Olympus, Panasonic, or other manufacturers mentioned on this site.
Forum post reactions by Twemoji: https://github.com/twitter/twemoji
Forum GIFs powered by GIPHY: https://giphy.com/
Copyright © Amin Forums, LLC
Top Bottom