The average person can glance at a group of photos and quickly choose a favorite. But when the time comes for a photographer to judge their own work the process isn’t always so easy. Some unfortunate photographers fall victim to a condition called analysis paralysis and can spend a year or more sorting through a single group of images. But don’t worry, I can help you avoid this condition.
Take a look at this bald eagle sequence I made earlier this year and choose the best image of the series. Then read through my notes and compare them with your likes and dislikes. Don’t be afraid to share your opinion with a comment. This exercise should give you some ideas to improve your editing skills and help you make those important decisions with your own work.
The first thing I look for is a sharp eye, and is the first thing you should check for unless you are looking at a speed blur. Also look carefully for any trace of the nictitating membrane covering the eye. This is a semi transparent third eyelid that will ruin an image.
Notice that the bird is flying slightly towards the camera, this is the preferred angle. Pass on anything that is flying away even if only by a few degrees.
The biggest problem with the image is that the blue strip of water cuts right through the eagle’s wings.
The wing position is okay but the bird’s head and the wing merge unfortunately so this is a big negative. I would pass on this image.
The eye is sharp and membrane free and the head is no longer merging with the wing but there is something else that kills the image. The big killer for me is with the wing shape, the top half of the wing is folded down. I want to see a straight wing, the more vertical the better.
Notice that the shoreline is much lower in this frame and only cuts through the bird’s feet so it is not an issue as it was in the first image.
For this sequence I used Dynamic-area AF 51 point 3D tracking so I was able to concentrate on framing the bird without clipping any body parts and not having to worry about keeping the AF point on the bird’s head.
This image is an instant pass for me due to the classic pancake wing position. This will never work for me unless the bird is flying right at the camera.
People have the habit of thinking you have to delete every bad image before they can choose their best images. Instead of wasting time deleting images I recommend spending your time choosing your best work. The cost of external hard drives are so low there is no reason that you need to spend time clearing drive space after each time you shoot.
This image good overall and it really comes down to personal preference. Some people like this kind of image, personally I don’t care for the ‘M’ wing position so it would be a quick reject.
These images were made with of my favorite handheld flight lens of all time and my current lens to that I reach for than any other, the Sigma 50-500 OS. The lens is fast, sharp and gives you great reach.
This image is my first choice. The image is sharp and focus seems locked on the bird’s eye. The wing position is in a great V shape. The top and bottom edges are clean and clear and the bird fills more of the frame than the other images. Also the head is free and clear of the bird’s wings.
This was a simple choice, I would keep image 5 and forget definitely forget about the rest. Let me know what your favorite image is and what your issues are with the rest.
To find out about my workshops including my upcoming eagle workshops in 2011 and 2012 visit my site.
For any questions email me at Robert@RobertOToolePhotography.com