View Full Version : "When Good Shots Go Bad"

Norm in Fujino
08-26-2006, 09:43 PM
Late afternoon walk on the mountain today. . .

1. Saw this Spangle (I think) flying around looking for a place to land for the night; I waited about 10 minutes and sure enough it landed. So I sneaked up on it and caught it with the Oly 50-200mm and FL-50 (flash). Well, it's a pretty bedraggled Spangle to begin with, and then, the shot is hand-held after a long mountain walk, so I'm a bit jittery and introduce a bit of camera shake, but worst of all, I used ESP exposure with the flash; the shutter fixed at 1/160, but the aperture was 3.3, so while I focused on the center of the back, the bottom part is oof. I should've used M with 1/160, f5.6, and let the flash pick up the slack.

2. I walked another 100 meters and was startled to see this guy beside the path. I took a couple of shots with the 50-200, but based on the previous photo of the butterfly, I knew I was jittery, so I switched to the 50mm macro, but this time, I used S-priority at 1/160; unfortunately, in my haste I neglected to check the f stop, which got fixed at f2.0, even with the flash. Focusing on the head, the back (probably no more than 0.5mm closer), is oof. Again, I should've used M with 1/160 and f4-5.6, and let the flash do its job. (--at worst, I should've made sure I was focused on the back rather than the head, since the back was the closest part of the body to the camera, resulting in more hyperfocal dof).

3. Finally, I walked out into the field above my house and saw two dragonflies roosting for the night. I caught this guy all right with the 50-200, but once more, I used S-priority, so the E-300 chose an f-stop of only f3.0, and while the center of the back (my focus point) is in focus, the tail and wing tips are oof. . .


Moral: 1. I should've had my tripod with me, to allow me to use A priority without worrying about camera-shake.
2. Without a tripod, I should've used M with maximum shutter speed and appropriate f-stop to gain the necessary dof. :mad:

08-30-2006, 11:18 PM

Oh my gosh. While I think it's great that you're always thinking of ways that your shots could have been better, you're being far too hard on yourself. I think your pics are fantastic. My insect macros almost never turn out that well.


Norm in Fujino
09-01-2006, 03:21 AM
Thanks for the cheering up, Steph, but the reason I posted as I did is because I often critique other people's photographs for the same kind of faults. I ask myself, "would that make a decent print to hang on the wall?" and in the case of these (with the possible exception of the dragonfly), the answer is "no." Besides the oof problem with the butterfly, it's simply bedraggled and not very attractive, and while the spider looks passable at this screen size, in a larger print the oof is simply too bad to even think about printing; here's a 100% crop (no pp after raw developing except one pass of usm after resizing):


And even the dragonfly suffers when you look at it up close: here's a 100% crop from the tail, showing both oof and camera shake (no pp after raw developing except one pass of usm after resizing):


The point is, if we're in the game to improve and produce the best results possible, shots like my three above just don't cut the mustard. I'd never be able to display prints of these, but they do remind me of what to do to make them better next time (tripod, tripod, tripod! -- and aperture priority to save the dof).

BTW, you have some very nice photos on your site. I love the BC area.

Bill Markwick
09-01-2006, 12:36 PM
Right on, Norm. I've filled a hard drive with almost-but-not-quite shots. Maybe we should have a new forum: the "If Only..." gallery. "If only I'd stopped it down more!" and so on.


Norm in Fujino
09-01-2006, 11:28 PM
: the "If Only..." gallery. "If only I'd stopped it down more!" and so on.

Right. I vaguely remember Michael Reichmann over on Luminous Landscape (I think) talking about seeing the contact prints of rolls of film made by Alfred Steiglitz and saying that 90% were total disasters.