The Search for that Perfect image..and some sponging

I've heard these statement many times as I'm sure many of you have as well if your into wildlife photography..."You're going to photography eagles(any subject) again? Don't you have enough pictures of them? I have heard this so many times from photographers and mainly non photographers...

For me there are many reasons each year I photograph pretty much the same subjects over and I can't afford to travel after spending so much money on so I have to photograph the subjects that are native or migrate to my province. That reason aside my main reason is the search for the perfect image. Now that image varies from person to person but I think deep down photographers have the desire and motivation to try and capture what they feel is the perfect image..sad thing about this is we are all cursed and will never be fully happy with our images so this "perfect image" will probably never be achieved..but we try.

So with this said I headed out to Cape Spear this past Saturday to once again photograph the Purple Sandpipers. For me to achieve a perfect image there are a list of things that I need to have checked off..

1. Nice clean background with colors that complement the subject.

2. Obviously nice harsh shadows on the subject or in the BG

3. Subject posed to the side parallel to the viewer to see the full subject with head turned to the viewer.

4. Obviously tack sharp from front to back.

5. Catch light in the eye.

6. Visible feet(in many cases harder then you think which I have found with the Purple Sandpipers)

7. Proper exposure

Now this is for a static pose. There are many other "Perfect Images"..action shots, inflight, etc...but the above is what I look for in a "Perfect image"

So lets look at some of the images from Saturday. The Purples were moving around alot on Saturday as their were decent size waves forcing them to move about to find food or a safe place to rest. This provided a great opportunity to photography them in different lighting and background settings. 

One of the first images captured which I liked was this one

This image hit most of the check marks but one important feature was missing...the feet. It doesn't ruin the image but it does make me wish they were visible making it less then perfect.

On to the next

So a little better..this time we have the feet or at least one showing. For me the background doesn't do it for me. Its nice and colorful which isn't  easy to find down on the rocks at the Cape but its a little busy for me. 

Ok Ok lets try another one and see if this will fit the checklist.

Both feet, clean background, sharp from head to tail, catch light..this pretty well cuts it but..

I prefer this shot. The sandpiper's body is turned just right and so is the head. There are no harsh shadows and the background color is interesting and very clean. This would be a pretty well perfect static image of a Purple Sandpiper for me :)

So regardless of what people might say keep photographing your favorite species..continue your search for that perfect image...and I hope one day you find it :)

Before I go I wanted to share with you a little tool I discovered in my research of landscape photography. The tool is called the Sponge Tool and is found in Photoshop. I'm not sure if its part of all versions of photoshop but it is in CS6 and CC. The tool in found in the toolbar on the left side of your window in Photoshop under the Dodge and Burn tool


Once you have selected the tool make sure its set to Saturate in the top menu, put your Opacity at around 10% and make sure vibrance is checked on. 

Now paint any parts of your image that you want the saturation to pop. With the images above I painted slightly over the iridescent color in the birds feathers to give it just a little pop. Not much but the camera doesn't always capture the way out eye see it so I give it a little pop. Try it out and it just might be another tool in your tool kit :)