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My Failed Shot

My Failed Shot
Photo Information
Copyright: Billy C Banks (K9madtex) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 122 W: 67 N: 278] (1022)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2008-02-08
Categories: Birds
Camera: Canon 5D, Canon 70 - 200 f2.8L IS USM, Canon 72mm UV Haze
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2008-02-10 13:07
Viewed: 4196
Favorites: 2 [view]
Points: 30
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Welcome to my failed shot. I got this at San Angelo State Park when the Red Wing Black Birds were so thick they entirely covered the crown of three trees. They would fly down to the ground for a while and then all a sudden take off all together. I tried a few times to catch them in flight, but mostly I missed them altogether. I would have liked to have had a few of them in focus and a fast enough shutter speed to stop the wings. I do credit the slow shutter speed with giving more red due to the blur than there would be with a faster shutter speed. I did try to increase the shutter to 200 but the shots came out dark. I would appreciate any tips on how to get in focus birds with their action stopped.

Camera Model Name
Canon EOS 5D
Shooting Date/Time
2/8/2008 05:11:34
Tv(Shutter Speed)
Av(Aperture Value)
Metering Modes
Evaluative metering
Exposure Compensation
ISO Speed
EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM +2.0x
Focal Length
140.0 mm
Image size
4368 x 2912
Image Quality
White Balance
AF mode
AI focus AF
Picture Style
Tone Curve :Standard
Sharpness level : -
Pattern Sharpness : -
Contrast : 0
Sharpness : 3
Color saturation : 0
Color tone : 0
Drive Mode
Continuous shooting

JPlumb, Jamesp, eqshannon, earthtraveler, rcrick, NinaM, bobcat08, SueThomson has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To JPlumb: ThanksK9madtex 2 02-10 19:45
To eqshannon: ThanksK9madtex 1 02-10 18:17
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Critiques [Translate]

Hi Billy, it's not a failed shot, it's a lesson. The potential in this shot is just amazing. If this is something you might be able to try again once you get everybodies tips, then you've just gotta do it. The problem you have of course is speed. Everything else takes a back seat in a shot like this. And it's not just the birds speed you need to worry about, at 1/80, shooting with a 70-200 and a doubler, you may see some camera shake anyway.

I don't know your equipment but I have seen shots from Canons and it seems to me you should be able to set your ISO level up to 800 without any extra appreciable noise being seen, so do that. Just doing this would allow you to change to an equivalent speed of 1/640 (100x2x2x2=800 - 1/80/2/2/2 = 1/640).

You used a doubler on your lens which essentially locks in your aperture to f5.6, yet you shot at 140 mm. If you don't use the doubler here, and move your aperture down to f4 then you can now increase your speed again, to 1/1280, if you continue with the path started above.

A final step would be to shoot a little underexposed to gain even more speed, and bring back the light through post processing.

What you want is a balance, with speed being #1. With everything I'm looking at I expect you might be able to set your speed at 1/700 - 1/1000, and aperture at maybe a mid range of 4.8 or so, then adjust your ISO to finish off the balance.

Hope this helps, and good luck, John

  • Great 
  • Jamesp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
  • [2008-02-10 14:13]

Hi Billy

About 15 years ago the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition was won by a similar shot of Macaws at a Peruvian Amazon saltick - excellent impressionistic shot.


If you call that a failed shot again...I am going to have to slap you! that is a wonderful image...You see...the motion is the name of this game in the image...Not only is it not failed...it excels! Period. Edn of story!

Hi Billy,
Failed image or not John gave you good advise. Simply put think higher ISO when you need faster shutter. If you can use IS0 800 that would be a help. The black and red is pretty in itself knowing it is birds in flight. Keep working at it and satisfy yourself. TFS, Richard

Hey Billy,
Less of the (-) talk its a great shot, relly good advise for JPlum, and as Jamesp mentioned I seen so many award wining shots like this, superb detail, excellent sense of movement in this group of Red Wing Black Birds, love the colours and the back lighting, Cheers Rick :)

Hello Billy,
You seem to be a Texan, my guess anyway, so if you were out shooting pheasants you would follow through with your pan of the shotgun once you shot, correct? The same rule applies when taking moving objects such as these Red Wing Blackbirds, as you are focusing and press the shutter do not stop the motion of following the subject, but adjust your pan to the subject's speed and follow through once you push the shutter release. This will allow you to have a focused subject and an out of focus background. After a few attempts you will catch on, also, the closer you are to the subject, the faster the pan. Ducks are notorious to fly by you at tremendous speeds, but the fun of photographing flying birds is the final image showing a stilled bird in flight.
Good Luck,

  • Great 
  • PaulH Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1137 W: 26 N: 3879] (13882)
  • [2008-02-11 5:52]

Hi Billy,
failed?? are you serious? This is great! Those flashes of red and all that movement and blurred action...really makes this an usual shot thats great to look at! The static, pin sharp setting really adds to the effect in my opinion. Ok, it myabe wasn't what you were after, but it's very effective. Trying cranking up the ISO number until you start to get results..keep at it though1

Hello Billy
There always seems to be a thought that a shot should be as sharp as a razor...Every detail perfect..I reckon its all a load of crud!!...Im not really into art statements but this to me is a top pic..not art..just good..showing real good movement and colour..Its a great shot Billy and a great Post.
Tfs this one
best Regards

Amd if you want sharp John has given some great advise there!!

  • Great 
  • demeve Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 586 W: 12 N: 1682] (6165)
  • [2008-02-11 16:46]

Hello Billy,
I'm sorry my friend today I don't have much
time, so I'm justing marking today..
But I'll be back tomorrow..


  • Great 
  • NinaM Gold Star Critiquer [C: 773 W: 3 N: 1157] (4077)
  • [2008-02-12 18:18]

I fell in love with your picture before I read the text... to my surprise! Isn't it funny that sometimes we are unsure of ourselves and then people say: Hey, it's great. The colourful patches of red of the black birds are fantastic, giving lot of life and movement in the image. We don't know at first if they are butterflies, flowers... no, no, it's a bird! The background is perfect for this kind of shot, I will experiment more with movement, I really like it in a picture, often more than a sharp picture. I love the background with the rock wall. Thank you Billy, real nice work here,


This isn't a bad shot. You have a tendency not to think outside the box. I bet you didn't even notice the two sentry birds sitting stockstill in the tree amongst the chaos of their flockmates exodus. To me, THAT is the art in the picture. It's all just a matter of what each individual sees from his/her point of view that makes art and beauty.

Hello Billy,

Failed?? These are your words. Are you serious? This is great. When I saw the thumbnail I think Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm..thats a big faillure. But when I see the original. Perfect. What a composition. Take for instance a look to every separate bird. Every bird is different. I find this photo very artistic impression. Chapeau my friend and thanks that you have had the courage to take the photograph on TN. Greetings and TFS BOB

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2008-02-26 20:34]

Hello Billy

This is a great pan of these birds.
The red patches on their wings are beautiful.
A very good POV and DOF.


Hi Billy. I agree with the others that say that this is a great shot. Regardless what you think, I would be entering it is some photo contests. You will be surprised. Everyone, at one time or another, makes a little "mistake" and comes up with a great result. Live with it. You do great work. Your buddy, Bob Z.

Thanks for sharing this image. I appreciate the discussion and comments and i agree...it is a fine shot which in my opinion, has got more impact than one that is 'perfect technically'.

I don't know if I'd call this a failed shot. It looks really good to me. Alfred Hitchcock would be proud. Well done! The blurred wings give it a really nice look and all the colours in the picture are soft. Great! TFS Trevor

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