This is the worst image I have ever posted on my blog and typically any image I have taken resulting in such poor quality would have been deleted as soon as I previewed it on my computer monitor. I kept this file though because it is a reminder to myself to always be prepared. I missed a great behavior shot because I wasn’t.
The lighting conditions were awful the day I took this photo, there were clouds, low light, falling snow and fog even before getting to Farmington Bay so I set my ISO high to obtain adequate shutter speeds, which I had when I took this image. I didn’t screw up there.
On my Nikon D810 I have the option of having my camera automatically reset the exposure compensation back to 0 after I take my finger off of the shutter button for a short period of time. Doing that has worked great for me since I started using the D810 because when I pick the camera up to photograph a subject I always know where the EV is and can quickly assess the light and setting and make adjustments to the exposure compensation quickly on the fly.
When I saw this Red-tailed Hawk being pursued by the American Kestrel in an aerial dogfight I simply didn’t have enough time to make adjustments because they flew in so quickly that there wasn’t time to change a single setting before raised my lens & camera to photograph them and I know without a doubt that I would have increased my exposure for the lighting conditions that were present that day.
I brought the exposure up on this frame by 1.35 in Photoshop to show the talons of the small, feisty kestrel grabbing the head of the much larger and probably thoroughly annoyed red-tailed hawk.
I really wanted to cry when I saw that I had captured the intense defensive behavior of the kestrel and that I had missed creating a quality image because I wasn’t prepared. I’ve been kicking my rear end for not getting this shot for nearly two months now. It isn’t every day that I have the opportunity to photograph an American Kestrel attacking a Red-tailed Hawk in the air, in fact this would have been my best opportunity. Ever.
If only I hadn’t messed up.
Life is good.
See this addition for more information on why this shot was messed up:
I wish I would have mentioned the softness and the reasons for it when I wrote my post but I was rushing to get it done before going out shooting this morning.
I think if I had used +1.3 EV the exposure would have been better and if I would have had just a bit more time to focus on the birds that would have helped to, it is a challenge to photograph with low light, fog and falling snow, even though I have a lens that focuses fast it struggled that morning due to the conditions. I am also not sure the vehicle I was shooting from had completely stopped when I took this image. This all happened so quick though, I just didn’t have time to be better prepared.
Also, by increasing the exposure in post processing I have caused noise to appear which reduces the quality of this image that wouldn’t have been there had I used a better exposure.
Side note: Yesterday evening I was working on moving images from my old gallery to my new photo galleries and I messed up by opening the new post page for my blog instead of the new post page for the photo galleries and published an image of a tiny American Oystercatcher chick in my blog by accident. Many of my subscribers got the email for a new post and I apologize because I removed that post almost immediately. If you would like to see the image of the tiny American Oystercatcher chick please click here.