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Friday, June 29, 2007

Overexposure & What Not to Do

Here are a series of images I took at the Wildlife Sanctuary. A pair of mated Trumpeter Swans in what I can only assume is a mating ritual. The problem with all of these is that whites on the backs of the swans are completely overexposed - so overexposed in fact, there is no way to salvage these.

So what happened? At the time these swans appeared I was busy shooting something else, something that was in a shaded area, so the ISO and shutter speed were set for the 'other' shots. Without really giving any thought to the camera settings, I swung around and started shooting this pair. In my excitement at what I was shooting, I lost all perspective on how I was shooting. Even after all this time, you can still make mistakes. Thankfully, this wasn't paid work - on this day I was out for fun.

Unfortunately, the shots are somewhat unusual in the fact that it captured something you don't often see, and had I been thinking enough to change the camera settings these would have been worth selling. As it is, they are not something I'd want to ask money for.

A smarter thing to do would have been to stop and change the settings, even if I missed the first shot - it is fairly ordinary - two swans on the lake is nothing special. That would have allowed me to capture the balance of the event with good, marketable images.

There were two other images in the series - both just white blobs, not even worth cropping to post here.

So maybe they don't look so bad at this size, but larger images are posted here so you can see the results - just click on the smaller ones to view them. You can see immediately just how bad the overexposure is.

Why am I sharing this with you? Well, it would seem obvious that I want to help others avoid this, but even though I know very well that you need to pay attention to what your shooting conditions are, I still made this mistake. My sharing it might help make you more aware of it, and it might even prevent it happening most of the time, but there will be times when you find something similar does happen.

What I really want to point out was that no matter how unusual a sight you capture, this type of image is not suitable for uploading to places like stock or microstock sites. So what if they may not have a single image like it - they are trying to maintain certain standards of quality in the images they sell, so don't do it. Don't even think it. Not only is it likely to get summarily rejected, you stand a very good chance of putting a large dent in your reputation as a photographer. What would you rather be known for - high quality imagery, or bad images of interesting events?

What you can do with stuff like this - keep it for yourself, to remind you of the events themselves, or as a reminder of what not to do again. Share them with friends when you tell stories about the event, but don't stick a 'for sale' sign on them.

Here is another typical image that sometimes people will try to upload - cute, but useless. Some baby geese - everyone loves them, everyone takes pictures of them - do an image search on google for baby geese or gosling and see what you come up with. This one was one of those "just had to do it" shots.

These babies were born at the Sanctuary this spring, but here they were on the OUTSIDE running alongside the roadway, with a couple of the adults trying frantically to heard them back through the fence. Adult geese will not leave their babies - until the babies can fly, the adults stay where they've nested.

Had I looked at these images before my next trip out to the Wildlife Sanctuary, I would have sent this to the trash bin - the impulse to take the image could not be squashed, even though I knew it would probably be what I call "a dumper". The reason I kept it after my most recent trip out to the Sanctuary is because all of these babies (every one) were eaten right out of the water by some larger snapping turtles (apparently abour 40lbs of turtle) that somehow found their way into the marsh. Along with these babies, two of the trumpeter swan's babies, and four of the mute swan's babies were taken. Currently the trumpeter's have three left, and the mute's have only 1. For me, this photo will remind me of that sad day, but that's all it's good for.

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