An Illustration of Why Bird Photography Is So Hard

Geese Photo by Scott Bourne

I like this photograph. I really like it. But it will probably never sell. That’s a problem for me since I earn income from my bird photography. It’s a very demanding genre. In bird photography, things have to be absolutely perfect to sell, because no matter how good my shot is, there is someone who has a slightly better shot.

Geese Photo by Scott Bourne

I envy bird photographers who do this strictly for fun. If I were in that camp (and who knows, maybe someday I will be) then this picture would be a winner for me. I love the background, the tack sharp focus on the lead bird, the perfect exposure and the action, amplified by two birds, not just one.


It’s not really perfect. It’s slightly off sun angle and the second bird isn’t COMPLETELY sharp. Acceptably sharp? Maybe. It’s like human portraiture. As long as the main subject is sharp it’s not a huge deal that the background bird is slightly out of focus. You’d have to look closely to note it.

And another but…

BUT — that is what editors do. They look closely. That’s their job.

So I’ll put this image in my favorites portfolio, because it is a nice moment and I like the symmetry of it as well as the memory. But that doesn’t mean it’s a salable shot. Who knows, maybe some day I’ll run into an editor who isn’t so strict about sun angle. ๐Ÿ™‚


Olympus OM-D E-M1 X, Olympus 300 f/4 IS Pro Lens. ISO 320 – f/5.6 – 1/2000th – handheld

P.S. I occasionally post my images that were unsuccessful for three reasons. One – to show that I am human and don’t always get it right. Two – in hopes that I or maybe even you can learn from my mistakes. Not sure about how much I will learn from my own mistakes, since I keep making them that is ๐Ÿ™‚ Three – because everyone likes to show their winners, and I want to be transparent about the fact that they all cannot be winners.ย 

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