African Darter again.

This post continues the theme of following some suggestions made by readers of my blog.  One commentator thought that the image of the African Darter drying its wings in my post Botswana – Day 4 (Part 5) might have been good in a square crop.

My original crop was based on the common advice that you should generally allow a subject space to look into the frame, rather than out of it.  I’ve found that competition judges nearly always apply this ‘rule’.

African Darter

Anyway, I have given it a go, following Adrian’s advice and here is the result.  The bird now fills the frame well and the wings provide a sort of element of symmetry.  Yes, I think it does work, though I’m still not sure which I prefer.

African Darter (Square)

The original photo was entered in a Club Competition a while ago, and one fault that the judge pointed out was the lack of sharpness across the whole bird.  When I took the photo, my focus had inadvertently been on it’s back rather than it’s head and consequently the bird’s bill had not been pin sharp.  I think the extra contrast achieved with the B&W image below may go a little way towards alleviating that particular problem.

African Darter B&W (Square)

Does anyone agree?

Thanks for looking and any comments are welcomed.


12 thoughts on “African Darter again.

  1. I like the square crop as well. As for comparing the color and b&w versions, I tend to agree – the greater contrast in the black and white loses detail in the darker areas of the darter’s back. I wonder if selectively darkening the background would make the bird’s head and beak pop more – and give the impression of greater clarity there. Other than that, I’m glad the back is in focus, the detail in the back and wing feathers is outstanding.


  2. Hi Dave,
    There’re rules, many rules for art including Photography but all come to this conclusion:
    You are the artist and what ever your brain tells you to choose and like it will eventually become your own style or signature. Do it the way you like it best and stick to that. My opinion is that not everyone is Picasso or Ansel Adams. You are Dave. Your pictures are better than many I know.


  3. Dave, I agree very much with what avian101 >>> in the end, its >>>your choice – and as I’ve said a lot, we are all different – and that is of course where competition judges fall down – if you lose a competition, there may well be others in the audience who think you an outright winner.

    Here’s what I’d do with this picture. Stick with the colour version, the 2nd picture down. Move the left margin about half way from where it is now towards the bird – this loses some of the tail, but the tail is only partly visible anyway. Then I would subdue some of those browns in the photo’s top right hand corner, making them a bit duller or greyer would be fine – because they are getting towards the colour of the bird’s plumage and distract attention a bit away from it. Any use? Adrian


  4. Personally I prefer the color version – I’m not a huge fan of square crops for some reason.

    I do love the shot though. African Darters as well as the other species of Anhinga found throughout the world are rather unique in that their feathers don’t contain any oils that would make them waterproof. This makes them excellent divers since they are less positively buoyant and don’t immediately bob to the surface like a duck. Of course, this also means they get pretty soggy, so when you see them with their wings outstretched, they’re drying their feathers. They always make for great photography subjects!


    • Thanks again, for the additional information. I do like square crops, but mainly for subjects facing the camera. It was not my first edit choice for this shot, but it does seem to work.


  5. Nice to see you experimenting. I’m clueless about all this but it’s on “the list” to learn someday. You know, in all that spare retirement time- ha!ha! Life’s good though, isn’t it?


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