Can You Spot the Mistake?

At first glance this image looks pretty much spotless and to very much to my liking.  The subject, a male Common Redpoll, is very photogenic and offered a cute pose.  The perch is the right size with good colours.  The background is clean.  The composition is well balanced.  There is, however, a pretty significant mistake here…one that makes the image fit for the delete bin if you can believe that.

Take a quick peek at the image, and feel free to leave a reply with what you think is wrong with the picture.  You can click on the image for a larger, more detailed version if you need the extra resolution to study the image.  I will reveal my answer in a day or two.  Have fun!

Common RedpollCommon Redpoll, male, Canon 7DII + 500mm f/4 II + 1.4TC, manual exposure, evaluative metering, 1/500s., f/5.6, ISO 1600.


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  1. Terry Lee April 16, 2016 at 1:30 pm #

    Not sure I’m qualified to critique, but my thought would be that the depth of field is too shallow leaving the tail blurred. The beak also appears soft. Maybe a smaller aperture setting would have helped keep it sharp front to back.

    • Daniel Cadieux April 17, 2016 at 12:13 pm #

      Perhaps, but that is not it. Except for tight portraits I almost always shoot wide-open, focus on the eye, and let the dof fall wherever it does 🙂

  2. Alwin April 16, 2016 at 2:14 pm #

    I would prefer the branch’s end to be in the picture since it looks like it looks like it is just around the corner :P. The blurred tail is only a problem if the bird is facing away from the photographer I would say.

    • Daniel Cadieux April 17, 2016 at 12:15 pm #

      Hey Alwin, thanks for participating! In a perfect world, and with a smaller leaf, that would be great…but that is not it. I’ve composed the image carefully to make sure the branch is squarely cut rather than lightly clipped. There is something subtle but important that makes this image a “delete”…

  3. Tammy April 16, 2016 at 2:46 pm #

    My guess is that the focus is not on the bird’s face. An image like this, focus should definitely be right on the eyes, keeping the beak sharp too. That’s my two cents. But I do agree about the cropped brach on the right. But that’s not an error, that is just a critique and personal preference really.

    • Daniel Cadieux April 17, 2016 at 12:16 pm #

      Hi Tammy, glad you’ve chimed in! The focus is squarely on the eye, so that is not it. There is something else that really really bothers me about the image and makes it worthy of the trash bin 🙂

      • Tammy April 18, 2016 at 4:00 pm #

        Is it the positioning of his right foot? Kind of looks like it’s floating.

        • Daniel Cadieux April 18, 2016 at 4:32 pm #

          He he, although I’d rather have that whole foot showing, I am OK with it…enough to not delete the image for that.

  4. P-A. Fortin April 16, 2016 at 5:47 pm #

    High-res version does not show up here. Cannot click on the image.

    I have 3 points where I see possible improvement on the image:

    – Having the full branch on the right
    – More DOF to have the entire branch in focus
    – Getting rid of the notch/twig (whatever it is called in English) in front of the bird’s foot

    That being said, nothing here that spells “trashcan” to me 🙂

    • Daniel Cadieux April 17, 2016 at 12:18 pm #

      All potentially good points, but none of those bother me at all. The answer will surprise and also be a good lesson for setups…and you may even agree with it goes in the trashcan once you find out 🙂

      • P-A. Fortin April 18, 2016 at 12:28 pm #

        Well, now knowing that this is a setup, I would have tried to setup the perch in a way that the greens would be roughly on the same plane as the sensor, thus in focus, rather than horizontal as it currently is. But yet again, nothing worthy of the electric chair 🙂

        • Daniel Cadieux April 18, 2016 at 4:29 pm #

          No, not that! But you are getting quite hotter…..

  5. Ross Taylor April 17, 2016 at 1:15 pm #

    Hi Daniel, I quite like the cedar as a perch, but the green parts intersecting the bird underneath make the image less than ideal for me.

    • Daniel Cadieux April 17, 2016 at 7:08 pm #

      Hey Ross, I see what you mean…but I can live with it. Hmm, what could it be that makes me not like the image so much?? 🙂

  6. William Dickson April 18, 2016 at 4:20 pm #

    Hi Daniel, my first visit to your blog, and I must say its looking good, I think I may be back 🙂

    Onto your image. Is it the unnatural looking perch,, because it is upside down? Do we see the underneath of the leaves showing upwards?

    • Daniel Cadieux April 18, 2016 at 7:16 pm #

      Hey William, nice to see you here!! Excellent guess. Check out the answer revealed in the next blog post :-). Oh, and please do come again!

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