Return of the Shrike

Frankly, this shrike is driving me potty. Call me demanding if you will but it has not yet performed in good light. It has not yet let me get within 30 feet and it has not yet sung I’m a yankee doodle dandy. C’mon shrike…….. give me a break. I may be willing to compromise on the last one but the first two are non-negotiable.

Let there be light, I shouted. I am still waiting.

I rattled off a few more frames today but could not get decent backgrounds. Any attempt to approach closer than about 30′ was greeted with a short flight. I would then retreat and the shrike would return to its perch. Basically it was taking the Michael. Poor light mean slow shutter speeds or image noise (think film grain) or a bit of both. I did a bit of my own mixing to see which ISO and shutter speed combination worked best. Answer: none of them.

A forward looking shrike.

Close-up Watching the Black Kite fly overhead.Eyes-upPeering over the hedge at the daft photographer.Shrike-necky

It has been suggested – shock horror – that I am expecting too much to hit the photography jackpot each time I go out. Fair comment and I understand the vagaries of nature. But, as CJ famously said, I didn’t get where I am today by not being unreasonable. Or something like that. I am afraid that it is becoming like a drug. I need my fix of sharp focus, clean background and gorgeous light. It is not a lot to ask for, is it? I mean, why else did I retire?

Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away. I was happy that one of my wagtail photos had been chosen on a photography forum as ‘Photo of the Day’.  Terrific, I thought. So I posted another couple of images. Both nice but one was an image of which I am quite proud. And I rarely admit that. But hey, I really like it. And I woke up in the morning to find I had won ‘Photo of the Day’ again. Fish and Barrels spring to mind. But no……… they chose the wrong one. Not a sausage for the Antarctic Prion but a big rosette for the egret. I am now thoroughly demoralised and both POTDs have been devalued in my eyes. How could they get it so wrong? And I discovered that POTD is a misnomer because there was another POTD yesterday. TWO in one day. So in fact not only did my Antarctic Prion not beat the egret it also didn’t beat the other winner. Now I am really hacked off.

Competitive? Me? Never. So rest assured I will be trying again tomorrow even if the observatory tells me that it will be same again on Thursday. At this rate I may even be tempted to go back to work. But not just yet.


15 thoughts on “Return of the Shrike

  1. Now you know why I never enter competitions. I am sure your unrecognized entry is outstanding…but you never know what a judge, assuming said judge has a recognizable criteria, will favor. I have seen some truly horrendous winners of contests and once heard a judge decide on a wretched image as a category winner because “we ought to have a waterfall image”.

    Personally I like all that you posted (each has a lot of personality) but I am no judge nor will I ever be. I do admire the bird on a stick done well and get quite excited when I get one, especially as I am no bird photographer of any accomplishment, but I thoroughly enjoy a bird well done in it’s environment which you have three nicely dones here. 🙂

    So keep on truckin’ my good man, but enjoy your successes even if they ain’t poifect. 🙂

  2. Thanks Steve. When I posted the original wagtail image I did not even know they picked a Photo of the Day. Perhaps I should also post a waterfall and claim the bird is behind the cascade. I actually like the shrike looking up here but I do want good light. Please!

  3. a wonderful rant at … everything. Andrew 😉 but still lovely and detailed photo’s nonetheless, those posers who just won’t take directions.. tsk!! Such is life methinks… xx

  4. Grumble, grumble. I think I wriote somewhere -must have been in a reply to somebody about my lack of equipment. But within that comment or reply I wriote that despite my lack of whatever it might be, I’ve accepted those limitations and work around them. So Andrew, are you working with or against your limitations or are you working aound them?

    However, as Steve has written, are you not being rather harsh with yourself? I’d be delighted if I got a POTD but I have no idea where POTD is hiding. So please clue me in so I can see these fine images.

    To finish off my semi-lecture here- There is nothing wrong with these shots. I think the light is just fine. Enhance the colors in Photoshop and put some of that Photoshop voodoo on these shots. Actaully I like the captures very much. And the main thing is that these captures make the bird look downright good. 🙂

    PS. I am one of only a few people that I’ve ever heard use the expression “hacked off.” It happens to be a good one and a favorite of mine.

    • No need to look for photo of the day, Yvonne as it has been posted on the blog but it is on Google Plus in the Bird Photography group.

      Of course you are right that we need to work with what we have. Here the kit is not the issue. The problem is the weather and I can shout and rant as much as Ilike it won’t change because of me. But that is my dark side, the quest for perfection. The bird is in good positions but just needs something to make it zing a little.

      • Going with Yvonne’s thought flow….if you have Nik’s ColorEfex you could try the reflector effects(?) to add some directional sweetness maybe. :-). I’ve only used it once and sparingly so it’s just an idle thought.

      • Thank Andrew. Primarily I was not meaning your euipment. I should have gone in depth to explain. I realize it is not the camera. But if you have Lightroom or whatever you editing means happens to be- perahps you can fix those pics to look more to your satisfaction. Of course months ago I figured that you are a perfectionist and that is a good thing. It is what has made you extremely successful. Of course it also conributes to extreme frustration for I have seen those things in myself and I fiinally let go of some of my quirks. 🙂

  5. Almost like three Shrikes and you are out. Ah, the search for perfection. And it doesn’t matter how much someone else tells us how ‘good’ our photo, painting, story…is, we know what we had wanted to achieve and thus (thus? how pompous) remain dissatisfied. But it is the dissatisfaction and ‘almost’ which drives us to go and do it all over again.
    However, we also need to appreciate what is good in what we have done – even if it’s not as good as we would like. We seek perfection; if we are lucky and disciplined, at best we achieve very good.
    Not that it matters, but I would be thrilled to have captured the three shrike photographs you have displayed. I rather like the sense of habitat and the alertness of the bird. They seem very natural to me. Thanks for sharing them.

    • Good sentiments, Rod. The images would be ok if it were not for the slow shutter speed and background noise. I do like habitat shots though. Perhaps I should have gone for the “deliberate blur” trick.

  6. Just Rod and ‘The Three Shrikes and you are out’ gets a big PMP from me. I love it, very funny! 😀

    I’m going to come clean here. I’ve become quite petrified of posting anything of late. Firstly, I know that my grammar, punctuation and command of the Inglish language is crap (my bf, my step-mother and my dad make it their duty to constantly remind me) Ms Rough wrote a very erudite post all about it. It wasn’t directed at me personally, I hope, but I knew whilst reading it that I ticked all the boxes for bad behaviour so that has got me in a bit of a fluster. Secondly, it’s jolly hard to keep pace with you super, smashin’ great photography boys. By that I mean your good self, Mr Gingold and Mr Rod. You all know your apertures from your overtures, your macros from your zooms. Frankly whatever pictures you all take all look simply stunning to me, in bad or good light.

    I think POTD in this house could be loosely translated as ……….

  7. I know what you mean by always wanting it all. You want good light, good background, good overall setting, good bird position….everything.
    I may have been guilty of such desires myself once or twice. It doesn’t seem to all come together near as often as it should does it? Yet we keep at it right? 🙂

    • It’s like golf, Phil. You play 17 bad holes and then on the 18th you rip one down the middle like Arnie or Jack. And that guarantees you come back again the next day. I’m trying to break 80 right now. But I’ll take off my sweater, grab the driver and put it on the fairway 300 yards away…………. next time.

  8. Don’t be too disheartened, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it’s the same in any competition.
    I’m sure there are plenty following your blog, who like me, think your photos are excellent. 🙂

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