Black-footed Albatross, Midway Atoll

In recent blog posts, I’ve displayed images of Laysan Albatrosses which I observed and photographed on the island of Kaua’i and also Midway. The Laysans were the only albatross species I sighted on Kaua’i and were the most numerous species on Midway. However, there were other species on Midway, including the Black-Footed Albatross. These two species, although obviously different in appearance, are similar in behaviour and life cycle and they tolerate each other very well. Indeed there have been instances of interbreeding between the two species. Today’s image was taken late in the afternoon and, thankfully, required very little by way of post-processing.

Black Footed Albatross on nest, Midway Atoll

Canon 5D Mark 2, 500mm lens at F11, shutter speed 1/500 second at ISO 400.

The Importance of Editing.

The main issue for me in presenting this image was choosing which one to process and post.   I took a sequence of about 7 shots of this bird as it opened its bill wide,  each image being slightly different from the next.  I’ve presented the gallery of 7 shots below just to illustrate the point about carefully editing your photos.    The 5D Mark 2 isn’t the fastest camera on the market by a long shot with a burst mode rate of just under 4 frames per second,  compared to some other DSLRs now on the market which will blaze away at 10 or even 14 frames per second.   So what you see here was a burst of just under 2 seconds.

Some subtle changes can occur in 2 seconds even with a bird that is quite contentedly sitting on a nest like this one.    A little gust of wind and the bird’s feathers ruffle up slightly.   A slight movement of its head angle in relation to the camera can result in a less pleasing image.    As the bird continued to stretch its bill open,  it pushed its head forward giving a different angle to the neck.   Finally,  I wanted that catch light in the eye,  this changed as the birds head position changed.

1st in sequence
2nd in sequence
3rd in sequence
4th in sequence, Black Footed Albatross on nest, Midway Atoll
5th in sequence
6th in sequence
7th in sequence

In the end, I chose the 4th frame in the sequence.   I liked the fully open bill,  the bird appears animated,  the feathers are nicely fluffed up and the neck position is to my liking as well (compare it to frame 6 where to my mind the neck position looks as though the bird is trying to cough up something nasty!).    All these points of course are subjective,  but there’s no value in publishing all the photos you take,  particularly where the changes from frame to frame are so subtle.

One of the things that I’ve learnt (and marvelled at) from watching the pros at work over recent years,  is the speed with which they will go through their images and ruthlessly edit and discard anything that doesn’t clearly satisfy their standards.   At the end of a day’s shooting,  briefly glance at the image on the laptop screen,  “is it a killer image/portfolio grade image?”  No?   Discard it!   It’s a difficult discipline to master and I must admit,  I’m still trying to get there.

The Blog’s Progress.

As I’ve pointed out recently,  and what should be obvious to returning visitors,  is that I’ve upgraded the website and blog considerably and it continues to develop.   I’m currently adding to existing image galleries and developing new ones each week.    This image is part of my Midway Atoll gallery,  click through,  you’ll find heaps of stuff to look at.   🙂

As always,  I value any thoughts you may have on what I’m presenting so,  feel free to leave a comment.     ~KD

Chip “Roket Man” Allen says: 19 November, 2011 at 7:55 am

Just catching up after serving as a two-legged lab rat for the doctors, KD. Really enjoyed the gallery this image is linked to and you be sure I’ll be spending time browsing the others.

Reply KD says: 20 November, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Thanks for the visit and comment Chip. Hope things are on the improve on the medical front.

Carrie says: 2 December, 2011 at 6:40 am

I think that is a great point of the subject. So many people post like 5 or 6 shots of nearly the same thing and some of the shots aren’t even any good. I wish they would only pick what they think is the best and show it. But I also know the problem when you can’t pick which one is the best as they all have some feature you like. I can go pretty fast now narrowing my shots down and deleting those I don’t want. But occasionally you get a few of the same thing and just can’t decide. Like your shots here they are all great but which one would you want to post. Here the toss would have been #1 or #4. Anyway a great point to bring up.