I wasn’t sure about posting this photo. On the one hand, it’s a perfectly acceptable image of a bird in the winter, complete with snow flurries falling across the frame. It’s fine, right? Well, for the most part, sure. But looking at this image makes me think of the shot that could have been which, I am somewhat loath to admit, is a sentiment that creeps into my mind a bit too often. I suppose that’s probably not entirely uncommon for many photographers, but still, I try to look at my not-quite-great shots as more of learning opportunities than regrets and as such that is the angle with which I am attempting to approach this one. I mean, even if the image doesn’t hold up under strict scrutiny, it was a fun shot to take and one that is rather unique in my portfolio :)
I shot this while looking through the window of an Airbnb in the middle of Missouri on a chilly December morning just a few days before Christmas. It was one of the coldest and snowiest days of the season so far, and my wife and I were planning our day and when to go visit her mom and stepdad while our boys played Wind Waker HD on the Nintendo that came with the place. As we talked she paused and motioned for me to get my camera and look out the window, and I was shocked to see a few birds just hanging out and minding their own business, feathers fluffed and eyes alert, as the snow fell all around. I only had my D750 and 105mm macro lens (I mean, I also had my Fuji X100F but that was not suited for this kind of photo at all) but like any good photographer I just tried to make the most of what I had at my disposal. I took several shots of the birds and while most of them were obscured by leaves or branches, this one actually turned out pretty well.
The issue I have with this picture is…well, I kind of cheated. I mean, not really, but here’s the thing: This shot is cropped way, way down from the original which meant it was a little fuzzy and low-resolution. To compensate I used the Enhance feature in Lightroom to essentially create an artificially-rendered image that generated details where none existed. The result is an image that looks fine, but makes me wonder what I could have gotten if I brought my 70-200 f/2.8 instead of the macro lens. I mean, it’s not like this is some kind of AI-generated fake image or anything like that. It did get a bit of a computational boost though, and I suppose as long as I’m being upfront about that then I can sleep well enough at night :)