It isn’t a mistake limited to meadowlarks but I do it far more often with them than with any other species.
I had intended to post this Western Meadowlark image, taken yesterday on Antelope Island, as a standalone for today’s post because I was pretty happy with it. So I processed it (as you see here) and placed it into the appropriate folder for later retrieval into the post. But when I went back to look at it I noticed a glaring imperfection that I’d missed earlier. Do you see it?
I’ll give you a hint – it’s a mistake that regular readers know I really hate to make! Do you see it now?
I suspect some spotted it and others didn’t. Where’s the left foot of the bird? It isn’t there because I clipped it (cut it off). Usually when that happens it’s because I clipped it in the full frame image as taken in the field but here it’s because I inadvertently cropped it out during processing. Dumb!
If you need further proof here’s a heavily cropped version of this portion of the original image that allows us to see the left foot I cropped out. The red arrow points toward one of its claws that I’d cropped out and there’s another claw just above it and to the left. It was easy to miss because the lower part of the leg and the foot are camouflaged by the twigs so well.
1/5000, f/6.3, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in
Here’s what the image should have looked like if it had been cropped properly.
I clip meadowlark feet regularly, though usually I do it in the full frame image rather than during cropping. I think it’s because their legs, when extended, are longer than I expect them to be and their feet and parts of their legs are so often difficult to see on their typical twiggy perches.
Clipping body parts is considered to be highly undesirable when the photo is meant to be of the entire bird and that’s a lesson that was drilled into me years ago when I regularly posted images to Nature Photographers Network (NPN) for critique.
I posted this Barn Owl image to NPN about 9 years ago when I was a neophyte bird photographer. When I cropped that version of the image I thought the feathers marked by the white arrow were the furthest portion of the bird to the right so I cropped just a little further to the right to include them. I thought the structure marked with the red arrow was just something in the setting (other than the bird) so I cut off its tip in my crop. But NPN’ers dinged me for that (rightfully so) because that structure is actually the underside of the right wingtip.
There’s a lot of things to think about when we’re framing our subjects in the field and during cropping and we need to keep our wits about us and pay attention.
When we don’t we pay the price.
On an unrelated note, many readers are aware of the fine work of my friend and raptor authority Jerry Liquori. I (belatedly) learned yesterday that Jerry was one of three recipients of the 2017 American Birding Association Awards that were announced on March 2. Jerry’s knowledge of raptor identification, geographic variation, age-related plumage progression and molt is unmatched and he freely shares that knowledge with others. Huge congratulations to Jerry for the well-deserved recognition!
Here’s a link to the awards announcement if you’re interested.