School Time

This… Is… A… Fish…

What technical feedback would you like if any?

For my tastes I nailed the DOF, exposure and framing. Gotta love telephoto zooms.

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

I’m more inclined to wildlife photos showing their lives and behavior than wildlife portraiture. I particularly like the way the tight crop and arrangement of the three subjects’ concentration lead my eye diagonally down through the frame to the salmon head. Does that work for you?

Any pertinent technical details:

Shot from about 40’ from the cab of our truck using a Nikon D7200 and Nikon 200-500.

Hi Hank!

I like the curiosity level in the picture and fish provides a good focus point, but there are two points I would like to suggest, one you can change if you have some more canvas and second you can’t:

  • If you have some more canvas on the RHS, you may include the whole cub with mother, it would also
    include the front two legs of the cub behind.
    -Secondly the exact focus point appears to be on the leg of mother bear rather than head of the mother.

That’s interesting and useful feedback, and certainly points I considered when picking among the burst of photos from which I selected this one. But compared to more open framing showing the whole cub in the background, and mom’s forepaw placed firmly on the ground, the fish head and point of the photo is virtually lost. For me, the image falls apart without that focus.

But I get only the first vote in selecting a photo, and all subsequent votes carry important weight.


Hey Hank, really nice to see you back on NPN. Haven’t heard from you in quite a while.
The suggestion from Jagdeep was interesting, because it was something I wondered about as I looked at this, but I can completely see your point. I think, for an Alaskan in particular, having that emphasis on the salmon is important, whereas for other people, that connection is not so important, and they would prefer to see the sharpness in a certain place, etc.
The only thing I could possible suggest would be a lower view, and that’s not something you could have changed (unless you have a low-rider pickup!!). The salmon head is small enough that it doesn’t stand out on its own, so it needs to have something pointing to it.
Like you, I like to have that environment and animal behavior, and that is what I like best about this image.

Hey Genny! Good to see you here, too.

Not only were we in a truck, but it was on a causeway about 5’ higher than the stream bank. But since salmon are such a huge part of the story, I’ll take it. Of course I’d love to have had a whole salmon rather than a head, and that too would have helped with the focus.

I have read the other comments and mixed feelings. I see your point about the focus on the fish and the image works ok the way it is. I to would like to see more of the cubs in the image. It seems that the focus of their stare would lead your eye through the image to find what they are staring at. Just a thought.

In fact I have a version with the whole cub, and for my eye and conditioning it loses “focus” on the fish.

Understand that our background is in selling photos that didn’t exist. We were hired at high rates to take photos because the clients couldn’t get what they needed from stock sources.

We were quickly disillusioned with the low prices and low income from stock photography. We needed to be making a living wage and building a comfortable retirement with our cameras, or hang them up and return to the lucrative careers we left. We could get paid more for a single hour of assignment or contract photography than was paid for most magazine covers. Meanwhile typical shoots ran on for hours or days at that high rate, PLUS we garnered licensing fees for the shots once we were through.

Making 10x or 20x the money had its influence on the way we shoot, and “art” photography was far down the list of priorities for us. In the kind of shooting we did “action” and layout were pivotal to the way photos were going to be used, and the “rules” guiding art photography often didn’t apply.

This is a prime example. When the point of the photo is the fish and the bears’ fixation on it, the artistic inclusion of a foot isn’t a priority if it comes at the price of the goal of the photo. I’m not trying to be argumentative, rather I guess what I’m saying is that there are other “yardsticks” than display prints for measuring success of photos. Our yardstick was income first, and it worked well for us.

Hi Hank. I too like the way the concentration and angles of the bears lead to the fish. I don’t have any problem with the crop on the right, because the bears are entering the frame. I do wish there were just a tad more space on the bottom and the left. To me, all that energy pointing to the lower left corner is running into a wall. This is, of course all a matter of taste, but that’s my two cents worth.

Thanks Dennis. I wondered a little about that, but reconciled it with the hopes that the “wall” would hold viewing eyes a little longer. Though I’m out of the business now, it would be interesting to compare notes with my favorite AD…

Come to think of it, one of us owes the other lunch and it’s been too long since we’ve laughed together. Thanks for the nudge, even if I’m the one shelling for lunch!