Andy Westlake, Technical editor
Canon EOS M50, 70-300mm, 1/4sec at f/8, ISO 100 Every year, I take thousands of pictures testing photographic kit, and the best end up illustrating aspects of camera and lens performance in my reviews. As these sample pictures need to meet requirements for acceptable exposure and sharpness, my favourite picture of 2018 never made it into print. Because, quite simply, it’s a mistake.
I was in the park in March, enjoying the emergence of spring after the long, cold winter. I was using the then-new Canon EOS M50, and after shooting some landscapes with the camera configured to blur moving water, I switched to a telephoto zoom lens and trained it on the resident wildfowl. But for the first frame I neglected to update the settings, with aperture priority, f/8 and ISO 100 resulting in a ¼ sec shutter speed in the fading evening sunlight.
Realising my mistake, I switched to shutter priority to freeze motion, and shot a sequence of frames at 1/1000sec. This provided nicely sharp images, and one of the shots made it into my review of the EOS M50 (AP 14 April), to illustrate its very creditable image quality at ISO 8000.
Aesthetically, though, I liked this first frame the most. It may be heavily blurred, but crucially, the subject is still recognisable. To me, this unintentional blur reflects the speedy, busy character of mandarin ducks. Sometimes a mistake can give serendipitous results.