Ab­stract Man­darin

Amateur Photographer - - Our Favourite Images -

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.

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