Continuing my bird retrospective series we have this image of a Blue Gray Tanager. I actually made this image a few months before I shot the the Boreal Owl I featured yesterday. This image was made with a Canon 20D and 70-200 f2.8L lens in Panama City, Panama.
I made the image from the balcony of a small hotel atop one of the hills that dot the landscape of Panama City. Each morning the staff put out leftover fruit which attracted a surprisingly diverse array of birds. For the couple of mornings we spent at the place, I saw dozens of these lovely Blue-Gray Tanagers, Palm Tanagers, Silver-beaked Tanagers, Ruddy Ground-doves, Squirrel Cuckoos, Barred Antshrike, and even a Yellow-headed Caracara that came in for bacon scraps.
This image has some positive aspects. I like the bird’s location on the very slightly angled vertical perch and the placement of the bird in the frame. Additionally, the colors work well. There are deep greens of the foliage in the background which go nicely with the sky-blue of the bird itself. But there are some problems. First and foremost, the image is not tack-sharp. While it is fine for small prints, anything larger than about 11×14 will start to show substantial softness in the bird’s plumage. (Despite this, I have sold the image at least once, through a stock agency, for publication in a text book.) I wish I had been more patient and waited for a better pose. The bird is slightly facing away from the camera and this lessens the impact. Lastly, though I shot this image wide-open at f2.8, the background foliage was close enough to the bird that it retains distinct shapes which I find distracting, causing my eye to wander around the image.
The final verdict? It’s a decent illustration, but lacks the visual punch and critical sharpness to rank among my favorites.
(If you think differently and would like a copy as a print or digital download you can purchase it here.)