Biggest Fails of 2012

December 31, 2012

I thought I post something different today. I always post very clean and perfect images, so I thought I post some images of the ones that got away… VERY frustrating every time it happens, but I am sure most people have stories and images like that.

First of all, an image from May, taken on the remote Cape York Peninsula in Queensland. After getting some great portrait images of the Golden-shouldered Parrots, I decided to go all in on my last morning and tried to capture a male in flight. The birds fly to the nest only once every morning and always came from different directions, so I had no chance to take a test shot or to adjust. It was a gamble, because I would not have a chance to get another image that morning, because the birds quickly hide in the nest after landing.

After waiting for a about 2 hours, the birds finally came in. The landed on a nearby tree and I waited for them to take off. Once the male took off, I waited a moment and then fired away….

After the male climbed into the nest, I look at the images….. out of focus…out of focus…out of focus….bad wing pose…..IN FOCUS AND PERFECT WING POSE!!!

But then I saw that I anticipated that the bird would come in higher than it did and that I had clipped off the tail… I ended up with an something that could have been a great image. I still can’t look at this image without getting a bit frustrated and teling myself: “WHY DIDN’T YOU ADJUST THE CAMERA JUST A BIT LOWER!?!?!”

This is the unprocessed original


The other painful fail happened in October. I just walked through a patch of flowering trees, when i suddenly heard ad then saw a few Scarlet Honeyeaters. I was about 3 km from my car, but I decided to sprint back to get al my gear. About 40 minutes later I arived back at the spot. I quickly set up, hoping the birds were still there and would come in. To my surprise they were still there and one bird quickly inspected my perch. Unfortuately, it decided to only stay for about 3 seconds and NEVER looked up ­čśŽ After the stunning bird left, the whole flock of 5 birds moved on and I haven’t seen one since….

This is the unprocessed original.


The third memory I want to leave in 2012 happened a week ago, when i was photographying Hooded Plovers. This time I got great images, but a wave hit my Mark IV….At first it kept working fine, but shortly after the camera died. Hopefully it is not too bad, but I have to wait until january 3 to find out….

By posting those two pictures I hope to leave behind the bad luck in 2012 and finally get some closure and move on!


When winter arrives on the northern hemisphere all the shorebirds tavel south and many of them end up along the Australian coastline. The vast majority of them around Melbourne are Red-necked Stints (Calidris ruficollis) and Curlew Sandpipers (Calidris ferruginea), but there are also many Sharp-tailed Sandpipers (Calidris acuminata), Bar-tailed & Black Godwits and many other species in smaller numbers.

Last week we had the first summery days here in Melbourne with temperatures beyond the 30┬░C and clear skies. Believe it or not, but clear skies are not a very common occurence in Melbourne and so I tried to make the best out of it and headed to a well known wader spot.

I was very happy to see thousands of shorebirds foraging along the shore.

Below are a few results.

All pictures taken with:

1D Mark IV

600 L IS


ISO 800



Red-necked Stints (Calidris ruficollis)



Curlew Sandpipers (Calidris ferruginea)


Sharp-tailed Sandpipers (Calidris acuminata)


To not get wet, I wore chest waders, which kept me dry, even though it was boiling hot in them, the only piece of equipment that always suffers a real beating when shooting shorebirds is the tripod. After only spending a few hours in the mud, the legs started to get stiff and got stuck, so I had the fun task to completely take apart the tripod and then I had to oil all the parts and put the tripod back together. Unfortunately, if you don’t do this after a rough evening in the saltwater and mud, the tripod will very soon be broken ­čśŽ