Taking a Risk with Strikeouts

Taking a risk with strikeouts is something that we can face as photographers, and in other areas of our lives. In photographic terms a strikeout is an attempted image capture that proves unusable.

There are times when we may decide to attempt to create images in a particular manner that we realize upfront may result in failure… but we do it anyway. Sometimes our efforts are rewarded with photographs we can use. At other times all we get are strikeouts.

Taking a risk with strikeouts is an important part of being a photographer… and also a human being. Unless we experience failure we don’t know the limits of our current skill set… or perhaps the performance boundaries of our camera gear.

This article shares a selection of 9 consecutive handheld images of a merganser in flight captured yesterday at the Burlington Canal Pier. It includes some strikeouts and also some keepers. It is always important to put photographs in context.

While attempting to photograph some waterfowl in flight I had to very quickly get a merganser framed in my viewfinder while it was flying amongst a loose grouping of long tailed ducks. As soon my E-M1X’s Bird Detection AI drew a white box around the merganser I started firing off my image run.

I knew this was improper technique. I should have half-depressed the shutter to acquire focus, waited for the green auto focus box to appear, then initiated my image run. I realized that I was taking a risk by firing off my run too early.

The birds were flying past quickly, so half-depressing the shutter and waiting for the auto focus green box to appear could have resulted in a partial ‘rear view’ of the merganser. So, I took the risk and fired off a short burst purposely using improper technique… but getting the shooting angle I wanted.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 and M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 437 mm, efov 874 mm, f/12, 1/2500, ISO-1250, cropped to 3592 pixels on the width
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 and M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 437 mm, efov 874 mm, f/12, 1/2500, ISO-1250, cropped to 3969 pixels on the width
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 and M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 437 mm, efov 874 mm, f/12, 1/2500, ISO-1250, cropped to 3874 pixels on the width
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 and M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 437 mm, efov 874 mm, f/12, 1/2500, ISO-1250, cropped to 3675 pixels on the width
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 and M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 437 mm, efov 874 mm, f/12, 1/2500, ISO-1250, cropped to 3853 pixels on the width
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 and M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 437 mm, efov 874 mm, f/12, 1/2500, ISO-1250, cropped to 3648 pixels on the width
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 and M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 437 mm, efov 874 mm, f/12, 1/2500, ISO-1250, cropped to 3783 pixels on the width
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 and M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 437 mm, efov 874 mm, f/12, 1/2500, ISO-1250, cropped to 3291 pixels on the width
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 and M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 437 mm, efov 874 mm, f/12, 1/2500, ISO-1250, cropped to 3115 pixels on the width

In the big scheme of things, whether we end up with any keepers when taking a risk with strikeouts… really doesn’t matter. It is the effort and the learning that comes from the attempt, that is the real benefit. As the hockey great Wayne Gretzky said… we miss 100% of the shots we don’t take.

I think baseball Hall of Fame member Reggie Jackson is a great example of taking a risk with strikeouts. He currently holds the major league record for career strikeouts with 2,597.

Jackson also won two Silver Slugger Awards, was named an American League All-Star 14 times, awarded the American League’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 1973, earned two World Series MVP awards, and the Babe Ruth Award in 1977. He was a player on 5 World Series championship teams. None of that would have happened if he had been afraid of striking out.

Technical Note

Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process. Crops are indicated.

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6 thoughts on “Taking a Risk with Strikeouts”

  1. I am constantly amazed at your ability to photograph BIF. Strikeouts or not, you end up with amazing shots. I would not even consider using the MC20 on my 100-400 and for you to get these shots is way beyond my ability. I am not complaining, just stating facts. It may be possible for me to get to a decent level of performance using the MC14 over some time with a lot more practice but your shots handheld are just outstanding.

  2. I just read through this while planning an indoor photo shoot of two of my grand kids, who will arrive in a few hours. I am encouraged to give it a go, even if I “strike out”. Thanks.

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