Razorbill Couple Portrait - Grimsey Island, Iceland
File #: 1805739
Nikon D500, 500mm f/4e AF-S, ISO 800, f/11, 1/1000sec
Most of the time when shooting wildlife I tend towards compositions we, as people, don't see regularly. To me this means making images I couldn't observe simply staring out from a walk. Most of the time this leads to frame filling subjects with simple backgrounds. It's a simple formula and I think it's followed by most bird photographers without thinking about it.
Being formulaic isn't all bad. It's only a bit poor if it's done without any consideration for any other options. In other words, choices are made without the photographer knowing there were other choices to make. Making a conscious choice among many is perfect. Not making a choice and not being aware there's more to chose from, I think that's less then perfect.
In this image, the issue is about depth of field. It's the choice. I consciously picked a narrow aperture to expand the depth of field to keep both birds in focus.
It's a simple thing, to shoot with a smaller aperture. But, most photographers don't vary the aperture because most of the time, shooting with the widest aperture you can better suits the simple formula--i.e. frame filling subjects with simple background. If I followed that course in this image, one of the birds would've been out of focus dramatically affecting the image, in my view.
Knowing what I wanted to keep both birds as sharp as possible directly led to me increasing the f-stop to increase the depth of field. As a result, all the other exposure settings had to be adjusted--slower shutter speed, higher ISO, and so on.
I try to remember all the options when I'm out shooting. Lots of times I forget and just do what I always do. But, other times, I remember everything and make all the adjustments that lead to really successful images.