Sometimes, there's disturbance in the atmosphere between you and your subject: air is moving and, as a result, your images are not tack sharp... and there is nothing you can do about it!
Throughout the years, I have encountered this issue in a few situations. The most obvious is fog: it looks wonderful, it creates dreamy conditions, but all those water droplets floating in front of you are taking a toll on image quality. Heat haze, when the sun heats the ground, is another. Related is water evaporation: that one I've faced when shooting birds on snow on a sunny day, or simply birds on a lake.
In all cases, the result is the same: there's nothing visibly interfering with the focusing process, yet the images are not tack sharp.
So, what can you do about it?
Well, not much I'm afraid! No matter how well you know your gear, no matter how good your technique is, you can't affect the air that's between you and your target. That said, here are a few tricks to improve your chances.
1. Spray and pray. Haze is volatile and unpredictable: one moment it wrecks your images, and the next it does nothing. Keep shooting, and review your images at home with a cool head: there may be a few great ones in there!
2. Get closer to your subject. The closer you are, the less air there is between the bird and your sensor, which reduces the risk of interference.
3. Wait for cooler hours. This one is kinda natural for outdoors photographers, as we always seek golden hour. It's less hot around sunset and especially sunrise, so it greatly helps with heat-related haze.
4. Embrace wider compositions. Absolute sharpness is less critical if your subject is small in the frame. Fog, in particular, lends itself well to moody frames that leave a lot of room for the environment to frame the subject.
5. Stop pixel-peeping. It's important to make sharp images, but it's action and atmosphere that are really crucial. If you have a great frame that's not completely sharp: keep it! It's valuable nonetheless.
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