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Should we expect more from bird photographers?


p12owe 2 101 2 United Kingdom
11 Jan 2013 10:50AM
As I peruse the award galleries looking for something original, unusual or creative, I am always amazed by the sheer volume of bird images. It is clearly a very popular pastime with large numbers of similar shots being taken. It is also clear that technical camera skills and perseverance of the photographer are often evident, but... yes, you knew there would be a "but"!...

...With today's advances in technology, some incredibly fast expensive lenses, image stabilisation etc. Should we perhaps expect something a little more unusual or creative than the regular, over sharpened, bird on a stick images that appear time after time (or even those series of bird in flight pictures, posted day after day, that when put together resemble a stop motion movie!).

Before anybody takes offense, let me say that this thread is not designed to knock bird photographers, as there are obviously some very good ones here. It is also not designed to knock the site, as the same thing also happens at club level and many other similar sites.

What I would like to do is explore why so many (mostly BOAS) images are still popular enough to end up in the award galleries, and decide whether I should personally be applying different judging criteria when viewing them.

Quick, pass me a tin hat someone!Tongue

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11 Jan 2013 11:29AM
they normally end up getting alot of clicks like any image of a naked lady TOLS (tits on legs), a landscape with lots of colour, mono portraits of men with character etc. because that is what people like. As for how you personally judge them is your choice. Should we expect more yes and no, some like reference shots, some arty. Maybe we bird photographers should try and make them different, heck I try but it can be hard enough to get a nice static image at best of times. Most of the work I do is using full manual control, focus,etc adding flashes when needed, is/vr/ is not a thing I need or use and find for garden birds I can get away with using my old 90mm macro lens made back in 1977.

As for being creative the below image is as about creative and technical as I think I will be comfortable with, manual focus, manual metering, flash, artifical background and basically very little pp work.





Others will have plenty to say im sure so think you may upgrade that tin hat to a bomb shelter..lol.
mikehit e2
5 7.1k 11 United Kingdom
11 Jan 2013 11:41AM

Quote:regular, over sharpened, bird on a stick images...or even those series of bird in flight pictures, posted day after day, that when put together resemble a stop motion movie


I am not sure here if you are talking about the profusion of bird pictures or the number that get awards. I sometimes feel the same about the profusion 'landscape with a big boulder in the foreground' shot - and far easier to get than a bird photo IMO (and requires the same level of dedication to get it right) and people are far more accepting of massive over-processing on a landscape that hits you between the eyes than on a wildlife shot.


Quote:Should we perhaps expect something a little more unusual or creative

Have you tried getting creative with a bird shot? The little buggers will not pick up that straw hat and cane no matter how much bird feed I put out. Ingrateful blighters. Nope, they just continue to do whatever they want - notably waiting until you set you rcamera up and for you to have your finger poised over the button before flying off.

I think most people appreciate that a good bird photo is not easy (have you tried it?) even those 'bird on a stick' and by definition, not many can afford the 'fast expensive lenses' you mention and even with the big ones, getting close enough to not rely on heavy cropping is interesting. Sure you can get decent shots on the fly while walking the dog (I have) but to get them repeatedly is a challenge. Add to that the aesthetic element of birds compared to most subjects (in much the same way a nude will get more views I am sure than a standard model shot) and I think you have a recipe for a very attractive photo that make people look twice.
digicammad 11 22.0k 37 United Kingdom
11 Jan 2013 11:42AM
I must admit I much prefer shots like the one above to the 'bird on stick' type, even though I know from my own painful attempts that the latter are very hard to get.
p12owe 2 101 2 United Kingdom
11 Jan 2013 12:13PM

Quote:I sometimes feel the same about the profusion 'landscape with a big boulder in the foreground' shot - and far easier to get than a bird photo IMO (and requires the same level of dedication to get it right) .


I couldn't agree more! and another of my pet hates (I have lots... tit'n'minge, overcooked HDR, that bloody tree with the mountain behind, etc etc!), if you visit many of these landscape locations you can often see the tripod marks worn into the rocks!Smile

I suppose, it is the sheer numbers of incredibly similar, unimaginative images awarded that I am referring to, many of which seem to be birds. These are surely just reference shots after all, and whether they are deserving of accolades is rally where my problem lies.

I did try bird photography once, but in my naivety assumed you just went out with your canon 350d and 300mm kit lens and waited for the birds to appear. I knew nothing of Canon L lenses, Hides, building perches, constructing false backgounds, baiting, electronic bird calls etc. I got a couple of good shots of a robin taking off, but the rest of the results were just as you would expect!
GazzaG2003 11 252 England
11 Jan 2013 12:40PM
I for one do not have the luxury of building hides/perches/baiting gardens etc to get your "unusual or creative" shots, I most of the time walk around a freezing cold/very hot reserve looking at grey blobs but when the oppotunity arises to capture one of our beautiful feathered friends its normally a few seconds notice, I do wait/stalk birds for hours and sometimes come back with nothing, I think (OP) you have no idea what goes on trying to get even the most simplest of shots of birds.
MikeRC e2
9 3.5k United Kingdom
11 Jan 2013 1:04PM

Quote:The little buggers will not pick up that straw hat and cane no matter how much bird feed I put out.


....nice one ....Smile Smile Smile
Pete e2
13 18.7k 96 England
11 Jan 2013 1:08PM

Quote:These are surely just reference shots after all, and whether they are deserving of accolades is rally where my problem lies.

Same could be said about most subjects posted on any site. My suggestion is try it your self. See if you can come up with as good a photo as the ones getting the awards. If you can, that's great, move onto a different equally easy looking subject and try that. More often than not these simple looking shots are less than simple when you come to try them. If you can attain the same quality then look at how to shoot that same subject that you've mastered in a different way and pave the way and inspire. Often the creative streak is what's needed to take a technically perfect "reference" style shot to a new level. Not everyone has that skill.
p12owe 2 101 2 United Kingdom
11 Jan 2013 1:12PM

Quote:I for one do not have the luxury of building hides/perches/baiting gardens etc to get your "unusual or creative" shots, I most of the time walk around a freezing cold/very hot reserve looking at grey blobs but when the oppotunity arises to capture one of our beautiful feathered friends its normally a few seconds notice, I do wait/stalk birds for hours and sometimes come back with nothing, I think (OP) you have no idea what goes on trying to get even the most simplest of shots of birds.


Could I most respectfully suggest that you read the original post rather than take offence at something that was never suggested or intended. You have not attempted to answer my original question, and for someone who has very few BOAS pictures in their PF I am a little bemused as to why you should be so offendedWink
Maddie 9 2.7k 2 United Kingdom
11 Jan 2013 1:51PM
Not everyone has got and can afford the top notch equipment, but that said, i don't think it is that easy with or without the equipment to get the perfect bird shot every time ....... with or without the stick.

Some people on here excel in what they produce in bird shots.

Landscapers can put hours of time and patience waiting for the light and come home with nothing but mundane drab shots from a long day.

Some people spends hours taking bits and pieces from different photos and make their own masterpiece up, each to their own and we have to accept that no matter what equipment we have or have not got, and how many hours we have sat patiently waiting, whether it was for light or a dinosaur to walk through the forest - not every image is for everyone.

That said, you clearly are having a go at the bird photographers that over sharpen their images (in your opinion). Those who gave the awards liked the shots, regardless of what you think.

So in plain English what you are wanting to say that their are too many over sharpened bird on a stick shots getting awards.
p12owe 2 101 2 United Kingdom
11 Jan 2013 1:51PM
I think some of the replies are a little defensive given my original post. The purpose of that original post was to get some insight into why a very particular type of bird picture is so popular.

It was not aimed at having a go at all bird photographers, and it was never suggested that there is no effort put into getting those shots. It is simply a genre that I do not understand. I doubt I could afford the equipment to do it justice myself, so please don't just say "try it yourself" without telling me what I should be looking for.

I am very new to photography, but I do understand the rules of portaiture, construction of a good landscape, how to compile a pleasing graphic image, etc. I simply want to know what makes a good bird image and do different rules apply to how they should be appreciated and judged?

I think my tin hat has dents in it already!
Pete e2
13 18.7k 96 England
11 Jan 2013 1:59PM

Quote:The purpose of that original post was to get some insight into why a very particular type of bird picture is so popular.

Easy accessible - in the garden for those who cannot travel for whatever reason
Liked subject
Interesting subject
Challenge subject to photograph


Quote:What I would like to do is explore why so many (mostly BOAS) images are still popular enough to end up in the award galleries,

I give awards to birds on sticks and have been criticised for it regularly over the years. My criteria is simple if I think it's technically excellent it may get an award. In that respect whether it's a bird on a stick, a motor bike hurtling around a track, or an acrobat performing, they're all similar fast moving objects frozen for a moment in time, but bird photographers tend to suffer the abuse.
Maddie 9 2.7k 2 United Kingdom
11 Jan 2013 2:04PM

Quote:and do different rules apply to how they should be appreciated and judged?



NO. Its just another photograph. If you understand as much as you claim to do, then why can't you look at a photograph of a bird and make a decision as to whether, in your view, its a good one.
GazzaG2003 11 252 England
11 Jan 2013 2:04PM

Quote:Could I most respectfully suggest that you read the original post rather than take offence at something that was never suggested or intended. You have not attempted to answer my original question, and for someone who has very few BOAS pictures in their PF I am a little bemused as to why you should be so offended


perhaps rather than shoot slices of lemons on a black perspex board perhaps you could give bird photography a shot this weekend and show us how its done and come back and post your "unusual and creative" shots, perhaps we could all learn from you.
KevSB 10 1.5k 5 United Kingdom
11 Jan 2013 2:13PM
I believe you are looking at this as a photographer and making a judgement from that angle, to the thousends of bird lovers out there those photos are wonderful and that audience is far bigger than photographers that look at them.
The same rule applys to most genrees, The Audience Dictates if it is to much, My flikr album has had over 200.000 hits with some pictures getting over 700 hits in there own right, But thats to an audience that is intrested in the subject and has no intrest in perfection, exsposure ect or a portaloo in the background.

If you take photographs for photographers then you will always have a small highly Critical audience who has there own preferences but will judge that picture by what came before.
who will become tired of seeing every genree overdone, As pete pointed out you could apply you same statement to a single tree on some rocks, a castle in front of a lake or cattage in front of a mountain.
A bike going round a bend, The list is endless tbh

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