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Should we expect more from bird photographers?


11 Jan 2013 2:14PM
this is getting out of hand. Smile

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cameracat 11 8.6k 61 Norfolk Island
11 Jan 2013 2:14PM

Quote:Should we expect more from bird photographers?


Yes..Grin After years of photographing birds, Bird photographers, Should have learned to fly.....Smile

Yes I know that is a joke, But you started it....Wink
mikehit e2
5 7.1k 11 United Kingdom
11 Jan 2013 2:15PM

Quote:I simply want to know what makes a good bird image


BOAS shots are pretty much the same as any wildlife shots - it is just that birds are more easily seen and photographed (as Pete says, includng the garden). Photos that make me stop and look again fall pretty much into two camps:
sharp focus on the eye, good lighting, background nicely blurred with just enough detail to stop it looking like a monocolour sheet (that lost one is where the expensive lenses come in, unfortunately)
the bird being active (fighting off competition, pulling a worm out of the ground etc) where the background needs only be partly blurrred to focus the attention on the subject



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

Not really. With studio portraits you are affected by the lighting - someone who knows about lighting will appreciate the technical aspects of it, someone who has never done studio lighting will simply appreciate it without really knowing why it chimes with them. There are some wildlife photos that I find are not particularly good from a 'wildlife' POV but make me go 'how the hell did you do that?' which is impressive in its own way.



Quote:I do understand the rules of portaiture, construction of a good landscape, how to compile a pleasing graphic image, etc.

I think that may be indicative of your approach to wildlife shots - this explanation (right or wrong) suggests someone who likes to be in control of the shot and understands 'the rules' and apprecaites those same rules and maybe photos appeal to you where someone has shown mastery of those 'rules'. To grossly generalise wildlife is more about 'grabbing the moment' and making do with what you have got; yes, luck comes into it but you make your won 'luck'.

But at the end of the day, a good bird shot (whether BOAS or in flight), will make me go 'wow!' first and then I look at it in more detail. And that comes down to personal aesthetics.
arhb e2
7 2.5k 68 United Kingdom
11 Jan 2013 2:16PM
From my past limited experience in bird photography, capturing the subject exactly where you want it, is a challenge.
Add to thet, when it does land where you want it, it it there for less than a second, so from a 2hr session in the hide, you will get 1 or 2 shots worth using, but maybe none.
Getting exposure correct, showing good plumage detail throughout the subject, whilst keeping the eye sharp all add up to making bird photography very challenging.

Whilst considering the above, take a look at an EC of a BOAS, and ask why it received the EC.
Also, as with humans, some birds are more photogenic that others Smile

HTH
zan 7 62 Scotland
11 Jan 2013 2:17PM

Quote:...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!).


See, I don't think that advances in technology have anything to do with the issue you're describing. Better, faster cameras might allow more people to take closer, sharper, technically better shots, but if you want something unusual and creative you need the person behind the camera to have the vision to imagine the shot AND the ability / endurance to go and get it. However, because bird photography can be so damn difficult, it takes a really long time to get good enough to get to the point where you can take 'just' technically perfect images of the subject standing still never mind adding in behaviours and unusual perspectives.

I would suggest though, that perhaps one issue is with the attitude that is frequently taken with regard to bird photography. Ask in just about any forum what gear you need to take good bird images and the majority will recommend large telephoto lenses and won't entertain the idea of using anything else. And while that is good advice the majority of the time, you won't necessarily get an unusual bird photograph that way and it will result in a plethora of images which feel generally similar.

If you look at the images that are winning the big wildlife and bird competitions, an increasing number of them are being won by people using short / wide lenses to give a brand new perspective on the animals being shot. Fish-eye lenses are showing up a lot, and it's obvious that what is impressing judges (at least in these large competitions) are shots where the photographer has got extremely physically close to the subject AND shot something interesting with it. So perhaps it just needs a bit of creativity from the photographers to leave their long lenses at home and try something new with different kit and different subjects? It won't work for everything and will certainly require a lot of adaptation from the photographer and chances are the majority of attempts will be awful, but it might be worth a shot?
Hali 3 44 Scotland
11 Jan 2013 2:20PM
I suppose it depends on whether you see birds as purely an object on which to practice photography skills, or whether you see beauty in the bird, its pose, the colours, lighting etc. For me its the latter - I love looking at the bird shots. To me, some seem cheeky, some elegant, but all are beautiful.

I think the same of landscapes, yes many are of the same style, but again I find most of them very pleasing, because I love the (British in particular) natural landscape and never fail to wonder at what nature can produce.

Yes, I know this forum is for photography, but sometimes I think people are so caught up in the' process' of photography itself (e.g. how a shot was taken, whether it is technically correct etc etc) rather than just stepping back and enjoying the end result. But I guessfor those that aren't particularly nature lovers, it would be difficult to get the same enjoyment from these photos that I do.
brian1208 e2
11 10.6k 12 United Kingdom
11 Jan 2013 2:27PM

Quote:...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!).



One of the more senior judges (active in the International / salon judging ciruit) who visits our club comps now and then made a similar comment last year.

He expects all nature and wild-life shots to be "perfect" technically and is looking for that added "something" which makes the shot outstanding.

He cited things such as clear evidence of the environment in which the subject was living, unusual or unseen behaviour, exceptional composition etc.

Whilst not disparaging the Bird in Flight shots, or static Bird on a Stick with perfectly smooth, out of focus bokeh he explained that these would never score highly as far as he was concerned

I took his thoughts to heart and have stopped creating or entering such shots of my bugs, birds and butterflies into competitions.

Its buggered up my scores in the competitions mind you as most of my fellow nature shooters have stuck with the "old" style and most of the local judges still enthuse wildly about such classic shots and score accordingly Wink

All I can say is, thank god we all see things differently "vive la difference"! Grin
p12owe 2 101 2 United Kingdom
11 Jan 2013 2:36PM

Quote: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.


Unfortunately as some of you may know, due to an illness, I am stuck indoors and therefore forced to take slices of lemons on black perspex. I was doing it to practice some different camera skills, lighting, masking etc... they have not been posted in the gallery and I certainly would not expect awards for them... I did some oil and water shots as well... all very exciting!

As you seem determined to take everything the wrong way and make things personal, I shall retire from this thread forthwith, with my tin hat very well battered and promise never to shoot a lemon again!
WinkWinkWinkWinkSad
brian1208 e2
11 10.6k 12 United Kingdom
11 Jan 2013 2:39PM

Quote:promise never to shoot a lemon again!


I do trust that no Lemons were hurt during filming! Grin
11 Jan 2013 2:43PM
try onions they will make ya cry hehehe
hi14ry 2 21 England
11 Jan 2013 3:08PM
Why is it that birds get more awards than other animals....surley the difficulty in taking the photograph and the skills involved in taking a moving image are the same?
p12owe 2 101 2 United Kingdom
11 Jan 2013 3:26PM
Serious wildlife Alert!!!!




Pete e2
13 18.7k 96 England
11 Jan 2013 3:45PM

Quote:Why is it that birds get more awards than other animals

Same reason birds get more awards than bike photos - more photos are uploaded some of the technically best photographers on here are nature photographers who upload lots of bird photos. I just award what comes in with no bias to subject. Can't speak for anyone else dishing out User awards or the Guest Editor's choice but I hope they do the same.
mikehit e2
5 7.1k 11 United Kingdom
11 Jan 2013 3:51PM

Quote:...
One of the more senior judges (active in the International / salon judging ciruit) who visits our club comps now and then made a similar comment last year.

He expects all nature and wild-life shots to be "perfect" technically and is looking for that added "something" which makes the shot outstanding.

He cited things such as clear evidence of the environment in which the subject was living, unusual or unseen behaviour, exceptional composition etc.




I know what you mean Brian. I entered one of my drone fly photos in the local club competition and the judge made the point that the usual thing was to get large DOF to show the whole bug, but this was shot at f5.6 with very noarrow DOF which lifted it from a 'record shot' to something more abstract and even 'art' (oo-er I thought).
I think it is strange that many animal shots are labelled as 'record shots' (and in the main I agree) but I have almost never heard that applied to even the most mundane of landscapes.
NeilS e2
7 936 United Kingdom
11 Jan 2013 3:57PM
Not overly keen on Birds on a stck, prefer mine moving

However BIF require, I believe more patience, skill, luck and sometimes better equipment

Who cares if they get less votes, its what you are into

Here is one I shot this morning, I am currently trying to get three different images of Jays with a prefocussed spot and using a depth of field of just 14cm, and I can tell you it aint easy, but it can be done

jay-epz-size.jpg



I would however settle for a Do Do on a stick, though two mating in flight would be the holy grail

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