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Old Saturday 20th July 2013, 09:40   #1
senatore
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Shots taken at specialist sites.

I am a keen bird photographer and as such for years have been admiring stunning shots taken by many other photographers.

Often I've thought " how on earth did they get that shot it's spectacular ?". "How did they get so close ? "

I'm obviously very naive because it's only recently that I've found out that there are numerous private sites where for a fee (Often over 100 a session) you are guaranteed to get very close shots of say Kingfishers that have been "managed" to be regular visitors.

I said quite recently to a top local photographer I know " X got a great shot last week of a Crested Tit in Scotland". His reply was "I should think so it cost him 75 to visit a private reserve where they are fed throughout the winter and come very close to the hide"

This news devalued the shot in my opinion.It also has made me suspicious of some of the spectacular shots I keep seeing on the net.

Am I being a bit silly now being not so impressed with such shots.

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Old Saturday 20th July 2013, 10:48   #2
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Well, at hotspots, whether private and expensive or free of charge, you will find tamer birds that are easier to photograph - they become habituated to people pointing binoculars and cameras in their direction as nothing bad happened to their comrades subjected to the same treatment. My friends made many stunning waterbird pictures from our public and free riverbanks right in the city center.
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Old Sunday 21st July 2013, 12:34   #3
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Bird photography is challenging in the best of circumstances. Great images are more than just seeing a bird - they are going to places that provide the best opportunity for many images of a desired subject. They are looking for peak action or interesting behavior. And they are looking for great lighting.

I've visited places like the St. Augustine Alligator Farm where you can easily have a thousand frames of egrets or herons with chicks, nest building, or courting. Practicing birds in flight is easy. And you learn about lighting and good technique in a controlled environment.

In south Texas during migration season there are ranches that do a good business providing photographers with blinds, habitat, and food for birds. This creates wonderful bird photos of a range of subjects.

You also need to keep in mind that the top photos involve a lot of effort. I might spend 10-20 days a year photographing a specific group of birds in a specific habitat. The odds get a lot better with that kind of effort vs. a random image. I'm only photographing birds with good light - and often the wind coming from a specific direction. And I don't spend time photographing common birds in less than peak conditions. For example, with egrets, herons and other common wading birds, I want photos in breeding plumage and might not photograph them at all the rest of the year.
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Old Sunday 21st July 2013, 14:17   #4
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Its a bit like most professional photography, if you need to get a sellable picture of a person, you pay for a model. That in no way guarantees that the photos will be any use, that is down to the skills of the photographic team and a bit of luck, but it removes many of the random variables (especially if you have used that model before) and gives you a sporting chance of meeting whatever brief you had for the shoot.

If you view the paid for birds in much the same way, as Eric says, it will give you the best possible chance of getting a really good set of shots of live birds that someone else may wish to see or even pay you money for.

This is just one aspect of photography, there is plenty of room for people who get the maximum enjoyment out of hunting down birds in the wild and through skill and experience are capable of taking equally excellent photos on a regular basis. Folks who achieve this are indeed really talented and deserve all the plaudits they may get.

Clearly in competition this has caused problems in the past and is why the rules have often been modified to make sure that the truly skilled get their just deserts and don't lose out to a skilfully stuffed barn owl.
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Old Monday 22nd July 2013, 04:52   #5
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My take is that the realisation that people could manipulate the birds and images stopped me from admiring photos based on "how did they get that?" to my current criteria, which is more, "does it work as art?".

Obviously, my own photos and those of my friends use more emotional criteria so a naff photo of something hard to see is valued!
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Old Monday 22nd July 2013, 09:38   #6
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Cheers for the comments everyone.
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Old Monday 22nd July 2013, 11:17   #7
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A couple of possible considerations senatore.

If you used a personal, portable photography hide over a period of weeks and months to get the shots you're after, would that mean more than paying the 100 to turn up and use someone else's setup? Maybe it would. Or, do you like I have done, hold out an expectation that you wait for that once in a lifetime occassion where something unexpected lands right in front of your lens and you get your shot?

As a birder who takes photos of birds rather than claiming to be a "photographer", I tell myself that I don't have the time to spends hours and hours waiting in a hide setup although over time, I've found myself wanting to improve on my results and I am tempted to try for a few species which I would never get locally and can enjoy at close quarters by paying for the experiance.

I am also conscious that by using a carefully arranged setup maybe less intrusive to birds than wanting to photograph otherwise? What do you think? As for manipulation of your subject or resulting images, I really don't see the fun or the point?
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Old Monday 22nd July 2013, 12:03   #8
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Each to their own I guess, whereas I can't be bothered with too much image processing I think trying to manipulate a shot is great fun and a challenge. Many of my best shots have been taken in the garden but the birds are there because I feed them. Creating natural looking perches, hiding food out of shot, it's all part of the game. Even the visiting Sparrowhawk is only there to catch birds at the feeders. I am lucky in that I can attract these birds in to my garden, others are not so if they choose to pay for the privilege that's their choice. Every foreign bird I have photographed has come at the price of travel, every time I visit a bird hide there is an element of "set up".All those cute Puffin shots have probably been at the cost of a trip to one of the nesting colonies around the UK. All rests easy with me !
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Old Wednesday 24th July 2013, 09:00   #9
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Some more good points there.

One thing that made me start this thread was some shots published recently of Bearded Tits.They are great birds but a devil to get great shots of in the reeds at Titchwell and Cley etc. in Norfolk so if I see an impressive shot I'm full of praise for the photographer.

Recently though at least one photographer I know has published great shots of Bearded Tits but they were taken at Pensthorpe in the walk in captive area near the centre.You cannot fail here as the birds are almost tame.This was not stated when the shots were published and considerable praise ensued.This is not right in my eyes.

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Old Wednesday 24th July 2013, 09:22   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by senatore View Post
Recently though at least one photographer I know has published great shots of Bearded Tits but they were taken at Pensthorpe in the walk in captive area near the centre.You cannot fail here as the birds are almost tame.This was not stated when the shots were published and considerable praise ensued.This is not right in my eyes.
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Published where?
Some outlets (magazines, photo competitions ...) require disclosure if shoots are wildlife, assisted wildlife, captive, some don't. Ethical would be to disclose circumstances, also what was done in processing, that produced the image -if this seems required. On flickr and other picture albums I consider this not essential, in other outlets its a no-brainer even if it is only to prevent copy cat attempts under wrong impressions that are bound to fail but create a lot of stress in the habitat or put the photographers at risk.

There are many different views under what circumstances wildlife photography can be still considered wildlife photography. By some standards shoots on or around backyard feeders would already not qualify, while others consider images taken on Gamefarms OK -depending on use and requirements (see first part above).

Both sides have valid points, e.g. animals shouldn't be habituated to feeding sites and provided food, human presence etc, or getting shoots in a controlled environment without stressing animals is better than having to stomp through the woods and create a lot of disturbance and stress for the wild target animals...........

Ulli
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Old Wednesday 24th July 2013, 09:48   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by senatore View Post
Some more good points there.

One thing that made me start this thread was some shots published recently of Bearded Tits.They are great birds but a devil to get great shots of in the reeds at Titchwell and Cley etc. in Norfolk so if I see an impressive shot I'm full of praise for the photographer.

Recently though at least one photographer I know has published great shots of Bearded Tits but they were taken at Pensthorpe in the walk in captive area near the centre.You cannot fail here as the birds are almost tame.This was not stated when the shots were published and considerable praise ensued.This is not right in my eyes.

Max.
Interesting you mention this as , when on holiday in East Anglia a few years ago, I spent hours waiting in the hide at Minsmere trying to get shots of a variety of species. Each morning up and in the hide by 5.00am. After 4 days it was time to move on so I was resigned to not getting Bearded Tit, a species I am unlikely to see at home. Giving it just one last chance, that extra 30 minutes, and suddenly the wind dropped, the sun came out and there, right in front of me for a few precious seconds only, a Bearded Tit. I went home happy with my capture. A few days later I went to Pensthorpe and was incredulous to see them sitting on a perch in the caged enclosure. I didn't take a single shot.
As for birds around my garden feeders, well, I have never seen a rule that says you can't use them to enter competitions anywhere. Birds on the actual feeders look unattractive anyway, however, I don't see the difference in feeding birds in the back garden to anywhere else.My first achievement in a staged shot was to drill a hole in a log and pop peanuts in it. Along came the Great Spotted Woodpecker and the photo's achieved. Very satisfying and I can't see anything unethical about that.
Where do you draw the line about natural feeding ? Herring Gulls eating mussels from the beach, scavenging food from rubbish tips or stealing sandwiches from holiday makers on our local promenade ? What about road kill ? Following fishing boats ? The list is endless.
In my opinion, any bird or animal that is free to come and go as it pleases is wild. If you happen to have a fish farm that attracts an Osprey to feed there why not take advantage and charge those that are prepared to do so for the pleasure. It also compensates for the loss of fish.
Next month I am paying to go on a pelagic cruise..yes, paying. Despite living on the coast getting shots of birds like Manx Shearwater is otherwise impossible.We might even toss some food in the ocean to try and tempt them closer too. Think what you may ! cheers Dave
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Old Wednesday 24th July 2013, 11:25   #12
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Publishing an image by sharing on the internet or posting on a Facebook page is very different than publishing them in a bird magazine or similar reputable publication. Following the ethical disclosure policy of just about every nature group would require disclosure in a commercial or competitive situation. But that sense of rigor is not required just to post an image on a personal Facebook page or Flickr site. Of course, if the intent is to mislead that is quite different.

Last year one of the top NANPA Showcase images featured an owl with a mouse. The owl was perfectly facing the camera - as was the mouse. It looked too good to be true. But the photographer had hundreds of frames of different images from that photo outing and the head position of the mouse was a combination of coincidence, good luck, and diligence. And the photographer has spent hundred of hours photographing the same population of owls producing a number of excellent images.

Game farms are quite controversial. I think the line is crossed when animals are captured and held in an enclosed area. A game farm is much more like a zoo - potentially without the level of control and oversight.

But that does not mean you can't photograph those subjects. Almost every wolf photo you see in a commercial publication is a captive subject. And even America's Smithsonian Institution has exhibited nature photographs taken in zoos and similar captive locations.
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