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Old Monday 3rd October 2005, 17:17   #1
ColinD
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Quality of bird photos on Internet

Ok, cards on the table straight away. As many of you will know, I'm not a big fan of digi scoping for a variety of reasons. That said, there are some incredible quality photos of digi scoped birds on the internet. Recent examples I can think of include Leach's Petrel, White-winged Black Tern (Crosby marina) and Wryneck, plus many more.

However, there really are some poor photos out there. I often go on Surf birds for a quick look at the birds I'm missing out on, and to be honest in a few cases, I'm embarassed for the photographer. Post a record shot of a bird if there are no other photos by all means, but why do people persist in posting out of focus, dull, grainy, distant images of birds in the rain when there are shed loads of fantastic photos already available? I'm sick of seeing the words "record shot". It's like parking on double yellow lines, on a bend with your hazard warning lights on and thinking it's ok. It's not, it's still dangerous! Why do we need a record shot of a bird that's been photographed to death?

I gave up bird photography a long time ago because I was so bad at it. Some of the photos on Surf Birds make my attempts look quite reasonable. I wonder why these people put such poor quality images up against the works of art that others produce. Is it just to prove that they saw the bird?

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Old Monday 3rd October 2005, 17:28   #2
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Old Monday 3rd October 2005, 17:37   #3
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Couldn't agree more, Colin. Is it a desire to "belong" to the crowd? Or is it meant to grip people off ("Eat you heart out; I've seen a Pec Sand!") Goodness knows; I don't understand at all.
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Old Monday 3rd October 2005, 17:39   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ColinD
Is it just to prove that they saw the bird?

Colin
I think so, yes - but some of them aren't particularly rare birds even.

Mind you, they do make some of our...err... 'reasonably good' shots look much better in comparison!
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Old Monday 3rd October 2005, 17:59   #5
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Hmmm ... not sure I agree totally with the comments so far.

In my case, I post a diversity of birds that can be seen from my neck of the woods so other forum members will have an appreciation of what to see in Trinidad and where to go. In turn, I also like to see bird shots by location of other places in the world, even if the photos are not of a high quality. This is what online community is all about. Also, by posting in birdforum, I can easily see where I progressed (or regressed) over time.

Many others just like to post pictures they have taken for their own reference, not necessarily for the benefit of others and that's fine also.

So I think that while the comments certainly have merit, they may be a bit on the harsh side. Once a poor photo brings a smile to someone's face, nothing wrong in posting it.
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Old Monday 3rd October 2005, 18:12   #6
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I also am not convinced by such a harsh judgment. I readily admit that I might agree more if we restrict the argument to certain zones, such as the U.K. where there are is a plethora of just about every bird in all possible age and plumage variations. However, though much of the rest of the world is slowly catching up (I am talking about local photographers in various countries here) both in their photographic equipment and expertise (a good example are the many fine photographers in Malaysia and Thailand), this is not true in all cases. Many times in these cases one must be thankful to see any image however bad it is. Here is a little Regulus as it should be photographed - http://sjl.csie.chu.edu.tw/birds/bir...3_GK0G1096.htm

Let's be a little more mellow on these things, after all no one is holding a gun to our heads forcing us to look at birds we have seen thousands of photos of...
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Old Monday 3rd October 2005, 18:35   #7
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My whinge (and I think Colin's too) is specifically to the "Stop Press UK Rarities" pages of the Surfbirds site, which can be littered with often dismal photos of the same bird. Most of the recent photos there are of super quality, but browse back through the older pages and you'll soon get sick to death of seeing the Spurn Lesser Grey Shrike, to name but one.
http://www.surfbirds.com/cgi-bin/gal...llery9&start=1

If the photos were all of high-quality I wouldn't mind how many were posted (within reason, anyway).
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Old Monday 3rd October 2005, 18:39   #8
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If I was shooting the sort of poor quality(some not all)shots that are on Surfbirds then I would give up bird photography.Coupled with this why is there the need to post multiple shots of one bird?(especially an easy to ID one?)in the case of a unsure ID then i`ve no problems with getting shots from different angles,underwing patterns etc.

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Old Monday 3rd October 2005, 18:45   #9
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Isn't the problem though, that once Surfbirds start turning crappy shots down they'll be seen by the contributors as "passing judgement" on the pictures submitted?

I imagine that Surfbirds simply don't want to get caught up in the whole "you didn't post my pic, but it's better than XXXX's pic, and you posted that..!" thing, and as a result they all get posted.

And - I guess - that whether a given image is good, bad or indifferent, it is possibly a huge deal to the person who took it that he saw the bird, and he simply wants to share some of that with the rest of the world...

That's exactly what's going on with my avatar!

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Old Monday 3rd October 2005, 19:02   #10
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I think more honesty is needed from us; how many times have you seen a photo up for critique on this site or on dedicated photography sites, that is truly poor.

I certainly haven't dared say how bad it is, or put negative comments. I assume the poster asks for pointers to try and improve technique - in some cases it should be - 'try something else' perhaps. I've never read a bad critique on this site, though sure there must be some.

One hopes that if you don't comment on a poor image, the poster might get the message.

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Old Monday 3rd October 2005, 20:45   #11
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Who of us has seen a particular photographer(s) start out with bad equipment, bad technique with the obvious outcome of producing below quality photos just to see the same photographer(s) progressively better their equipment and expertise and start producing fine quality photos! No need to answer as this is a rhetorical question. I have to vet a number of crappy photos for various reasons and those producing the photos know within themselves that it is subquality photography. Maybe that is all that they can afford in the way of equipment for the time being. I do not criticize bad photos unless they might happen to be within the ambit of a photography technique type forum. So, especially given that many birders first emphasis is on the birding first, and photography second, why be so free with criticism. I would rather that people continue being enthusiastic about birds and not bummed out by being criticized.
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Old Monday 3rd October 2005, 21:09   #12
ColinD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cuckooroller
So, especially given that many birders first emphasis is on the birding first, and photography second, why be so free with criticism. I would rather that people continue being enthusiastic about birds and not bummed out by being criticized.
The only criticism I am making, if indeed I am making a criticism, is that the crappy shots get put on Surf Birds as "Record Shots". Take the recent Little Crake at Slimbridge as an example. You can find any number of pin sharp, stunning photos of the bird in good light, yet you will also see out of focus, touched up, dull, distant "it was the best I could get" shots of the bird.

Great, you did your best, the results are a little disappointing but keep trying and you'll improve with time. However, given that there are 50 wonderful shots on Surf Birds already, did we really need to see 5 of your crappy shots? That's my point.

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Old Tuesday 4th October 2005, 12:45   #13
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Nobody's forcing you to look at the pix on surfbirds. If you don't like them, don't bother. I for one enjoying seeing timely shots of rarities (major or minor). I don't get out every weekend but I like to know what's been about.

I've seen lots of beautifully shot birds (here on BF and elsewhere) where the photographer has misidentified the subject. Digiscoping/digibinning/phonescoping or whatever is not for the photographer but is fine for the birder who doesn't what to lug around both a big lens & a scope. It is great as a recoding tool but it's not art.
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Old Tuesday 4th October 2005, 12:59   #14
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I'm with ColinD on this one. Apart from anything else 10 poor quality shots can be posted pushing the stunning shot off the bottom before some people have even seen it!

Also, there should be some mechanism (by rarity value) to keep the Stop Press page to BB rarities. Photographers should be lmited to 2 or 3 shots of one bird. Poor "record" shots should be periodically removed. i.e. there should be some sort of vetting process.

That's just my opinion and too be honest it's worth putting up with the poor shots most of the time.
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Old Tuesday 4th October 2005, 13:02   #15
ColinD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alastair Rae
Nobody's forcing you to look at the pix on surfbirds. If you don't like them, don't bother. I for one enjoying seeing timely shots of rarities (major or minor). I don't get out every weekend but I like to know what's been about.
Groan..... Did you read my last posting?

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Old Tuesday 4th October 2005, 14:42   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alastair Rae
Nobody's forcing you to look at the pix on surfbirds. If you don't like them, don't bother.
Maybe, but, unlike BF's gallery where the page opens up with thumbnails, Surfbirds has the whole page of photos to open and scroll through - so you're sort of forced to look at the crappy shots in order to find the good ones. Not a big problem with broadband but anyone on dial-up must be particularly frustrated!

And why do the posters of the poorer shots seem to push the maximum size 'guidelines' to the limit!
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Old Friday 7th October 2005, 09:17   #17
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Lightbulb

Quote:
Originally Posted by cuckooroller
Who of us has seen a particular photographer(s) start out with bad equipment, bad technique with the obvious outcome of producing below quality photos just to see the same photographer(s) progressively better their equipment and expertise and start producing fine quality photos! No need to answer as this is a rhetorical question. I have to vet a number of crappy photos for various reasons and those producing the photos know within themselves that it is subquality photography. Maybe that is all that they can afford in the way of equipment for the time being. I do not criticize bad photos unless they might happen to be within the ambit of a photography technique type forum. So, especially given that many birders first emphasis is on the birding first, and photography second, why be so free with criticism. I would rather that people continue being enthusiastic about birds and not bummed out by being criticized.
I couldn't agree more... in respect of enthusiasm, and not to be criticised. I am an amateur who accidentally fell upon this serious site and who after being a member for about three days is taking her hubby out birding... I just think thats great in the extreme. I want to capture on film some of the fantastic sights I have seen such as a shag trying to swallow an eel as big as itself.... wouldn't I love to have had that recorded. With digi cameras so small and portable now you can capture the moment and the composition but not necessarily the sharpness that you the professionals achieve. Please don't put us off, we need help to achieve better results, and wish to be as good as you.
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Old Friday 7th October 2005, 11:49   #18
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I think that posting a not-so-good shot on BF, where you can ask for and receive advice on how to improve, is an entirely different kettle of fish from posting them on Surfbirds, where the only point seems to be to say "Ooh, look! I saw the bird!"
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Old Friday 7th October 2005, 17:17   #19
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I do somewhat agree. Recently a renowned oriental birder asked me for permission to use my flight shot of a female montagu's harrier to create a presentation on harriers...it was a pretty decent one, given the difficulty of shooting harriers in flight....but i felt that others may have better ones, so I gave the "go ahead", with the disclaimer saying that others may have better ones, so, use it if necessary.
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Old Friday 7th October 2005, 19:48   #20
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I'm with you on this Colin but I really think it's up to the poster. The pics get posted by the photographer instantly and there's been some humerous 'birds' on there in the past. All good fun.

It did get out of hand when everyone with a camera who saw the Belted Kingfisher thought they had to post a pic to prove they were there or something.

More recently a local Hoopoe covered the UK Stop Press rare birds pages with full size, camera phone pics. I can accept all of this but what really makes me laugh is the 'photographers' who posts really awful photos and write their name across the image with a copyright. Like someone would want to copy them??? Wake up!
Even the pro's insist on the same antic from time to time. Let us know you took it by all means but don't write COPYRIGHT all over it. It's just not attractive. Post a low resolution image & offer higher res. images for sale, please.


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Old Friday 7th October 2005, 20:46   #21
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As someone new to Digi-scoping and Photography . Its these negative views which really get my down. Havn't you all forgotton something we all were learners once....... I'm the first to admit ive posted some cr*p pics(and still am) but I like to use Bf as an online scrapbook. So in years to come I can look back at my Gallery and laugh (hopefully Ive improved by then) ...
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Old Friday 7th October 2005, 21:18   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by littlestintboy
As someone new to Digi-scoping and Photography . Its these negative views which really get my down. Havn't you all forgotton something we all were learners once....... I'm the first to admit ive posted some cr*p pics(and still am) but I like to use Bf as an online scrapbook. So in years to come I can look back at my Gallery and laugh (hopefully Ive improved by then) ...
Hmmm.... Not sure Bird Forum is really meant to be used as your online scrapbook, but anyway, that's a different debate! I could say if negative views get you down, then don't post cr*p photos. I digress.....

The point a lot of people seem to be forgetting is that the issue is whether or not these bad photos should be posted to Surf Birds NOT Bird Forum. Of course we all want to see photos of the latest rarity on Surf Birds, but when there are already lots of brilliant photos of a bird, why does somebody then post a terrible, out of focus, distant and dull "record shot"? And not just one, but sometimes five different versions of the same cr*ppy photo. Thats the only point I'm trying to make. Can we try and keep that in focus at least

I realise that we were all learners once, but you learn nothing by posting a poor photo to Surf Birds, because it's the wrong place to learn how to correct your mistakes. You don't get advice on photography from Surf Birds. It's not meant for that.

Now, I quite agree that people should be able to post poor photos elsewhere AND ask for advice in order that they can improve as photographers. However, being the miserable so-and-so that I am, and having a thought for disk space and download implications, there are only two justifiable reasons why I would post a poor quality photo ANYWHERE on the Internet, as follows: 1) there are no better photos available or 2) I'm asking for advice on how to improve, in which case I expect constructive critism.

Why else would I want to post a cr*p photo?

Colin
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Old Saturday 8th October 2005, 01:06   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ColinD
... there are only two justifiable reasons why I would post a poor quality photo ANYWHERE on the Internet, as follows: 1) there are no better photos available or 2) I'm asking for advice on how to improve, in which case I expect constructive critism.

Why else would I want to post a cr*p photo?

Colin
Agree with reasons given. To add a few more:

3) - Assistance with bird ID (what is it?)
4) - ID the bird quiz (can you guess what it is?)
5) - Personal good pic .. even if others view as inferior
6) - Original scenario / uniquely interesting ... even if not perfect
7) - Share experience with another interested colleague

Another concern here is that good vs bad pics are VERY subjective.

I love Nigel Blake's and Laurence Poh's photography. By their inspiring standards, 99.999% of everyone else's bird pics can be considered well below par. Maybe we should only have the 100 or so professional photographers post their pictures and the rest of us could occupy our time by simply having discussions of relatively dubious merit such as the one this thread.

On some occasions I actually enjoy "bad" pictures instead of perfectly composed, perfectly focused "good" ones. I guess I'm in the minority here.

Got to go ... Need to post some photos.
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Old Saturday 8th October 2005, 09:58   #24
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Time for a sweep through the data base here, I think photos on this sites data base that are of poor quality should be removed.
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Old Saturday 8th October 2005, 10:15   #25
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Colin,

as far as I'm concerned the Gallery allowance on BF is exactly a member's "online scrap book" - I mean exactly that - to use as the member wishes within the overall remit of the site.

Again, to use the BF Gallery is not to invite criticism - that's obviously why there's a separate critique forum.

Gashead,

who is going to be the arbiter of what gets kept and what doesn't? It would take a very conceited and self-opinionated individual to volunteer for that role.

While we're on, let's get rid of all postings that contain spelling mistakes and poor grammar - both things that bother me far more than iffy photographs.

Some of the points about Surfbirds might well be valid - I deal with that by not looking at the site: but if people here choose to post images which in the opinion of some on BF are "unworthy", then more power to their elbow, if it makes them happy.

God knows, it's not hard to avoid looking at them if they offend people's sensibilities to that extent...
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