Join for FREE
It only takes a minute!
Discover the ZEISS Digital Nature Hub

Welcome to BirdForum.
BirdForum is the net's largest birding community, dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE! You are most welcome to register for an account, which allows you to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Should professional bird tour guides use long-lens cameras?

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread
Old Tuesday 25th February 2020, 12:37   #1
John Cantelo
Registered User
 
John Cantelo's Avatar

 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Canterbury, UK
Posts: 6,466
Should professional bird tour guides use long-lens cameras?

On a recent birding trip, the tour leader firmly expressed the opinion that, as a professional bird tour leader, he never carried a camera. He argued that people had paid him a lot of money to find and show them birds and that faffing around with a camera would only distract him and compromise his role. Has he got a point or is it an unreasonable demand? I don't think it's a big problem if guides have a handy bridge camera and grab the odd photo but wonder how far those with expensive SLR kits are willing to limit themselves to benefit clients. I've heard stories about some guides seemingly caring more about getting that shot than getting folks onto the bird. So, should (or perhaps do) bird tour companies have a policy on this with a no-camera rule for leaders (unless bird photography is a big element of the trip)? Note that word 'professional', if the leader isn't paid (as I think may sometimes be the case) then I think different rules may apply.
__________________
John

Please support Andalucia Bird Society www.andalusiabirdsociety.org Visit my website & blog on birding in SW Spain at http://birdingcadizprovince.weebly.com/

Last edited by John Cantelo : Tuesday 25th February 2020 at 13:10.
John Cantelo is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Tuesday 25th February 2020, 13:08   #2
wildoat
Registered User

 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: uk
Posts: 47
Interesting question, I know of just a few photographic landscape guides who won't take photos whilst teaching/guiding I guess it depends on what's agreed before hand, presumably if the guide is using time to take their own photos the price of what they offer should/ could be reduced! On the other hand if the guide is employed just to find locations/birds maybe it's different, I suspect there aren't any hard and fast rules and they make it up as they go along, this should be with the agreement from their paying clients perhaps.
wildoat is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Tuesday 25th February 2020, 13:22   #3
opisska
Jan Ebr
 
opisska's Avatar

 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Warszawa
Posts: 2,000
I don't usually take paid guides, but when birding in a groups, I appreciate being around people with cameras - because they can actually show me the bird, including where it is, on the back of the camera. It's fast and exact - I do the same when birding with one of my friends who only carries binos usually and we complement each other really well.

Having a big camera does not necessarily mean going for great pictures - if the guide uses it just as a tool for locating and showing the birds, I think it can be great.
__________________
Birds: world 2170, WP 565, gWP 602, bird photos | Mammals: 260, mammal photos | Herps: 110, herp photos
opisska is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old Tuesday 25th February 2020, 14:56   #4
edenwatcher
Registered User
 
edenwatcher's Avatar

 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Fife
Posts: 3,377
Also part of the guiding "package" can mean clients receiving a trip report at the end illustrated with lots of nice photos...

Rob
edenwatcher is online now  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2007 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Tuesday 25th February 2020, 15:17   #5
John Cantelo
Registered User
 
John Cantelo's Avatar

 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Canterbury, UK
Posts: 6,466
Quote:
Originally Posted by edenwatcher View Post
Also part of the guiding "package" can mean clients receiving a trip report at the end illustrated with lots of nice photos...

Rob
Personally, a trip report with nice photos comes well down my wants list when I've been on a trip particularly if getting the photos means I don't get the service on the trip I might otherwise have done. It's nice but not necessary besides any photos could just as well be provided by clients.
__________________
John

Please support Andalucia Bird Society www.andalusiabirdsociety.org Visit my website & blog on birding in SW Spain at http://birdingcadizprovince.weebly.com/
John Cantelo is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Tuesday 25th February 2020, 15:20   #6
John Cantelo
Registered User
 
John Cantelo's Avatar

 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Canterbury, UK
Posts: 6,466
Quote:
Originally Posted by opisska View Post
I don't usually take paid guides, but when birding in a groups, I appreciate being around people with cameras - because they can actually show me the bird, including where it is, on the back of the camera. It's fast and exact - I do the same when birding with one of my friends who only carries binos usually and we complement each other really well.

Having a big camera does not necessarily mean going for great pictures - if the guide uses it just as a tool for locating and showing the birds, I think it can be great.
An interesting idea but although I regularly go birding with people with long-lens cameras I struggle to think of any occasion when photos were a help in seeing a bird.
__________________
John

Please support Andalucia Bird Society www.andalusiabirdsociety.org Visit my website & blog on birding in SW Spain at http://birdingcadizprovince.weebly.com/
John Cantelo is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Tuesday 25th February 2020, 15:24   #7
edenwatcher
Registered User
 
edenwatcher's Avatar

 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Fife
Posts: 3,377
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Cantelo View Post
Personally, a trip report with nice photos comes well down my wants list when I've been on a trip particularly if getting the photos means I don't get the service on the trip I might otherwise have done. It's nice but not necessary besides any photos could just as well be provided by clients.
Agreed. I have no objection to them taking photos - provided it is not at the expense of clients seeing birds and thier overall experience.

Rob
edenwatcher is online now  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2007 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Tuesday 25th February 2020, 15:35   #8
opisska
Jan Ebr
 
opisska's Avatar

 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Warszawa
Posts: 2,000
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Cantelo View Post
An interesting idea but although I regularly go birding with people with long-lens cameras I struggle to think of any occasion when photos were a help in seeing a bird.
Really? Maybe it's because if you are not used to cheating like this, you can describe the position well using words, unlike myself :) I have had countless situations where seeing what is around the bird really helped me or someone else.
__________________
Birds: world 2170, WP 565, gWP 602, bird photos | Mammals: 260, mammal photos | Herps: 110, herp photos
opisska is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old Tuesday 25th February 2020, 16:31   #9
Farnboro John
Registered User

 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Farnborough
Posts: 15,019
Quote:
Originally Posted by opisska View Post
Really? Maybe it's because if you are not used to cheating like this, you can describe the position well using words, unlike myself :) I have had countless situations where seeing what is around the bird really helped me or someone else.
Yep. Me too, especially when faced with language barriers.

But it does have to be clear that the guide is there to do the work and the time for serious photography is usually after everyone is on the bird, the exception being when a pic is for directions.

One other thing: I don't generally carry a scope, because I have my own big lens: so the guide MUST, except in the uniformly close environment. If they have the muscles to add a massive lens, fine. If not, scope only.

John
Farnboro John is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Tuesday 25th February 2020, 16:58   #10
Paul Chapman
Registered User
 
Paul Chapman's Avatar

 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Clevedon
Posts: 10,166
Quote:
Originally Posted by edenwatcher View Post
Also part of the guiding "package" can mean clients receiving a trip report at the end illustrated with lots of nice photos...

Rob
I have happily consented to my photos being used as part of a tour report. I think that I have gone on three tour company trips but have hired a guide directly a few times for part or once all of a trip.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Cantelo View Post
On a recent birding trip, the tour leader firmly expressed the opinion that, as a professional bird tour leader, he never carried a camera. He argued that people had paid him a lot of money to find and show them birds and that faffing around with a camera would only distract him and compromise his role. Has he got a point or is it an unreasonable demand? I don't think it's a big problem if guides have a handy bridge camera and grab the odd photo but wonder how far those with expensive SLR kits are willing to limit themselves to benefit clients. I've heard stories about some guides seemingly caring more about getting that shot than getting folks onto the bird. So, should (or perhaps do) bird tour companies have a policy on this with a no-camera rule for leaders (unless bird photography is a big element of the trip)? Note that word 'professional', if the leader isn't paid (as I think may sometimes be the case) then I think different rules may apply.
I have been on a tour where the tour leader only had a camera and no bins.

All the best
__________________
Paul Chapman

I've decided to start a self-find list as self-help to reduce my level of self-harm.
Paul Chapman is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Tuesday 25th February 2020, 17:01   #11
Mysticete
Registered User
 
Mysticete's Avatar

 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 3,951
I don't see an issue as long as their priority is still getting folks on a bird and everyone is still having fun. In fact I might actually prefer a guide to have a big fancy camera rig on a pelagic or birding Gambell or something, where getting a record shot might make the difference between a record being a accepted or not
__________________
World: 1195, ABA: 628
Last Lifer: Connecticut Warbler
Last ABA: Connecticut Warbler
Mammal: 233 Herp: 174
Mysticete is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Tuesday 25th February 2020, 17:09   #12
interoception
Registered User

 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Oxfordshire, UK
Posts: 196
My local guide in Sri Lanka did not have binoculars or any optical equipment- just a laser pointer! Seemed to find the birds by their call only!!!
interoception is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Tuesday 25th February 2020, 18:35   #13
Jim M.
Choose Civility

 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: USA
Posts: 6,983
It's common for pro guides to carry cameras in my experience, usually a DSLR. Some tour companies even require it because they want to have photos for the trip report. I have never seen it be a problem though; but I have heard complaints from those on other tours that a guide may get too involved in getting his own shot and forget that he is there to lead the tour.
__________________
My Micro 4/3 birds, insects, & other wildlife photo gallery:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/albums
Jim M. is online now  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2013 2016 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Tuesday 25th February 2020, 20:30   #14
Nightjar61
ABA 600 Club
 
Nightjar61's Avatar

 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Masontown, West Virginia
Posts: 1,582
Iíve been on trips where guides used a camera, and it has never been a problem. The guides on my trips that did photograph birds made sure everyone got on the bird and saw it to their satisfaction. Only then did they take their pictures. And as has been said, itís nice getting good photos as part of the trip report. One guide even sent a CD with all his photos to the participants.

The problem arises when other tour participants are photography fanatics. Theyíre only interested in getting the perfect shot and they tend to make the trip rather unpleasant for others. Their behavior that I have experienced has included pushing their way in front of others, blocking the views of other participants, and holding up the group. Of course, a good guide will try to tactfully nip that in the bud.

And I have no problem when tour participants take pictures. I even try to take some myself, but I consider myself an amateur and am on the trip mainly to see the birds. Itís the abuse of the privilege that bothers me.

I have noticed that some of the birding tour companies are starting to offer bird photography trips, which should be perfect for the person who considers himself a photographer before a birder.

Dave
__________________
Latest World Lifer (No. 2,532): Mountain Trogon, 3/12/20
Latest ABA Lifer (No. 659): Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, 10/27/19
Latest West Virginia Lifer (No. 290): Yellow-headed Blackbird, 8/17/20
Latest Preston County Lifer (No. 243): Sanderling, 9/10/20
Nightjar61 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Tuesday 25th February 2020, 23:12   #15
Jeff hopkins
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Pennsylvania, USA
Posts: 6,887
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim M. View Post
It's common for pro guides to carry cameras in my experience, usually a DSLR. Some tour companies even require it because they want to have photos for the trip report. I have never seen it be a problem though; but I have heard complaints from those on other tours that a guide may get too involved in getting his own shot and forget that he is there to lead the tour.
I have experienced that. In fact, I was on a tour where none of the clients were really interested in photography, but the leader was. After we'd seen a bird well, he was still taking pictures while we were ready to move on.
Jeff hopkins is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Wednesday 26th February 2020, 06:48   #16
Farnboro John
Registered User

 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Farnborough
Posts: 15,019
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nightjar61 View Post
The problem arises when other tour participants are photography fanatics. Theyíre only interested in getting the perfect shot and they tend to make the trip rather unpleasant for others. Their behavior that I have experienced has included pushing their way in front of others, blocking the views of other participants, and holding up the group. Of course, a good guide will try to tactfully nip that in the bud.

And I have no problem when tour participants take pictures. I even try to take some myself, but I consider myself an amateur and am on the trip mainly to see the birds. Itís the abuse of the privilege that bothers me.

Dave
You left out charging straight at the bird and flushing it before others have even seen it, let alone got their own shots.... and yes it can be a problem. One participant on a tour I was on was nicknamed "Stormtrooper" on Day One! Some straight talking sorted him out but occasional reminders were required. Everybody is eager but respect for others is essential.

John
Farnboro John is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Wednesday 26th February 2020, 07:02   #17
Euan Buchan
The Edinburgh Birdwatcher
BF Supporter 2020
 
Euan Buchan's Avatar

 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Edinburgh UK
Posts: 5,404
I've only been on one Birding tour that was in Madeira. The guide used Binoculars and a telescope and allowed us to have a look.
__________________
Visit The Edinburgh Birdwatcher's Website

www.theedinburghbirdwatcher.com
Euan Buchan is offline  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Wednesday 26th February 2020, 07:37   #18
rosbifs
Registered User

 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Luz St Sauveur, France
Posts: 4,277
Quote:
Originally Posted by Euan Buchan View Post
I've only been on one Birding tour that was in Madeira. The guide used Binoculars and a telescope and allowed us to have a look.
I would hope so!

My philosophy, and I do guide in the Pyrenees, is that I have the camera for exceptional circumstances. The 'clients' have not paid to see me taking photos or to look at them.

I have used the camera to take a picture of a distant area or nest and then zoom in to help clients find a specific bird or animal.

I have used the camera to take a picture of a distant bird to confirm id.

I have taken a picture of a rarity for recording purposes.

The photos are the clients memories not mine - although I still get pleasure from finding and seeing the birds...

I carry the scope and the tripod (I generally lend another couple out), my bins and ensure that the clients all get the opportunity to see the birds through the scope or at least through their bins and take their pictures if they have cameras....
rosbifs is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old Wednesday 26th February 2020, 08:20   #19
Farnboro John
Registered User

 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Farnborough
Posts: 15,019
Quote:
Originally Posted by rosbifs View Post
I would hope so!

My philosophy, and I do guide in the Pyrenees, is that I have the camera for exceptional circumstances. The 'clients' have not paid to see me taking photos or to look at them.

I have used the camera to take a picture of a distant area or nest and then zoom in to help clients find a specific bird or animal.

I have used the camera to take a picture of a distant bird to confirm id.

I have taken a picture of a rarity for recording purposes.

The photos are the clients memories not mine - although I still get pleasure from finding and seeing the birds...

I carry the scope and the tripod (I generally lend another couple out), my bins and ensure that the clients all get the opportunity to see the birds through the scope or at least through their bins and take their pictures if they have cameras....
You're hired.....

John
Farnboro John is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Wednesday 26th February 2020, 23:58   #20
Jeff hopkins
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Pennsylvania, USA
Posts: 6,887
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nightjar61 View Post
Iíve been on trips where guides used a camera, and it has never been a problem. The guides on my trips that did photograph birds made sure everyone got on the bird and saw it to their satisfaction. Only then did they take their pictures. And as has been said, itís nice getting good photos as part of the trip report. One guide even sent a CD with all his photos to the participants.

The problem arises when other tour participants are photography fanatics. Theyíre only interested in getting the perfect shot and they tend to make the trip rather unpleasant for others. Their behavior that I have experienced has included pushing their way in front of others, blocking the views of other participants, and holding up the group. Of course, a good guide will try to tactfully nip that in the bud.

And I have no problem when tour participants take pictures. I even try to take some myself, but I consider myself an amateur and am on the trip mainly to see the birds. Itís the abuse of the privilege that bothers me.

I have noticed that some of the birding tour companies are starting to offer bird photography trips, which should be perfect for the person who considers himself a photographer before a birder.

Dave
The other thing is that many tour companies are now explicitly stating that the tours are birding first with photography coming second. And reiterating that at the start of the tour. Of course not all photographers have the instructions sink in on the first attempt.

I did have a recent trip where a photographer got to the one narrow spot in the forest where the bird could be seen and started snapping away before everyone had seen it (and there were only 5 of us!). A not so subtle smack on the shoulder with a hissed "Let everyone see it first!" gave him the message.

On another trip where the photographers blocked some patrons from seeing a challenging bird, the leader threatened to ban cameras if the photographers did it a second time.
Jeff hopkins is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Thursday 27th February 2020, 10:48   #21
John Cantelo
Registered User
 
John Cantelo's Avatar

 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Canterbury, UK
Posts: 6,466
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nightjar61 View Post
The guides on my trips that did photograph birds made sure everyone got on the bird and saw it to their satisfaction. Only then did they take their pictures.

Dave
Whilst everyone may have seen the bird to their satisfaction it still means that, whilst taking photos, the guide isn't focussed on finding other birds ....
__________________
John

Please support Andalucia Bird Society www.andalusiabirdsociety.org Visit my website & blog on birding in SW Spain at http://birdingcadizprovince.weebly.com/
John Cantelo is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Thursday 27th February 2020, 11:43   #22
Mysticete
Registered User
 
Mysticete's Avatar

 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 3,951
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Cantelo View Post
Whilst everyone may have seen the bird to their satisfaction it still means that, whilst taking photos, the guide isn't focussed on finding other birds ....
Depending on where they are birding, they might be heavily reliant on bird song, which can be listened for while snapping photos.
__________________
World: 1195, ABA: 628
Last Lifer: Connecticut Warbler
Last ABA: Connecticut Warbler
Mammal: 233 Herp: 174
Mysticete is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Thursday 27th February 2020, 19:28   #23
jurek
Registered User
 
jurek's Avatar

 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Switzerland/Poland
Posts: 4,397
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nightjar61 View Post
The problem arises when other tour participants are photography fanatics.
Professional bird photography is very different from birdwatching. The good way is to say at the beginning that the trip is for bird watching not photography. Do not try to mix things.

I was on a trip with two experienced bird photographers. They ignored rare birds if they were not close and good for a photo. They wanted to spend hours with common birds just because they were in a perfect position and lighting. So, half an hour with a Spotted Dove on a dirt road – as common as Collared Dove in Europe. If they blocked others views or others were waiting for them - the outside world simply ceased to exist. They soon found a place with a large group of Chinese photographers and stayed there happily.

In the meantime, I stopped taking a professional camera in the field. I realized that I have no time to show the photos to my friends, but even I have no interest in re-watching them myself. I snap memories and document photos with my mobile phone, which is as good as a pro camera 10 years ago.

Last edited by jurek : Thursday 27th February 2020 at 19:30.
jurek is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Thursday 27th February 2020, 20:30   #24
Nightjar61
ABA 600 Club
 
Nightjar61's Avatar

 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Masontown, West Virginia
Posts: 1,582
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Cantelo View Post
Whilst everyone may have seen the bird to their satisfaction it still means that, whilst taking photos, the guide isn't focussed on finding other birds ....
It still wasnít a problem. A few quick clicks of the camera and then on to the next bird. A few seconds at most. And unless youíre in the middle of a mixed-species flock or ant swarm, thereís often a lull between birds, even in the tropics.

Dave
__________________
Latest World Lifer (No. 2,532): Mountain Trogon, 3/12/20
Latest ABA Lifer (No. 659): Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, 10/27/19
Latest West Virginia Lifer (No. 290): Yellow-headed Blackbird, 8/17/20
Latest Preston County Lifer (No. 243): Sanderling, 9/10/20
Nightjar61 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Thursday 27th February 2020, 22:27   #25
MKinHK
Mike Kilburn
 
MKinHK's Avatar

 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Hong Kong
Posts: 4,696
More and more birds, especially forest species, from organised tours are being seen from a hide at a water hole or feeding station where finding birds is not hard. In such situations I'm not sure it matters that much.

15 years ago when guiding a private tour in Southern China I was told by the client he wished I'd spent more time to photograph some of the birds - I had a rudimentary handheld digiscope setup that had a truly abysmal success rate, but I did get one image of lasting value.

Cheers
Mike
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	S Oriole OBpix.jpg
Views:	103
Size:	448.0 KB
ID:	719526  
__________________
Hong Kong:Kloss's Warbler, Chinese Barbet, Common Cuckoo (481)
Greater China: Glossy Ibis, Japanese Night Heron, Kloss's Warbler (976)
Lifer: Cackling Goose, Ridgeway's Rail, Kloss's Warbler

Last edited by MKinHK : Thursday 27th February 2020 at 22:32.
MKinHK is online now  
Reply With Quote
Advertisement
Reply


Thread Tools
Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
New Lumix Leica 50-200mm professional lens ammadoux Panasonic 9 Friday 4th May 2018 12:26
Madagascar Tour Guides - Nov. 2016 Bokmakierie99 Vacational Trip Reports 2 Monday 18th December 2017 18:34
New Video: Bird photography tour Thailand, Wild Bird Eco Tour (added by edy) BirdForum TV BirdForum TV Discussion 0 Friday 31st January 2014 06:20
New Video: Birding Tour Thailand,Wild Bird Eco Tour (added by rich_a) BirdForum TV BirdForum TV Discussion 0 Friday 27th December 2013 11:15
Birding Tour Guides in Los Angeles? Silverwolf California 0 Tuesday 23rd August 2011 01:29

{googleads}

Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites

Help support BirdForum

Page generated in 0.15847111 seconds with 40 queries
All times are GMT. The time now is 16:14.