Just a quick little reminder that the Wildlife & Nature Pictures application that I have for iPad and iPhone contains 46 free full resolution images available for download and personal use. The application is a free download too. Counting it all up that means that there are 46 nature and wildlife images at no cost to you! When last I checked, that is less than a cup of coffee.
Wildlife & Nature Pictures is available world-wide in the Apple App store and is translated to Spanish with more languages coming soon.
You can download your free copy today at the link below or search for app id #595565558 outside the US.
I have always been in the camp that says that bird calls are not as effective as most people would like to think. For me it is a simple fact humans are almost never going to pull the wool over the eyes of any wild creature in their natural habitat. What I am saying is if you are thinking that you are sneaking up on a bird unnoticed you best think again. Birds are always aware of your presence, the trick is in making them comfortable with you being around. Along those same lines I came to the conclusion that birds are smart enough to decipher a fake call.
But times, they are a changing and in pursuit of any advantage it is time to visit the subject and ask the question of just how effective can a call be. First stop as usual is the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and as expected they don’t get into how to attract birds much but have loads of info about bird sounds and what the sounds mean.
Birds communicate for many reasons, including to
- impress and attract a mate
- declare territorial boundaries
- identify family members
- announce the presence of a predator
- convey information about food
I find myself dangerously close to the other side, the darker side as it is, the side that watches and only watches birds, stepping out of the photography world I found a wonderful article by the National parks traveler. According to them it works like a charm but is really not a good practice. You are probably best off to read the whole article for yourself here. The practice of “playback” is akin to ” someone pounding on your door threatening to steal your wife and burn your house down“. A little extreme but the rationale is that birds find the call to be another that is invading its territory. Even if they believe it to be less than genuine, the threat is too big to ignore. It should be easy to imagine the stress this can cause the local wildlife. I am a tad bit smarter now but I guess nothing has changed and I think the only experimentation I will do with calls is in my own yard where the birds are essentially domesticated.
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About this photo: This Osprey was photographed at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Huntington Beach California. If you click on the image the larger picture clearly shows that it has been tagged and the left leg has been shaved. There are tags on both legs also which indicates to me that this bird may have been recently released into the wild. I had first seen the Osprey six months prior to this photo and on numerous occasions afterward for at least a year. Difficult to photograph because they usually perch far from the ground. A skilled fisherman this bird can catch fish of a rather large size. It always returns to its high perch and in about a half an hour eats the entire fish. The fish you see in the picture is actually one of the smaller ones I have seen it pull out of the sea. The photo below is from the first time I saw the Osprey and you can see it was tagged at that time. It was taken with what considered to be a very soft lens and detail is not very good.
Getting back to the discussion a few weeks ago about feathers, I was wondering about tail feathers and what they do. Tail feathers are part of the flight feathers. Flight feathers encompass the primaries, secondaries, those are the wing flight feathers and the others are the tail feathers or rectrices. Those feathers act as a rudder, they control steering and balance. I should say that they help control the steering because if you remember the primaries are also critical for attitude and that is critical factor of steering in flight. Birds have ten to twelve tail feathers. According to Wikipedia:
Rectrices (from the Latin for “helmsman”), which help the bird to brake and steer in flight, lie in a single horizontal row on the rear margin of the anatomical tail. Only the central pair are attached (via ligaments) to the tail bones; the remaining rectrices are embedded into the rectricial bulbs, complex structures of fat and muscle that surround those bones. Rectrices are always paired, with a vast majority of species having six pairs. They are absent in grebes and some ratites, and greatly reduced in size in penguins. Manygrouse species have more than 12 rectrices; some (including Ruffed Grouse and Hazel Grouse) have a number that varies among individuals.Domestic pigeons have a highly variable number, due to centuries of selective breeding.
OK folks-that’s it for today. Just a couple of things to note between the two pictures, the good one was made in the winter and the other was made in June on one of the longest days of that year. One was made with the Tamron 200-500mm lens a good lens but the other with the amazing Nikon 300mm f2.8. It shows that it really pays to invest in good gear and to have the patience and desire to wait for the good moments, and know the behaviors of your subject.
Thanks for stopping by.
This post marks the 100th episode of the Diary of a Bird Shooter Blog. For over 2 years now I have been trying to relay my experiences and photography knowledge I have picked up along the way. It has been great, but it is now time to do away with the “Look what I can Do” mindset and transition into a more polished, responsible and hopefully more informative role. A while back I wrote a story titled “So Say You- Truth About Zoos”, you can read it here. Today I feel the need to moderate some of my views expressed in that post.
Juan Pons is a wildlife photographer whose work I admire very much. He is very passionate about never photographing animals in captivity. I have met Juan and I am certain that his passion is sincere but I do have my reservations. He directs us to a wonderfully detailed story from the Audubon Magazine titled “Picture Perfect”. It is a story about the realities of photographing wildlife from game farms and the business of distributing and selling images made from captive wildlife. You need to read it here. As you might expect photographing captive animals it is viewed in a negative light. I know there are crazy over the top environmentalists out there whose sole purpose in life is to separate nature from humanity. I have always held a grudge against those people, but the thought of applying journalistic standards to wildlife photography seems to have great merit.
I don’t think the line is as clear as we would all like those standards to be though. I know a lot of us want to do the right thing but can be duped, some of us would like to do the right thing but don’t always do it, and a few of us don’t care about the right thing, they just want what they want. Then the bigger problem is What exactly is the right thing? For example, I have photographed a number of birds that are rescue animals, they would not be alive if it were not for their “captors”. Is that over the line? I get nervous when I see giraffes in a compound only about a quarter of a football field in size but I have also photographed small birds that were kept in an enclosure the size of a football stadium. Is that really considered captive?..and on the other side of the coin I have photographed birds in the wild that were so tame and domesticated that you could literally pet them.
As with many things there is no absolute right and wrong, but the important thing is that we all think about what we are doing. To understand that it is not responsible to get the shot by any means necessary. I am not one for full disclosure of captive images either. I think it is in conflict with virtually every other genre of photography (except journalism) where greatest reward is given to those who create a look or illusion to the viewer’s eye and mind through lighting, staging, and post production. Perhaps the better solution is to be mindful that such images should convey the proper context of the surroundings.
As we think about these things we all need to set our own personal policies and standards and live within them. The big thing to remember is that you really can do whatever you want with very little consequence but as I like to say a lot now “The Best Way To Get Good is By Being Good”. After giving it a lot of consideration I am leaning in the same direction as Juan.
I hope this gives you all some food for thought, and thanks to Juan Pons for his wonderful real life wildlife images and to Audubon Magazine for the great story, and thanks to everyone who is reading the blog. Here is to the next hundred!!
You can see more of my bird images at www.ronboyddesign.com
I bought my first SLR because I wanted to have some decent images to post on E-bay. It didn’t take long to find out that I still take really bad photos even with better gear. In my quest to learn composition and exposure I started following the works of the great Scott Bourne who, in my opinion, is one of the premier avian photographers of our time. Scott’s images are absolutely stunning yet still doable in my mind. That is when I set out to make perfect bird images. Little did I know!
Fast forward a few years and I am just a tad closer to making those perfect images. I remember when I first thought I knew my favorite lens like the back of my hand, I was really only about a quarter of the way there. When I downloaded all my user’s manuals to my iPad and started reading them regularly, I inched a little closer, and when I started to look up info on every new bird I saw I at least knew I was on the right track. Seems like there is always some great challenge in bird photography. A challenge just to be there, to get close enough, to be fast enough, to be patient enough, and of course to understand what any bird is going to do on any particular day. It’s not easy. No one said it would be but still I thought I would soon make that perfect photo.
Like many I suppose, I would love to be one of those pros traveling around the world shooting exotic animals. From time to time that vision helps keep me warm at night, but really? I am ready a pro at what I do. Sometimes I wonder if somewhere there is some person with visions of doing what I do. It could happen.
Somewhere along the line I think I became more of an advocate for the Avian world. To tell their story. It may be a first time introduction or a chance to show the shear beauty and grace of these animals in great detail. For some people it is a story that documents behavior and characteristics. There are those who don’t have access to the great outdoors who can now appreciate the beauty of flight or the color of plumage. Then, from time to time there is the story, or rather the lessons, of the circle of life and the unwanted touch of man. These are the stories I can tell all day long.
Now that I think of it, in that context, it’s not so hard to make the perfect photo!
Capture from last week. “The Mighty Osprey” at liftoff. Notice that this bird has been tagged. I wonder how hard it is to catch a bird like the Osprey without injuring it?