[Tweeters] Current Issue of Audubon Magazine-Photography

Marc Hoffman tweeters at dartfrogmedia.com
Sun Jan 26 09:52:41 PST 2014

I want to share a perspective that is mostly (not entirely) separate
from ethics and aesthetics.

To begin, I consider a photograph to be an abstraction. It's not real.

Even what we think we see "with our own eyes" is not real. Our brain
notices some details and ignores others, to creating a picture we
commonly accept as reality. The camera is a whole big step removed
from this eye-to-brain process.

For one thing, a camera is not a human eye. It does not see the way
the eye sees, nor can it replicate the acuity of the human eye for
seeing detail and color. Even if it could, in the end you'll be
looking at a print or a video monitor, not a bird in nature.

Most folks are not aware that digital cameras necessitate
modification of the image after it's shot.

For example, they require sharpening the edges of shapes or else they
will look unnaturally blurry. Sometimes the camera adds this
sharpening, other times it must be done post-camera.

The last I heard, no camera can reproduce, in a single exposure, the
range of dark-to-light that the human eye can discern. If you want
your photo to look "natural," you usually must adjust the levels of
darks, lights, and mid values.

And every lens design includes compromises that distort shapes and
colors. Some post-shot correction makes the image more accurate.

All these factors are about accuracy and compensating for the
inherent limitations of the camera.

My goal in bird photography is to convey a human experience, not to
replicate nature. For the above reasons (and others), I always adjust
my "keeper" images. For example:
- I usually crop my images, because the camera is a fixed frame,
whereas the brain chooses what to pay attention to.
- I add sharpening
- I adjust the light levels and contrast for the entire image and/or
areas of the image. As pointed out above, I can rarely get a single
exposure that shows details in both shaded and highly-lit areas. So I
might subtly lighten a bird's face that's in shadow.
- Occasionally, I remove background objects. What's the point in
presenting a shockingly beautiful closeup of a Belted Kingfisher with
a stick protruding from the top of its head?
This is a good conversation to be having. For myself, the primary
consideration is whether the photo helps people connect with the
subject. If it looks contrived, it will fail in that regard, even if
there was no digital manipulation. If it carries impact but still
feels natural, I'm not so concerned about digital enhancement.

Except, of course, for the Jackalope post cards (see
http://tinyurl.com/mczx58). That's where I draw the line :)

Marc Hoffman
Kirkland, WA
tweeters at dartfrogmedia.com

At 05:16 PM 1/25/2014, ELIZABETH THOMPSON wrote:

>Oh how I debate this with myself. I love photographing birds. I have

>had some really nice shots and some really bad ones. Mostly focus.

>I do crop my pics sometimes but that is all i have ever done. I

>recall last summer taking photos with a similar camera and lens as

>some other birder/photographers and my pics looked not so nice as

>theirs. We were at a birding outing at the same time.

>I can only assume a couple things. Better at stabilization, better

>camera equipment or better at photoshopping.

>More than likely the first two options.


>Either way, I still take pictures of birds and every once in a

>while, I get a nice shot.

>Happily birding,

>Beth Thompson

>Arlington, WA



>On Jan 25, 2014, at 9:04 AM, ck park

><<mailto:travelgirl.fics at gmail.com> travelgirl.fics at gmail.com> wrote:


>>I suppose it depends on your definition of "photograph" versus

>>"digital image".


>>mine definition? if i clone away dust bunnies, crop, or maybe

>>apply a bit of sharpness, to me it's still a photograph. the image

>>is as i saw it.

>>if, however, i alter the shape(s) of something, alter colours

>>(obvious saturation, HDR, etc) and/or clone away distracting poles,

>>buildings, trees, etc, what you would see is no longer as i saw it,

>>and therefore, while it may be beautiful, interesting, etc, it is a

>>digital image, an interpretation that is no longer a photograph.


>>this definition is mine, and while shared by many, is not a

>>universal definition. as well, some folks today believe

>>"photograph" == "digital image", that there may be no inherent

>>difference between the two.


>>your mileage may vary.


>>00 caren


>>george davis creek, north fork



>>On 25 January 2014 03:04,

>><<mailto:notcalm at comcast.net>notcalm at comcast.net> wrote:

>>Hello Fellow Tweeters,

>>There is an interesting discussion regarding alteration of bird

>>photographs and rules for the Annual Photo Contest in the current

>>issue (January, 2014) of Audubon magazine. A great image was

>>disqualified. I am interested in what Tweeter's community members

>>think. I think it is an interesting question.

>>Many of our best single images of birds and humans are now modified

>>and enhanced to varying degrees. This a now a routine practice for

>>images of female models in fashion magazines. The controversies in

>>many fields, including bird photography include: when should it be

>>disclosed; at what level of change, including enhancement; and what

>>image enhancements should be considered in photo contests. The

>>Audubon Editor asks for feedback.


>>Dan Reiff

>>Mercer Island


>>Tweeters mailing list

>><mailto:Tweeters at u.washington.edu>Tweeters at u.washington.edu





>>Tweeters mailing list

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