[Tweeters] Birds and photography - a new study (Really??)

Monte Taylor tsuru88 at gmail.com
Fri Apr 1 12:50:54 PDT 2016

Interesting to read these posts on how birds react to being photographed.

I've been an avid wildlife photographer now for over 51 years. It has been
a passion of mine and have spent many thousands of hours photographing
mostly the species here in the US along with eastern Asia and other areas
in the world. What I've found with my experience, and possibly this may
provide some actual field experience insight vs. some British bird study
and report, is that birds are much like people. I give the example often
to people of walking up to a stranger, reaching out to shake their hand,
and then seeing the reaction that person takes. Do they reach out and
shake my hand, or do they stand their motionless, or as some, even lean
back some away from my outstretched hand? Birds (and most animals) I've
found in over 50 years of actively photographing nature and wildlife are
very much the exact same way. Maybe these Brits found a group of birds that
are ones that immediately act like Movie Stars and reach out their hands
(feet) for a handshake. Who knows.

But, in photography, ALL photographers (and unfortunately aside from these
Brits results conclusions) should take care and consideration when
photographing. One person said, oh, don't buy a lens as a lighter
footprint on birds territories, but it's not about the lens, it's about the
person USING it. Watching a birds (animals) behavior when you begin to
approach, whether or not to look with a scope, binocular, or take a photo,
should take into consideration how the bird appears to react to this. We
(all birders in general) do this all the time with a scope or binocular,
but it seems that too many, way too many photographers, want a full frame
shot of something! With todays camera megapixel sizes, and even smaller
lenses, you DO NOT need to be right up on the bird to get a decent shot

We just returned from Costa Rica where I was watching folks even with 400mm
lenses, getting right up on Fiery-throated Hummingbirds at minimum focusing
distance of the lens, just to have a Full Frame photo. I asked this one
person why he felt he needed to get that close and got "because I want a
full frame shot"! And, it happens it was affecting the hummers there at
that feeder immensely. Perfect example of the "it's all about me" world we
live in now. We coexist, we do not OWN this world and all that resides

Same goes with birders just using their binocular or scopes. Watched
several people many times over a 6 hour period at a Rufous-backed Robin in
Arizona once go literally right up to the edge of this large bush/tree to
stare in with their binoculars to see if they could get a look at the
bird. NONE did. I had stood 25 feet back from that bush, standing behind
my tripod and lens, for all those hours and the robin came out only twice
barely in view. Pressing that particular bird (and there are relative
characteristics to different species as well to how skittish or
accommodating they may be - only a generality of course) caused nobody to
see it unless they stood well back from that bush and be patient and wait.
Works extremely well most all times vs. crowding it too. You don't know
how many times I've watched birders / photographers come and go without
seeing something because they 'had' to go sooner than wait.

Bottom line, use common sense and consideration. You DO NOT HAVE TO HAVE A
FULL FRAME shot of anything. I say this truly as I sell my images that are
found in many books and publications, you DO NOT need full frame shots! And
watch the species you are about to photograph for awhile. Do not look them
straight in the eye, but through your peripheral vision, and work up ever
so slowly pausing immediately if they show any sign of skittishness.
Proceed closer, again, only when they appear to be comfortable with your
approach. You'll be amazed at how close you may be able to get to a bird /
animal you are wanting closer looks (photo) of. And if you do get close,
it won't be because of some 'study' but because that particular individual
felt comfortable with you getting closer.

Just hope that this 'study' by these Brits doesn't exacerbate the problems
I see in the field all the time of photographers nowadays (and I am, yes, a
photographer, but not the type I see all too often harassing birds/animals)
pushing a species way too hard. You can accept this 'study' and just go
out and push all you want, but in my field experience over all these years
I have a real hard time swallowing this 'study' results as birds just love
to have people push them to the limits all day because they just want you
to see how beautiful they are!!!!!


Monte Taylor
Tustin Ranch, CA



Monte M. Taylor (蒙特·泰勒)
Tustin Ranch, CA

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