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Steve Foss

Black and white warbler in habitat (C&C please)

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I was out slogging through bog country this morning trying to locate a wolf pack and had to sit down and rest on a piece of high ground. You'll understand the need to catch your breath if you've ever tried to hike through a black spruce/tamarack bog with 40 lbs of gear on your back. Pishing brought this black and white warbler into a branch on a black spruce draped with lichen. A quintessential boreal habitat.

Luckily, my breathing had evened out by then and the light had moderated after a passing rain shower.

I've never been a big fan of bird-on-a-stick (BOAS), though I do it now and then for fun and for the satisfaction of managing a scene and producing a fine portrait, as well as enjoying the many fine images I see produced that way. And not trying to start a debate, either, just that I like images of birds in habitat (BIH) better. So I was very happy to get this one, which definitely says as much about the surrounds and the geographic region of the capture as it does about the bird.

Now, I'd like your honest opinions and critique. Is this an honest BIH shot to you, or have I just labeled it BIH to make excuses for the somewhat distracting background and foreground branches? It's obvious that I like it, but do you? Would you like it better if I cloned off all the background OOF branches and put in that mossy pale gray/green color for a background?

Never did find those wolves. Another day! gringrin

Canon 30D, Canon 400 f5.6L, iso400, 1/200 at f5.6, monopod, 30 percent cropped off, bird and in-focus lichen/branch selectively sharpened, and Noise Ninja and a light gaussian blur applied to everything else.

2580632779_3269319916_o.jpg

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Honestly Steve, I like it as is. You took the photo as is, where it's at and in it's natural surroundings. I agree that "staged" photos are pretty, but they're usually not really natural. This one was captured in it's natural habitat. This is where a person can expect to find them, in a tree or bush with other trees and bushes surrounding them. Personally, I don't find anything that distracting in the photo. If a branch was across his body or head, then it would be a distraction. I consider this shot "clean" and natural.

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Thanks, Stu and Mike. I appreciate your comments.

Here's a yellow-rumped warbler from the same time period this morning, in slightly different habitat.

Same techs, give or take.

2581084961_19ff90577f_o.jpg

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I think if you really want an answer you should post on Naturescapes or BPN. I like it personally and I think the comp is good as well.

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I like those type of BIH photos, as long as you don't lose the subject in the background, and the bokah here certainly lets the B and W stand out.

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Thanks, Mike and Ken, for looking and commenting.

I posted it here with the inquiry I did because I want to know what folks here think. This is my home. I'm also a member of an international nature photographers' network and have posted it there as well. I don't go much to BPN anymore, even though I'm a paying member, because there's only so much time in the day. I have only looked in on naturescapes now and then.

And, well, to be honest, I don't think feedback from dedicated avian photographers is very helpful unless there are technical issues to address (then the advice is top-notch). No offense to them, but when it comes to what makes a compelling avian photograph they pretty much all sing from the same hymnal. They are generally intolerant of those who sing off key.

But I might try it over on one of those. If nothing else, it'll be fun to see how things go. smile

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Super nice Steve!....Habitat shots are my favorites!bar none!....98% of my images are in a natural habitat....few birds from the feeders at the blue spruce road but not many!....sweet images!...I think I have a "black and white" myself from a few weeks ago.....I managed a few captures of a "king bird" earlier today(Arkola Road)....post it later....not much critiquing from this guy!...tough enough to even get 1 photo of these jumpy birds let alone a perfect one grin

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I like them both very much. For a person such as myself, you don't get to see these birds in their natural environment very often. These are both very nice compositions and BIH shots IMO.

Thanks for sharing

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I like it as is too because I am not a BOAS type of guy either. Both images are great.

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I like them also. I can also second you feeling on slogging through the bogs today. I spent about 5 hours wandering around some pretty wet areas, only to realize that my new tamrac backpack is much heavier than anticipated when full and my boots arn't so water proof.

I like the birds when in their enviroment.

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I like the shots Steve, the background in both I think looks great. My issue is with the cropping and a tighter shot of the bird. These things are sooooo subjective so I would hesitate to even comment but you asked.

The first I would take some off the bottom to get rid of the OOF branch, and a bit of the left side to get rid of the branch that is going up and left of the photo. My eye goes to the bird looking left at that branch and it continues off the photo.

The second shot I'm not so sure of. I think the bird is lost in the background somewhat, if you crop much tighter you lose some of that beautiful background. Possibly more of a vertical crop would make the bird stand out for me.

I like birds shots in the natural environment, as long as the main focus is still on the subject and the background only enhances the image and gives us a sense of the habitat it would be found. Again these things are very subjective, what works for me might be something completely different for you. What really matters is the fact you think they are fine and if for commercial purposes what will a client think?

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The first I would crop some off the bottom to get rid of the OOF branch, and a bit of the left side to get rid of the branch that is going up and left of the photo. My eye goes to the bird looking left at that branch and it continues off the photo.

Now that Dan pointed it out, I do have to agree about the OOF branch in front, but I disagree with the statement regarding the bird looking at the branch on the left. In my eyes, he's looking over the top of the branch, due to the tilt of his head. In other words, the branch on the left can stay or go. It doesn't affect the photo, from my viewpoint. But, we all see things differently.

But then, if you would crop some off the bottom, you'd almost have to crop some off the left too, to keep the proper dimensions.

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Stf, I think the two methods of taking the pictures are both OK, kind of like portraits or candids of people.

I drift in favor of bird in natural habitat shots becauce it makes me feel like I am a part of his world, instead of the bird being in my world. My 2 cents.

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