You Be The Judge: Digital « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

You Be The Judge: Digital

You Be the Judge: Digital Creations

The judging for the BIRDS AS ART 1st International Bird Photography Competition is complete. All of the judges including me were stunned by the quality of the images. We will be posting all of the images that were sent to the judges in each category. Each of you will have a chance to judge these images one group at a time. Please read the directions below carefully. Your votes will not determine the winning images but it will be fun to see how everyone’s votes compare to the votes of the judges.

Below are the nineteen images in the Digital Creations category that were sent to the five judges: Darrell Gulin, Chris Van Rooyen, Julie Zickefoose, Tim Laman (who filled in for a honey-mooning Andy Rouse), and yours truly. Here is another big time thank you to Darrell, Chris, Julie, and Tim. And a big time thanks also to Peter Kes and Denise Ippolito for helping me choose the images that were sent to the judges. We worked very hard for nearly three full days to get from more than 5500 images down to the final 163.

The Digital Creations category was defined as “anything goes including the use of filters and effects as long as there is a bird or birds in the image.” It turned out to be a very popular category especially among the BirdPhotographers.Net folks who spend time in the Out-of-the-Box Forum where Denise Ippolito has led by example as the #1 moderator for several years.

Before you vote, please click on each image to view it at full size. Then pick your five favorites and vote them 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 with 5 being your very favorite. Like this:

Flamingo filter-feeding: 5
Gadwall preening: 4
Great Horned Owl landing: 3
Brown Pelican on netting: 2
Chickadee: 1

The “Sample Vote” values above are for illustrative purposes only. Please do not let the sample vote, the vote’s of others, or the names assigned to the images influence your vote. Please put each of your five favorites on its own line by hitting “enter” after each one. No ties; please assign a single digit, 5, 4, 3, 2 or 1 to each of your five favorites. As you will see there are a great many beautiful and creative images here.

If you wish to comment on any or all of the images, please do so below your five voting lines; this will make tallying the votes easier. Votes cast by those who fail to follow the formatting directions will be relegated to the Trash Bin.

A tally of the public vote along with the actual winning images for each category will be announced approximately 48 hours after each posting.

Flamingo group


Waterbird flight


Young Brown Pelican landing


Great Blue Heron


White Pelican squadron


Marbled Godwit


Yellow-rumped Warbler art


Common Tern


Bearded Barbet Fractalius


Coot chicks


Filter-feeding Flamingo


Gadwall preening


Great Horned Owl landing


Brown Pelican on netting




Wood Stork line-up


Peacock displaying


Snow Geese blast-off


Paint drop avian sculpture

122 comments to You Be The Judge: Digital

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Thanks to Peter Kes for closing the comments here while I was en route to Trinidad and Tobago with Denise Ippolito. Results coming soon.

  • avatar ann cooper

    5 – common tern
    4 – flamingo group
    3 – great horned owl
    2 – gadwall preening
    1 – woodstork lineup

  • avatar Katja Zuske

    These are all great works but I don’t know how you will judge this category!! I won’t try because for me, this one is so much more about taste than the other categories. I love the chickadee and the marbled godwit and the yellow-rumped warbler similarly and all for very different reasons and I think ultimately, I would be curious as a judge how much work went into them. Is it a real digital “creation” or was a prefab filter with some tweaks applied?
    Anyway, I am very curious to see the results and hear the panels explanations why they decided the way they did. It would also be great to hear from the artist how they got to the final result (without telling all their secrets, of course πŸ˜‰

  • If it’s not too late:

    5 – Wood Stork Lineup
    4 – White Pelican Squadron
    3 – Great Blue Heron
    2 – Great Horned Owl Landing
    1 – Waterbird Flight

  • avatar Anna

    5 Flamingo Group
    4 Common Tern
    3 Great Blue Heron
    2 Gadwall Preening
    1 Woodstork Lineup

  • avatar Paul Thomas

    Filter-feeding Flamingo: 5
    Chickadee: 4
    Wood Stork Lineup: 3
    Gadwall Preening: 2
    Passerine Species: No Clue!: 1

    The unidentified passerine species is a Bearded Barbet found in the Sahel region of West Africa!

    Thanks a stack Paul for the ID. artie

  • avatar Arla

    5 white pelican squadron
    4 Flamingo group
    3 Chickadee
    2 Wood stork lineup
    1 Marbled godwit

  • Very creative, nice job!

    5 – Yellow-rumped Warbler art
    4 – White Pelican sqadron
    3 – Flamingo group
    2 – Common Tern
    1 – Paint drop avain sculpture

  • avatar Jennie Stock

    Great blue heron: 5
    Marbled godwit: 4
    Yellow-rumped warbler art: 3
    Brown pelican on netting: 2
    Paint drop avian sculpture: 1

  • avatar Pat Dunnuck

    5. Marbled Godwit
    4. Coot Chicks
    3. Common Turn
    2. Yellow Runped Warbler art
    1. Flamingo Group

    Hard to decide!!!!

  • avatar Lesley

    5 – Common Tern
    4 – White Pelican Squadron
    3 – Yellow Rumped Warbler art
    2 – Paint drop avian sculpture
    1 – Marbled Godwit

  • avatar John Clark

    White Pelican squadron – 5
    Wood Stork line-up – 4
    Snow Geese blast-off – 3
    Peacock displaying – 2
    Great Blue Heron – 1

  • avatar Ted Willcox

    #5-Snow Geese Blast Off
    #4-Yellow-Rumped Warbler Art
    #3-Gadwall Preening
    #2-Common Tern

    I like the simpler ones.

  • avatar Bruce Tuck

    Great Blue Heron: 5
    Coot Chicks: 4
    Filter Feeding Flamingo: 3
    Waterbird Flight: 2
    Yellow Rumped Warbler Art: 1

  • Man, this is almost impossible! When voting, what did you look for? For example, pure visual impact…or were you also looking at other guidelines, like rule of thirds, etc.?

    Yellow-rumped Warbler art – 5
    Filter-feeding Flamingo – 4
    Great Blue Heron – 3
    Coot chicks – 2
    Paint drop avain sculpture – 1

    All I know is, come pay day, I’m buying Fractalius!!


  • avatar Alice Meronek

    1. Marbled godwitt
    2. Great horned owl landing
    3. Young brown pelican landing
    4. Woodstork line up
    5. Peacock displaying

    They are all great!! I don’t envy the judges.

  • avatar Joanna Gazzola

    5-Marbled Godwit
    4-Yellow Rumped Warbler
    3-Wood Stork Line Up
    2-Snow Goose Blat Off
    1-Common Tern

    Very difficult to choose. They were all great!

  • avatar brendan

    5 – Waterbird flight
    4 – Great blue heron
    3 – Yellow-Rumped Warbler art
    2 – Peacock displaying
    1 – Snow geese blast-off

    Great stuff!

  • avatar Veronica Rice

    Yellow-rumped Warbler Art : 5
    Chickadee : 4
    Wood Stork Line-up : 3
    Common Tern : 2
    Marbled Godwit : 1

  • avatar Dana

    Filter Feeding Flamingo 5
    Yellow Rumped Warbler Art 4
    Common Tern 3
    Brown Pelican on Netting 2
    Chickadee 1

    Wow! Such Creativity! It was extremely difficult to choose favorites as all of these images were delightful! I too liked all of them. Very inspiring and shows that we’ve come a long way since the days of turning the lights on and off in the black & white film darkroom during processing to get a creative effect! πŸ™‚

  • avatar Don Hulley

    5-Peacock Displaying
    4-White Pelican Squadron
    3-Waterbird Flight
    2-Common Tern

  • avatar Jay

    5) Wood stork lin-up
    4) Snow geese blast off
    3) Yellow rumped warbler art
    2) Waterbird flight
    1) Paint drop avian sculpture

    I could say that I prefer pictures of birds photographed without any embellishment. I could say I don’t try this kind of stuff. I’ll just stick with WOW! Those are some unbelievable images. Instead of ranking them, maybe we should be questioning why we’re treating art as sport. But, what would be the fun in that. For what it’s worth, and before I re-examine the pictures yet again and change my list to something completely different.

  • avatar Pablo Fernicola

    Flamingo filter-feeding: 5
    White Pelican sqadron: 4
    Passerine species: 3
    Common Tern: 2
    Snow Geese blast-off: 1

  • avatar cheapo

    5 Yellow-rumped Warbler art
    4 Flamingo group
    3 Wood Stork line-up
    2 Common Tern
    1 Peacock displaying

    Ok, the Yellow Rumped Warbler art image is inspired, and is definitely my first choice. It’s so creative, and I’m sure all the other artists are thinking “OMG that is just brilliant! But the rest of my choices could easily be in a different order and I wanted to include others, but I remember from school that 8 into 4 won’t go.

  • avatar Bill Mc - Singapore

    I already cast my votes the other day. I noticed that a couple of the photos might have been made using Fractalius – so I figured I would give it a shot. I am decent at PhotoShop, and fairly skilled in Lightroom, so what’s another plugin. Right? Well. yes and no. Yes it is a cool plugin and gives interesting results “right out of the box”. But the images above are levels of magnatude way beyond the standard presets. As in all art, these took skill, forethought and vision.

  • Coot chicks – 5
    Filter-feeding Flamingo – 4
    Gadwall preening – 3
    Great horned owl landing – 2
    Chickadee – 1

  • Filter Feeing Flamingo 5
    Yellow-Rumped Warbler 4
    White Pelican Squadron 3
    Brown Pelican on netting 2
    Waterbird Flight 1

    Simply wonderful to see the creativity of the entrants. Extremely difficult to vote. Great job on all the entries. Good luck


  • 5-Paint drop Avian
    4- Passerine
    3-Common Tern
    2-Warbler Art
    1- Great Blue heron

  • yellow-rumped warbler art: 5
    coot chicks: 4
    great horned owl landing: 3
    young brown pelican landing: 2
    marbled godwit: 1

    This is a completely uninformed ranking. They are all truly amazing and inspiring.

  • avatar Pat Fishburne


    Thanks for sending us all of the entries in this category. I really enjoyed seeing them!

    5 Brown Pelican on Netting
    4 Common Turn
    3 Wood Stork Lineup
    2 Great Horned Owl Landing
    1 Young Brown Pelican Landing

  • 5-Brown Pelican on Netting
    4-Flamingo Group
    3-Marbled Godwit
    1-Great Horned Owl Landing

    Nice job to all the photographers represented here, images are very artistic!

  • avatar Greg Payne

    Filter feeding flamingo – 5
    Wood stork line up – 4
    Great blue heron – 3
    White pelican squadron – 2
    Yellow rumpled warbler art – 1

    Very impressive work. Inspiring stuff.

  • avatar Patty Corapi

    5 – common tern
    4 – chickadee
    3 – Yellow-rumped warbler art
    2 – coot chick
    1 – brwon pelican on netting

    Wow – what a wonderful collection of winners. I really wish I got have given out more votes as there are some wonderful images here. You have inspired me to go create more.

    Thanks for sharing all these winners.

  • avatar Sarah Mayhew

    Filter Feeding Flamingo-5
    Great Horned Owl Landing-4
    Brown Pelican on Netting-3
    Common Tern-2
    Great Blue Heron-1

  • avatar Ted Miller

    5 Filter-feeding Flamingo
    4 Young Pelican Landing
    3 Yellow-rumped Warbler art
    2 White Pelican Squadrom
    1 Peacock displaying

  • 5: Snow Geese blast-off
    4: Common Tern
    3: Peacock displaying
    2: Yellow-rumped Warbler art
    1: Great Horned Owl landing

  • avatar Doug Zoern

    Common Tern: 5
    White Pelican sqadron: 4
    Yellow-rumped Warbler art: 3
    Filter-feeding Flamingo: 2
    Peacock displaying: 1

  • avatar michael wolf

    5- Common Tern
    4- Flamingo Group
    3- Snow Geese
    2- Peacock Display
    1- Coot Chicks

  • 5 – Flamingo Group
    4 – Paint Drop Avian Sculpture
    3 – Waterbird flight
    2 – Snow Geese Blast-off
    1 – Wood Stork Line-Up

  • avatar Terri Charron

    Wood Stork Line Up – 5
    Flamingo Group – 4
    Marbled Godwit – 3
    Brown Pelican On Netting – 2
    Great Blue Heron – 1

  • avatar Dennis Bishop

    Yellow-rumped Warbler art: 5
    Paint drop avain sculpture: 4
    Chickadee: 3
    Common Tern: 2
    Wood Stork line-up: 1

  • avatar Renato Fernandez

    Filter feeding flamingo 5
    Young brown pelican landing 4
    Chickadee 3
    Passerine species: no clue 2
    Peacock diplaying 1

    Really tough picking 5, I would’ve given 5 to all

  • Waterbird flight: 5
    Paint drop avain sculpture: 4
    Cool Chicks: 3
    Common Tern: 2
    Yellow-rumped Warbler art; 1

  • I am impressed with the level of Photoshop expertise displayed by the final chosen entries.
    It is amazing how adaptive and powerful the program is. My only nit is the category, Digital Creations. When will everyone involved in bird photography admit that photos like these are examples of a category that should be labeled “Computer Aided Photographic Drawings Of Birds Because I Can’t Draw A Bird To Save My Ass”.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Just as photography is not about what lens or camera you have these Digital Creations are more about the creator than the programs….

    • Arthur, I couldn’t agree more. But birds ARE art, without the super-impositions, color changes, masks and textured layers. Your photos, especially the inflight captures, have made studying the discipline of bird photography the goal of many, I for one. Those captures were made with forethought, contemplation and execution of your talent and knowledge within a 1500th of a second. These Digital Creations are paintings, albeit computerized paintings, and therefore my opinion is that a greater emphasis should be made that they are more “graphic” than “photographic”, and that their creators are more likely badged as illustrators and less as photographers. I may be wrong but that’s my opinion.

      • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

        Thanks for your kind words on my images. I see know need to label the Digital Creations images. All began with the skill and forethought of the photographers, and all began with photographs. I enjoy seeing good digital creations and chose to include a category for them in my contest. I have no need to badge anyone :).

      • avatar Jeff

        I agree that birds (and flowers, landscapes etc.) are very pretty. Humans like to be artistic and share images of this beauty. Sometimes we just can’t stop with a photographic image, we want to be even more artistic and to create something even more beautiful. We may apply a filter or we may do other manipulations, but for the most part, to make pretty art, we still follow the rules. Take a look at every one of the images in the digital creations category and you will see they still follow the rules of composition. In other words, all of them started with good photography. Filters typically can’t make up for bad photography. Thank you Art, for making room this category in the competition.

        • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          I am with you 100% Jeff. And you are most welcome. The Nature’s Best Contest had a digital category for one year. It was very popular and they had some great images but they scrapped it after that.

  • avatar Sandy

    I am totally entranced by the waterbird in flight and the wood stork lineup. Ghostly mesmerizing. Also, the Coot chicks are very well defined and as an oil paiting artist, I see the quality in not only the photograph itself, but the enhanced art of the brush. WELL DONE. To all three of these.

  • avatar cheapo

    Nope, I won’t do it. I hated judging the youth group, as I’m not convinced of my own opinion being technically correct in the first place. And if we were deducting points out of an initial 100 I would leave at least 6 of these with full marks. πŸ™‚
    What would be great is, if we could see the originals next to the digitized at some future date.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      As I said to Jay below, voting is easy: just pick your five favorites in order. No need at all for any expertise. As for the originals, you always ask for a lot…. Any idea how many hours go into preparing the contest blog posts alone????

  • avatar Kathy Graff

    Peacock displaying – 5
    Filter-feeding flamingo – 4
    Yellow-rumped warbler art – 3
    Passerine species: no duel – 2
    Chickadee – 1

    This is impossible. They’re all very beautiful. I picked 5 but I really loved them all.

  • avatar Mark Hendricks

    Paint drop avain sculpture- 5
    Yellow-rumped Warbler art- 4
    Peacock displaying- 3
    Flamingo group- 2
    Filter-feeding Flamingo- 1

    Wow! Talk about having some issues. I had a harder time coming up with a top 5 in this category than the previous 2. I am very impressed with the amount of creativity that we get to view. The Yellow-rumped Watbler art is super cool! Makes me kind of hope Bob Ross appears saying “Today we are going to paint a happy Yellow-rumped Warbler”

  • 5-Yellow Rumped Warbler art
    3-White Pelican Squadron
    2-Common Tern
    1-Young Brown Pelican Landing

    Congrats to the finalists. It seems lots of thought and energy went into creating these.