And the Winners in the Blur Category Are! « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

And the Winners in the Blur Category Are!

And the Winners in the Blur Category Are!

Congratulations to Clemens van der Werf, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA (website), His image, Great Blue Heron leg, Blind Pass, Captiva Island, Florida, was awarded first place in the Blur category of the BIRDS AS ART 1st Annual Bird Photography Competition. Click on the image to see a larger, even more spectacular version. Tripod-mounted Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-1DMIV on a Gitzo 3541XLS tripod and Mongoose M3.6 action head. ISO 50. Evaluative metering +1 2/3 stops: 1/15 sec. at f/22 set manually.

Great Blue Heron leg, Clemens van der Werf

From Clemens:

This image was created just before 10am on a partly cloudy morning. The Great Blue Heron was standing near the shore line waiting patiently for one of the local fishermen to toss something its way. I noticed the water flowing past the bird’s leg on its way back to the Gulf as each wave receded. I envisioned an image that revealed the texture of the bird’s leg in sharp contrast with the blurred water. I chose a shutter speed slow enough to blur the water but fast enough to yield a sharp image of the leg. The image was converted to black and white using Nik SilverEfex Pro.

All of the judges loved the creative use of a slow shutter speed, the implied motion of the water, the clean look, the diagonal lines, the pattern of the scutes—the external scales on the leg, the black and white presentation, and the beautiful image design.

Congratulations to Andre Nel of South Africa. His image, Little Egret blur, was awarded second place in the Blur category of the BIRDS AS ART 1st Annual Bird Photography Competition. Click on the image to see a larger, even more spectacular version. Canon 100-400mm lens with the Canon EOS-1D Mk IV on a bean-bag. ISO 200: 1/10 sec. at f/40.

Little Egret in the rapids, Andre Nel

From Andre

Although the small game reserve of Borakalalo is close to Johanneburg (South Africa) it is not a popular destination because it does not host the “big five” African mammals. I love it because it is quiet. Late one afternoon, I saw this Little Egret fishing in the rapids downstream from a small weir. I was struck by the bird’s statue-stillness especially as compared to the rushing water. To capture this contrast I put the lens on a bean bag on my car window. As the bird was very much aware of my presence I stayed in my vehicle. While the bird entertained me for a full ten minutes before flying off I tried a variety of shutter speed settings. The 1/10 sec. gave me just the effect I was looking for.

The soft light, the movement of the rushing water, the sharpness of the subject, the bird’s breeding plume, and the lovely rule-of-thirds image design combined to make this a powerful image.

Congratulations to Paul Mckenzie of Hong Kong. His image, Red-crowned Crane flight blur, was third place in the Blur category of the BIRDS AS ART 1st Annual Bird Photography Competition. Click on the image to see a larger, even more spectacular version. Canon EF600mm f4 IS USM lens with the EOS-1D MIV on a Gitzo GT3530LS tripod with a Wimberley gimbal head: 1/30 sec.

Red-crowned Crane flight blur, Paul Mckenzie

From Paul:

Blurs are very much a personal preference and my own preference is for the head and eyes of the subject to be reasonably sharp but for the wings (in the case of birds) to show motion. I have taken thousands of standard flight shots of Red-Crowned Cranes entering and leaving this wood-surrounded, snow-covered field over the last three years but much prefer my blurred images. I was attracted to a dark patch of woods with brown leaves and knew that this would make a nice background for the white-winged bird. I waited for a crane to fly by and panned relatively smoothly with the flying birds. I had three chances over a 30 minute period. This was the best effort.

The perfect exposure, the sharp face, and the pleasingly blurred white wings set against the dark cranberry-colored background helped to create this delight to the eye.


Congrats to the three winning photographers and to those who created the 9 other spectacular images that made it to the final round of judging. Getting a single image to the final round is a momentous accomplishment.

This was not a hugely popular category with only 146 images submitted. 12 images were sent to the five judges. 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 pitching in during the first rounds of image selection. We worked very hard for nearly three full days to get from more than 5500 images down to the final 163.

The Pleasing Blurs category was defined as follows: for pleasingly blurred images of a bird or a flock of birds; images in this category must be created in-camera.

The prizes (see at the end of this post) will be shipped once all the winners are announced as several folks had more than one top three image. Be sure to patronize our sponsors; without them, this contest would not exist. There will be more educational stuff from this category coming soon.

A Guide to Pleasing Blurs

Contrary to popular belief, pleasing blurs are not unfocused accidents. Nearly all are the result of careful planning, a great deal of knowledge, and impeccable techniques. More and more recently pleasing blurs are seen walking away with top prizes in a variety of high prestige contests and competitions. And they are my favorite type of image. I love the freedom that digital gives us to play and experiment. You can learn a ton about creating pleasing blurs in “A Guide to Pleasing Blurs” by Denise Ippolito and yours truly. Learn more or purchase here.

Prizes: Pleasing Blurs
First Prize Runner Up Highly Commended Sponsor
$100 Gift Certificate $50 Gift Certificate $25 Gift Certificate B&H PHOTO VIDEO
choice of lens plate P-5 camera body plate Plamp Wimberley
16 GB 450 X UDMA Compact Flash Card Sensor Scope Universal Memory Card Reader Delkin Devices
Level 3 Gift Subscription Level 2 Gift Subscription Level 1 Gift Subscription Nature Photographer Magazine
$30 Discount Certificate $25 Discount Certificate $20 Discount Certificate Canvas On Demand
Laptop Bag or Pixel Sunscreen Pixel Pocket Rocket AA Battery Holder Think Tank
$250 Gift Certificate $25 Gift Certificate $10 Gift Certificate Lens Coat
Canon/Nikon Lens Plate Canon/Nikon Camera Body Plate . 4th Generation Design
. Better Beamer Better Beamer Replacement Fresnel Visual Echoes
TriKlear Kit TriKlear Kit TriKlear Kit Lens Pen
. Double Bubble . HP Marketing
BreezeBrowser Pro/Downloader Pro Combo BreezeBrowser Pro Downloader Pro Breeze Systems
Sito HD Version Gold Web Site Sito HD

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