Pleasing Blur Category Voting Analysis and Related Comments « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Pleasing Blur Category Voting Analysis and Related Comments

You Be the Judge: Small in the Frame

Voting in the Small in the Frame category is still open. It is looking like a closely contested category. Voting will end at about 5qm eastern time tomorrow, July 10, 2012. If you would like to chime in and vote click here.

New York City Weekend Nature Photography Seminar December 8-9, 2012

Details for this great weekend seminar are available here. Do consider joining Denise Ippolito and me for a great learning experience. Do click on the link to see many of Denise’s incredible tree and flower images. Camera club discounts available; see the details at the link.

5D Mark III Guide Pre-publication Version Still Discounted

Click here for details. When the guide is complete it will sell for $50. Folks who purchase now will receive the final version and any updates for no additional charge so ordering now is a win-win proposition. If you click on the link above you will see that the list of items not yet covered is continues to shrink….

I spent the better part of Tuesday and today working on the 5D III UG; when I am done, the price goes to $50. Buy now to save! The more I study this camera the more I learn how complex it is. Rudy Winston at Canon has been a huge help and so as Denise who helped me with the section on Multiple Exposures today. I still have some work to do.

Nickerson Beach/JBWR Photo-Tour August 15-17, 2012: Only 1 slot left!

Nickerson Beach/JBWR Photo-Tour August 15-17, 2012: $999. Co-leader: Denise Ippolito. Introductory slide program: Tuesday August 14 at 7pm. Limit 8/Openings:1.

This photo-tour is almost sold out. But with two great leaders each tons of experience at this site and the promise to learn a ton of great Photoshop stuff it does make a lot of sense.

For more info and a collection of images click here.

For info on Denise Ippolito’s July 14-15 Nickerson Beach trip–featuring lots of Common Tern chicks and fledglings, click here.

Pleasing Blur Category Voting Analysis and Related Comments

Totals of the Judges’ Votes (each of 5 judges awarded each image 1-5 points):

1-Great Blue Heron leg, Clemens van der Werf: 20
2-Little Egret in the rapids, Andre Nel: 18
3-Red-crowned Crane flight blur, Paul Mckenzie: 17
T4-Skimmer skimming blur, Tim Timmis: 16
T4-Sub-adult Bald Eagle pan blur, Clemens van der Werf: 16
T4-Black-headed Gull blur, David Pattyn: 16
7-Bald Eagle striking blur, Indranil Sircar: 15
8-Woodpecker vertical wing blur, Cynthia Crawford: 14
9-Shorebird flock blur, James Fuller: 13
10-Snow Geese blast-off blur, Douglas Ridgway: 12
11-Snow Geese leaving the field blur, Clemens van der Werf: 11
12-Surreal flock in marsh, Isak Pretorius: 9

Public Voting Totals (each of you was asked to vote your five favorite images 1-5 points with 5 being your favorite):

1-Woodpecker vertical wing blur, Cynthia Crawford: 129
2-Skimmer skimming blur, Tim Timmis: 125
3-Little Egret in the rapids, Andre Nel: 77
4-Great Blue Heron leg, Clemens van der Werf: 69
5-Sub-adult Bald Eagle pan blur, Clemens van der Werf: 60
6-Black-headed Gull blur, David Pattyn: 52
7-Red-crowned Crane flight blur, Paul Mckenzie: 50
8-Surreal flock in marsh, Isak Pretorius: 41
9-Snow Geese blast-off blur, Douglas Ridgway: 35
10-Bald Eagle striking blur, Indranil Sircar: 31
11-Snow Geese leaving the field blur, Clemens van der Werf: 24
12-Shorebird flock blur, James Fuller: 12

Analysis of the Voting

When this category was posted for the public vote I was fairly certain that the Great Blue Heron leg with blurred water background would carry the day. Not. It was an very strong group of images. Kudos to all who had one or more images sent to the judges. I remember that it was not long ago when Clemens van der Werf did not like blurs. We were at Bosque and it was a slow day. I stopped my can and the group did the same. Everyone got out looking mystified. What’s to photograph? There were big stands of reddish colored bushes. “We’re gonna do blurs,” I said. There were a few groans with surely the loudest from Clemens. Denise was along and soon we were all having too much fun and creating a wide variety of pleasing blurs using our intermediate telephoto lenses: zoom blurs, vertical pan blurs, and jiggle blurs to name a few. Skip ahead two years and here’s Clemens with three images honored in the Pleasing Blurs category including the first place photo.

Little Egret in the rapids and Great Blue Heron leg shared the best combined showing followed closely by Skimmer skimming. Kudos to Cynthia Crawford for topping the public vote with her creation. Read on for lots of suggestions for improvement. The images are presented in the order that they finished in the judge’s vote.

Great Blue Heron leg, Clemens van der Werf

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.

Little Egret in the rapids, Andre Nel

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.

Red-crowned Crane flight blur, Paul Mckenzie

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.

Skimmer skimming blur,Tim Timmis

Skimmer skimming is a dynamic blur that shows lots of action with that beautiful spray. With much more room below the bird than above I felt that it was compositionally unbalanced. If there was more room above the bird in the original capture it might have been wise to include it.

Sub-adult Bald Eagle pan blur, Clemens van der Werf

Again we see the power of diagonal lines. The relatively sharp eye and talons combined with the snow storm and the pan-blurred background to create this powerful image.

Black-headed Gull blur, David Pattyn

A sharp face and eye, the blurred wingtips, dramatic side-light, and a dreamy blue sea are the strengths of this image

Bald Eagle striking blur, Indranil Sircar

Here I liked the degree of blurring–the result of just the right shutter speed and a nice job of panning, the green water, and the image design with the bird well back in the frame.

Woodpecker vertical wing blur, Cynthia Crawford

Nicely framed with a relatively sharp eye and face. The patterns formed by the blurring on both the near and far upper wings are quite interesting. Some might find it a bit tight in the frame and possibly a bit too contrast.

Shorebird flock blur, James Fuller

Beautiful colors and tones. The blue water at the bottom draws the eye. A bit wider with perhaps a bit slower shutter speed might have been better.

Snow Geese blast-off blur, Douglas Ridgway

This was one of my favorites. Love the gray strip at the bottom to give the image a clean lower edge. Degree of blurring is perfect. A wall-hanger for many. The only that thing that bugs me at all is the single goose that is closer to the camera than the rest–lower left center…..

Snow Geese leaving the field blur, Clemens van der Werf

Beautiful colors and a lovely degree of blurring. Wider or a lot wider might have been better or a lot better. A lot wider might have resulted in a clean upper edge….

Surreal flock in marsh, Isak Pretorius

I love the colors and tones here. Seeing the photographer’s name I would guess that the birds are flamingos. A bit less blur might have appealed to at least a few. The big problem for me is that the flock is too centered. As presented a crop from the bottom from the corner of the dark green on the left frame edge would have resulted in a far stronger image.


Congrats again to the three winning photographers and to those who created the 9 other wonderful 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. 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.

2 comments to Pleasing Blur Category Voting Analysis and Related Comments

  • avatar Carol Nichols

    Previously I had only thought of pleasing blur images where the bird was blurred. It never occurred to me to have the bird totally in focus and the surroundings blurred as in the first and second place images. I now realize this was a self-imposed limitation of this category and have been awakened to more possibilities.

  • Art, thanks for the opportunity to enter your contest. Also many thanks to the judges and people who voted for my skimmer photo. Great incentive to try again next year.