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

And the Winners in the Small Category Are!

And the Winners in the Small in the Frame Category Are!

Congrats to Arnfinn Johansen, Lillehammer, Norway ( His image, Wagtail and Brown Bear, Kuhmo, Finland, was awarded first place in the Small-in-the-Frame category of the BIRDS AS ART 1st International Bird Photography Competition.

Nikkor 600/4 VR lens with the Nikon D3s. ISO 3200: 1/640 sec at f/5.6. Wimberley WH-200 II gimbal head.

Wagtail and Brown Bear, Arnfinn Johansen

From Arnfinn:

During the past few years I have spent more than 600 hours in hides in the wilderness on the Finish-Russian border photographing Brown Bears and wolves. In September 2010 I was there for one week and there were a lot of Wagtails around. The Brown Bear was eating a carcass and the Wagtails were flying around trying to get some scraps of meat. The bear seemed to be irritated by the birds but they were too fast for it. I made many photos of the Wagtails but the birds were hard for me to catch as well. Finally I got this image showing the small Wagtail on his tiny wings just in front of the Brown Bear’s big head. The huge difference in size and power combined with the Brown Bear’s irritating glance is fascinating. And for the Wagtail this is what I would call a tough match…

There is a lot that makes this image very special. First and most importantly, you could not have placed the bird in a better spot, right in front of the huge, hulking bear’s face with a lovely background of yellow grasses. Though only small details, the bird’s raised wings and hanging feet and the bear’s open jaw and his seemingly evil glare all add immensely to the image. The soft light allowed for a perfect exposure that reveals all the detail in the bear’s coat. The out-of-focus tree trunks in the upper right balance nicely with the delicate bush in the lower left. Add the perfect framing and you surely have a winner.

Congrats to Jeroen Stel, The Netherlands. His image, Bearded Tit on Reed, was awarded second prize in the Small-in-the-Frame category of the BIRDS AS ART 1st International Bird Photography Competition.

Canon EOS-1D Mark IV and the old (non-IS ) 600mm f/4L lens on a Gitzo tripod with a Wimberley head.

Bearded Tit on Reed, Jeroen Stel

From Jeroen:

Bearded Reedling (Panurus biarmicus), sometimes called Bearded Tit, is quite rare in Holland. This species can sometimes be photographed in winter when they switch from eating their summer time diet of insects to eating seeds. Last winter was very mild and warm so it was hard to find or photograph them. Then all of a sudden in February we it got really cold with frost and temperatures as low as minus 16 degrees Celsius (3 degrees Fahrenheit). It was time to head out to photograph the Bearded Reedling.

I had seen them over the past few years at the at “De Rietputten” nature reserve in Vlaardingen, The Netherlands, a reserve that is slated to be destroyed as a new highway and tunnel will be built in the area. When I arrived I waited in the cold for about an hour before they appeared. The bird in my image was feeding on the edge of a reed bed. When the bird landed on this particular reed it bent over from the weight of the bird and I had a quick chance to make this image.

The curved reed, the sweet out-of-focus background, the bird’s perfect pose (especially the down-cocked tail), just the right head angle, the bit of snow on the bill tip, and the stunning image design combined to make this a small-in-the-frame jewel.

Congrats to Isak Pretorius of Johannesburg, South Africa. His Yellow-billed Oxpecker on Cape Buffalo image was awarded third place in the Small-in-the-Frame category of the BIRDS AS ART 1st International Bird Photography Competition.

Canon 600mmf/4L IS USM + 1.4 X teleconverter with the EOS-1D Mark II N from the car window with the rig resting the lens on a beanbag. ISO 800: 1/2000 sec. at f/5 in Manual mode.

Yellow-billed Oxpecker on Cape Buffalo, Isak Pretorius

From Isak:

Yellow-billed Oxpecker is one of my favourite photography subjects because of the striking colour of the bill. I had found a flock of them with a herd of buffalo close to Mopani Camp in Kruger National Park on a misty morning. The buffalo were all lying down next to the road. I positioned my vehicle close to them, sat quietly, and captured a series of portraits of these beautiful birds before the buffalo stirred and disappeared into the Mopani thicket. In this photo, a second buffalo was lying down right behind the oxpecker that I was photographing; it provided the perfect background.

The perfect subject-to-imaging-sensor orientation (square in this case), the bright colors of the oxpecker’s bill and eye, the pleasing image design with the bird well back in the frame, the lovely two-toned background, the soft early morning light, and the dozens of tiny flies all added to the success of this image.


Congrats to the three winning photographers and to those who created the 15 other spectacular images that made it to the final round of judging. Getting a single image to the final round is a great accomplishment. With 422 images, this was a popular category. From the rules: Small in the Frame/Environmental category: images of a bird or flocks of birds in their natural habitat.

The prizes (see below) 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.

Small in the Frame Prize Pool
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
$50 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
Lens Align Mark II . . RAW Workflow
. 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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