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

Portrait Category Voting Analysis and Related Comments

Portrait Category Voting Analysis and Related Comments

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

1-Jacana chick on Lily-leaf by Lou Coetzer: 24
2-Short-toed Snake Eagle with snake by Kiran Poonacha: 23
3-Resplendent Quetzal by Judd Patterson: 22
T4-Songbird on teasel: 18
T4-Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl: 18
6-Sparrow: 17
T7-Raptor drinking: 15
T7-Fledgling Red-winged blackbird: 15
T7-Kingfisher sky-pointing: 15
10-Tropical Songbird: 14
T11-Common Yellowthroat: 13
T11-Long-eared Owl: 13
T11-Giant Kingfisher: 13
14-Francolin: 12

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

1-Jacana chick on Lily-leaf by Lou Coetzer-192
2-Raptor drinking-133
3-Ferruginous Pygmy Owl-88
4-Short-toed Snake Eagle by Kiran Poonacha-87
5-Songbird on teasel-70
6-Common Yellowthroat-61
8-Kingfisher sky-pointing-45
9-Resplendent Quetzal by Judd Patterson-43
11-Giant Kingfisher-8
12-Tropical Songbird-7
13-Long-eared Horned Owl-5
14-Fledgling Red-winged Blackbird-1

Analysis of the Voting

Once again there was–as I predicted when the images were presented for public voting here, lots of correlation between the judge’s results and the public voting with the Jacana chick the clear choice of both panels. If you missed the announcement of the winners along with their comments, click here. Short-toed Snake Eagle with snake (2, 4), Songbird on teasel (4, 5), Ferruginous Pygmy Owl (T4, 3), Kingfisher sky-pointing (T7, 8), and others further down the list showed high correlation between the two votes. The public might have gotten the better of the judges with their placement of Raptor drinking but on the other hand, I was mystified by the public vote that placed the magnificent Kingfisher sky-pointing 9th and awarded only a single fifth place vote to Fledgling Red-winged Blackbird. Thanks, however, to all who voted.

The images below are presented in the order of finish as per the judge’s voting.

Jacana chick on Lily-leaf by Lou Coetzer

Almost without exception, everyone who has seen this image has been blown away by the killer sweet light, the killer-perfect reflection–I’ve never seen such a still morning, the sharpness, the beautiful lily pad, the impeccable composition, and the too-cute chick staring right down the lens barrel.

Short-toed Snake Eagle with snake by Kiran Poonacha

Wow! This image has is all: a beautiful bird on a lovely and unique perch; a lead grey background; some tiny flowers; the snake wrapped around the bird’s far leg, its bloodied head below; and the raptor’s yellow eye staring; soft, sweet light. All nicely framed by some out-of-focus vegetation.

Resplendent Quetzal by Judd Patterson

There is not a lot to say here with an absolutely stunning bird in an absolutely stunning setting. In nice, soft light. I love the pose, the killer tail, and especially how the greens and plum colors on the avocado fruits match the colors of the bird.

Songbird on teasel, Rodrigo Moraga.

Take a stunning, colorful bird and put it on a killer perch in sweet light and set the whole thing against a lovely soft background and you have one mighty fine image. A bit more head turn towards us would have resulted in a sharper eye and a bit more light on the bird’s face. Barring that lightening and sharpening only the face would have improved this one.

Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl with prey by Rolf Nussbaumer

This is a hard to photograph species. Getting it with a prey item in its bill is obviously a great moment captured. Image quality and critical sharpness are somewhat lacking. That said I would be proud to have this one in my files.

Sparrow by Jack Williamson

This image is plain and very simple but the pleasing image design, the beautifully toned background, the soft light, and the over-the-shoulder pose with enough depth-of-field and the perfect head angle for the pose made this one a deservedly popular choice.

Raptor drinking by Bence Mate.

With its near-perfect symmetry, the sweet background, nice reflections, and those killer yellow eyes I was a bit surprised that this one did not do a bit better with the judges.

Fledgling Red-winged blackbird by Gary Shackelford.

I loved this image. It shows that it is possible to make great images of even the most common birds. In my book it is too, too cute. With the open bill, the sweet background, and the interesting perch I was mystified as to how this image garnered only a single fifth place vote in the public tally….

Kingfisher sky-pointing by Jakob Damborg

Take an evocative image design and combine it with some interesting behavior and set the whole thing against a sweet background in soft light and you will have a very pleasing image. And oh that reed. Lightening and selectively sharpening the face here would have made this strong image a bit stronger.

Tropical songbird by Rafael Rodriguez

Too centered with a hint of flash eye and lots of background noise but the incredible beauty and colors of this little gem make it a winner.

Common Yellowthroat by Kevin Hall

Stunning light, the ready-to-take-flight pose, a killer sweet background, and those lovely flowers all add to the success of this very strong image.

Long-eared Owl by Niranjan Sant

A great bird with the ear tufts erect and the sweet light and lovely background are the strengths here. A few too many grasses are a small distraction.

Giant Kingfisher by Stuart Bowie.

In this fine image I love the bird, the upper right rule of thirds subject placement, the sweet light, the head angle, and the mottled tan background.

Francolin by Isak Pretorius

The lovely perch, the pose and head angle of the subject, the soft light, and the yellow and green background are all pluses here.


Congrats to the three winning photographers and to those who created the eleven other spectacular images that made it to the final round of judging. Getting a single image to the final round was a great accomplishment. With 1153 images entered, this category was, as expected, hugely popular, the most popular by far. Thanks to all who entered.

The End is in Sight

In a very few days we shall present the eleven winning images for a public vote to determine their top Contest image. The actual Grand Prize winner will be announced shortly thereafter and we will be done. πŸ™‚

22 comments to Portrait Category Voting Analysis and Related Comments

  • avatar Vincent Scarnecchia

    Artie-The photos are inspiring. Many thanks for your hard work and sharing your experiences and photos with us. And also Thanks to Denise .Vincent

  • avatar Richard Zbinden

    I continue to be amazed at the amount of fantastic work you do, and your dedication to all of us interested in photography.

    You are truly an amazing man.

    Thank you!

  • Congratulations to all -truly inspirational work!

  • These photos are so unbelievably fantastic. The lighting in the top two is just phenomenal… I’m both jealous of these photographers capabilities and inspired by their impeccable talent at the same time! Every single photo here is just exquisite. Congrats to the winners!

  • avatar Charles Scheffold

    I agree with many of the other comments here regarding the quality of the images – above and beyond anything I could have expected.

    This was the first photography contest I ever entered. I suspected it would be extremely competitive, and it was. But now I know:

    (a) why none of my images made it to the judges
    (b) how much work goes in to running a contest like this
    (c) that I need to work a LOT harder for next year!!!

    Very educational overall πŸ™‚


  • Congratulations to all the other finalists, it’s an honor to be counted among your impressive images.

    I can’t help with any information other than my own photograph, but perhaps others would share their details here as well?

    The Common Yellowthroat on Eastern Redbud was made at State Game Lands 249 near Heidlersburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
    The camera I used was a Canon 1D mkIV with an EF300mm f4L IS and a 2x II Extender – tripod mounted at the tailgate of my van (used as a blind). Main light was the hazy sun from right front, fill light was a 580EX II from left front, and I had a 550EX adding some extra illumination to the background – both speedlights controlled with a ST-E2 wireless trigger. ISO 400, 1/125th sec., f11. Playback was used to bring the warbler in to the perch.

    Thanks to Mr. Morris, his team, and the judges for the opportunity to compete.

  • avatar Charles Scheffold

    Artie – I think you made a typo as the subheading of this post (in yellow) says “Tight Category Voting Analysis and Related Comments” instead of “Portrait Category Voting Analysis and Related Comments”

  • avatar Gloria Jones

    I agree with Glen Fox 100%! I’m not a photographer, but my husband is.
    Thank you Glen for a very apt assessment.

  • avatar David Policansky

    Artie: Thanks, as usual. I agree about the jacana chick, what a photograph. Indeed they all are terrific. I have a question prompted by your comment on the kingfisher skypointing; you suggested selective sharpening of the face. I have taken lots of photos of blue-headed kingfishers, in particular the beautiful little malachite kingfishers of southern Africa, and no matter how set the AF on my 7D–spot focus, AI Servo, one-shot, center AF point with expansion–the head never seems as critically sharp as I expect and as I get when I photograph other birds, even other kingfishers. Could it be that the camera is having trouble focusing on blue?


  • avatar Helen Jones

    I have enjoyed viewing all the lovely shots and choice made by judges and public. There were many great shots even of those that did not make it as a winner.
    Are there any plans to put up these photos (all selected for judging) for sale?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I would be glad to put you in touch if you let me know which images you are interested in.

  • avatar Mike Miller

    These are all outstanding photographs, and it would be very hard to judge this group. I personally lean towards the beautifully composed ‘Long-eared Owl’ photo with those piercing orange eyes.

    Perhaps I missed this, but would it be possible to learn the lens and camera body combinations used in each of the 14 photos semi-finalists. This could prove to be very instructive in itself, and I’ll bet that a lot of your readers would find this data interesting.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Mike. It would be beneficial but I have already put more than 1,000 hours of work into the contest and doing that for each of the 11 categories would require another 200 hours or so πŸ™‚ All who had images in the final rounds are invited to post the gear that they used πŸ™‚ Would you like to volunteer to e-mail the 150 or so folks who had images in the finals to get the info?

  • avatar Bill Eaton

    These are all amazing photographs and it has been such a wonderful experience following the entire competition.Thanks Artie for all your hard work to make it happen.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      You are most welcome :). It has been rewarding and great fun but the work hours required far exceeded anything we dreamed of especially with regards to the public voting and the educational follow-up stuff as here.

  • Amazing photos. They are great inspiration to work harder!

  • Awesome pictures. The Long-eared Owl looks more like an Eagle Owl. Way to bulky for a Long-eared Owl.
    The raptor drinking looks like a Eurasian Sparrowhawk.


  • avatar Glen Fox

    Artie and all the judges for this content, THANK YOU for a very educational and inspirational experience! Thanks to all who donated prizes as well. I believe the contest was a smashing success. I have one complaint. Surely photographers who love to photograph birds and create images of the quality shown here, could, with a little effort, identify their subjects. We all can tell its a “songbird on a Teasel” ..its a very distinctively marked songbird that should be easily identified in any field guide for the area. The tropical songbird is clearly a Tody. Such beautiful images have the potential to educate IF the subject is appropriately identified. I also believe that learning more about your subjects enriches the photographer’s experience. An indication of the geographic location where the image is captured (country and state/province) would also be very informative. Maybe such information will be a requirement for the entries in future contests.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Good suggestion Glen. For next year we can have the folks name the species and possibly the location as part of the image caption. But, there are problems there because long JPEG names may cause a problem, especially for the few folks who send stuff on CD. For this year, would you like to volunteer to e-mail the 150 or so folks who had images in the finals to get the info?