A Greener View « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

A Greener View

A Greener View

After Jeff Rugg read the “Field Etiquette for Nature Photographers” post here, he sent me the column that he has written for the weekly newspaper column that he writes. He was writing for permission to mention the blog in his column; I gladly assented. Jeff’s Yellow-rumped Warbler Art image was awarded first prize in the Digital Category in the BIRDS AS ART 1st Annual Bird Photography Competition. You can see his image here.

I thought it apropos to share this with you here in a guest blog post.

Jeff enjoys creating avian composite images. He created the files for this one in his backyard with the old EOS-30D (replaced now by the EOS 7D) and the Canon EF 100-400mm IS L zoom lens. He did not need to worry about having others scare off his birds.

From Jeff: “This bird bath composite was created in the bird bath area of my water garden. I used the Canon 30D set on a tripod with the Canon 30 foot remote cable release. When I saw a bird striking a good pose, I created an image. The first shot was at 10:20am and the last one was 4:46pm all on April 10 of this year. The shutter speed varied. All at f/5.6, ISO 160, at 200mm.

For more on the 7D/100-400 combo see “How Dan Cadieux Masters Canon EOS-7D Image Files.”

A Greener View

By Jeff Rugg

It is the political season and that seems to bring out the worst in human behavior. I won’t be getting into politics in this article, but I would like to talk about proper etiquette while people are roaming around in nature. If you, like me, have been on a bike or hiking trail this summer, you may have seen some familiar scenes. First, there are the trail hogs. They are having a great time talking about who knows what and who knows who and while doing so they are taking up the whole width of the trail. They often seem oblivious to the natural surroundings and to anyone else who wants to use the trail. Second, there are the speed demons. They may be running or riding a bike and they are not to be trifled with. Pity the poor trail hogs when a speed demon is on the same trail.

Next, there are people with dogs. The dogs are almost always supposed to be on a leash, but the rules don’t say the leash can’t be 500 feet long. Dogs can frighten some people, but they can really frighten animals. Have you been to the beach this summer? Did you see someone sending their dog running into flocks of gulls and shorebirds? Last, we have people who loudly interrupt or barge on past bird watchers and nature photographers. Parks and wildlife are ‘used’ by lots of people with differing needs and that can lead to confrontations.

What do all these situations have in common? Lack of knowledge of proper natural area etiquette. In cities, people don’t usually make eye contact, but in nature most people are friendlier and are often willing to stop and talk. Trail hogs need to pay more attention to their surroundings and note when other people are approaching; they need to be courteous enough to allow passage without hindering other people. Trail runners, joggers and mountain bikers all need to realize there will be slow people on the same trail and give them enough advance notice of their approach that they can safely get out of the way. Dog owners need to realize that terrorizing people and wildlife is never appropriate, even for gulls or squirrels. This advice also applies to beach joggers and driving on the beach.

Bird watchers and wildlife photographers are usually cognizant of their affect on birds and other animals, but not on people. Other park users may not realize their own affect on an animal when they just walk right up to someone who spent a lot of time trying to get close to a bird or another animal. Birders and photographers may need to notice other people more often. People will often stop from walking in front of a camera and wait for the photographer to take a picture, but they shouldn’t be made to wait forever. It is not appropriate to approach birders or photographers without their first acknowledging your presence, just as it is not appropriate for them to ignore people trying to use the same area of the park. If after several minutes the photographer has not acknowledged your presence, it is appropriate to quietly ask if you can approach or move past.

The bigger concern is not about disturbing the person, but about disturbing the objects of their attention, the birds and animals that they are photographing. It may be more appropriate for the photographer to move towards you, so that the wildlife is not bothered by too many people getting too close.
If you are interested in more information on field etiquette for nature photographers, Arthur Morris writes an incredibly good blog on his Birds As Art website and he recently covered this topic. Check it out at www.birdsasart-blog.com and I am sure you will not be disappointed at the photography and the information he delivers. If you or someone you know is interested in nature photography, Mr. Morris has written several excellent books that would make great holiday presents.

To find out more about Jeff Rugg and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website here.

Article Copyright 2012: Jeff Rugg and Creators.Com

What Do You Think?

Take a moment to leave a comment and share your thoughts with Jeff in my absence. Denise Ippolio and I are on a Cheeseman’s Ecology Safaris Southern Ocean expedition until 11/11.

NYC Weekend Nature Photography Seminar

Presented by Denise Ippolito/A Creative Adventure and Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Hilton Garden Inn, Staten Island, New York. December 8-9, 2012 from 9am-4:30pm.
Weekend: $169. SAT or SUN: $99. Lodging available for out of town guests.
Saturday: Image Capture Sunday: Image Evaluation and Processing

Click here for complete details including the Saturday and Sunday schedules, club and group discount info, and registration incentives and for more info on the In-the-Field Seminar Follow-up Workshop.

Artie, the grizzled veteran, is widely noted as one of the premier bird photographers, tour leaders, and educators on the planet. Denise, who specializes in flowers, is the mega-creative up-and-comer, a popular lecturer, a skilled field instructor, and an amazing Photoshop wizard who will share her tips and tricks with you. Both artie and denise are full time professional nature photographers.

BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tours

Click here for complete IPT information including the current schedule and links to general IPT info, deposit and cancellation policies. and the required registration and release forms.

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8 comments to A Greener View

  • Diane,
    I have to agree with you that there are birders who don’t much care for us photographers and kind of frown on us as not “real birders” I have had them scare birds on a few occasions or barge in and walk in front of the lens..I’m always amused when there’s a rare bird. Then they are asking if anyone got a photograph of it.Of course there are photographers who are guilty of trying to get too close to a bird and spooking it. That makes me madder than ever. Especially if I, like you are in the process of taking a picture. Also, as dog owners, we are very cognizant of the importance of not letting our dogs disturb people or wildlife at home or in the field.

  • avatar Donna Lorello

    I so agree!! I wish a similar article could go into our local papers! I personally hate going to the “natural” areas for they are invaded by two legged things that insist on ignoring the very reason why they are there – to get away from our concrete jungles and commune with nature! With so much of my home state taken up by humanity and most natural areas become congested, it is difficult to do much good birding or nature watching.

    Diane, guess your birder group that blasted by you didn’t care – they did their bird watching so to heck with anyone else out doing the same. Sigh…

  • avatar Stuart Freedman

    Am a bird photographer here in South Florida. We have several wet land areas in which the local water departments have constructed beautiful boardwalks. These walkways are ideal for senior citizens to get some air, they are ideal for middle aged Americans to get their exercise. It is the high speed walkers who make tripods bounce. The photographers who extend their tripod legs well into the walk way. There are also the cell phone users loudly talking to their stock broker. I guess what I’m trying to say is “Let’s be cognizint of our fellowman”.

  • avatar Ron

    Love the composite image – just a great way to show off the variety of birds at the bird bath area, but I diverge…This column is so true. I just wish there was a way to excerpt some of it and have it published in our local paper, particularly the part about idiots, er..I mean people, with their dogs. Reminds of a situation this past summer when my wife and I were out taking in the peace and quiet on one of the local park area trails and we came around a corner and there was a young woman walking/jogging with her large dog – as soon as she saw us, she stopped and grabbed the dog and held it until we had passed. This was very much appreciated as my wife is afraid of large dogs. A few hundred metres further on, we came across a family of four walking their dogs, not one, not two, but four dogs. Two large ones and two small ones, guess which ones were not on a leash (This trail is an on-leash area)- the two little ones, which immediately started becoming aggressive and barking at us. I will say no more, I only wish that I had had the foresight to snap a few pics of these folks and then wait until they returned to their vehicle to snap a pic of them in their vehicle complete with licence plate – oh, well, next time. Personally, I don’t mind dogs, what I do mind are the thoughtless owners who think that everyone will just love their dog and that the rules do not apply to them and their dog(s). Fortunately, in my experience, these folks are a minority, unfortunately, also in my experience, not a small enough minority.

    • avatar Jeff

      Hi Ron, thanks for the kind words.
      As a columnist, I know that your local paper (and all of Art’s followers’ local papers) would love to have a letter to the editor concerning local issues. Polite wording is more likely to get printed. Timing is important, so if your local natural areas and trails aren’t heavily used over the winter, then writing in the spring would be better. If you know of a local park ranger who shares your view, ask if they would be willing to talk to the newspaper. Call the paper and share the ranger’s name with an editor who can call the ranger for an interview.

      If there are local parks with an issue, such as Stuart’s Florida boardwalks, then local birders, photographers, Audubon societies, etc. could ask for signage that explains proper boardwalk etiquette. If photographers don’t take control of their tripods, then they could be banned from the boardwalks as they are in several botanic gardens and butterfly gardens that I know. Because of budget problems, local groups might have to pay for the signs, but that would be a small price to pay to allow for harmonious use of the boardwalks.

      I am thinking about creating a PDF of a trail etiquette handout that could be printed by anyone interested. I would leave a space for local organizations to provide contact information. Is there an interest for such a brochure in the larger photography community?

  • And then there are the birders. At least I’m pretty sure that’s who it was in the first car.

    A friend and I had pulled into the parking lot for the Abbott’s Lagoon trail at Point Reyes recently, ate our lunches, and then talked to some people from a large group from the Western Ornithological Society, if I’m remembering the name correctly. They were just getting back in their cars after a hike. We decided to skip the trail and started to drive out when we spotted an extremely photogenic “guard quail” on a beautiful, weathered fencepost. We stopped the car, got out, and were sneaking quietly around the back side, carefully approaching it, hand-holding very obvious long lenses, starting to shoot, clearly pointing at something like bird dogs. Several cars from the group of birders pulled out behind us. When they saw us stop, they stopped, observed our bird-dog routine for half a minute or so, and then the first car, followed by the others, just blasted by us, flushing the quail and his flock.

    Sigh…. It woud have been such a nice set of pictures. I guess the people with binoculars just don’t relate to the people with cameras.

    • avatar Daniel Gelinas

      Most birders that I have met don’t inderstand what magnification ours lenses have (or rather, don’t have). I went birding last winter with a group and I had brought along my 300mm 2.8 just to take ID photos. Most of the birders figured my lens must be the same as a 60x scope and wondered why I wasn’t taking any pictures when a short eared owl was 200 yards away. I took a photo and then showed it to them on the back of the camera. Several we’re quite surprised.