BIRDS AS ART 2nd International Bird Photography Competition Pleasing Blurs Category Winners & the Readership Vote « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

BIRDS AS ART 2nd International Bird Photography Competition Pleasing Blurs Category Winners & the Readership Vote

The Streak Continues: 166

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This post took 1 1/2 hours to put together. Enjoy!


First Place: Hooded Cranes/29 points

Hooded Cranes

Congratulations to Seungho Cho.


Second Place: Cape Petrel/28 points

Cape Petrel

Congratulations to Paul McKenzie.


Third Place: Cinereous Vulture/25 points

Cinereous Vulture

Congratulations to Seungho Cho.

Pleasing Blurs Category Prizes

Thanks a stack to our great sponsors. Please note that prizes will not be sent until all of the category winners and the Grand Prize winner have been announced.

Pleasing Blurs
First Prize Second Place Highly Commended Sponsor
Summer Weight Kwik Camo Throw-over Blind . . Essential Photo Gear
A Guide to Pleasing Blurs . . BIRDS AS ART
$100 Gift Certificate . . Outdoor Photo Gear
$150 Gift Certificate $75 Gift Certificate $40 Gift Certificate B&H PHOTO VIDEO
$60 Gift Certificate $40 Gift Certificate $25 Gift Certificate Delkin Devices
Level 3 Gift Subscription Level 2 Gift Subscription Level 1 Gift Subscription Nature Photographer Magazine
$75 Gift Certificate $50 Gift Certificate $25 Gift Certificate Lens Coat


First Runner Up: Bald Eagle in Snow/24 points

Bald Eagle in Snow

Congratulations to Clemens Van der Werf.


Second Runner-up: Gull in Norway/22 points

Gull in Norway

Congratulations to Felipe Foncueva.


Third Runner-up: White Stork/19 points

White Stork

Congratulations to Reto Puppetti.


Fourth Runner-up: White Stork Legs/16 points

White Stork Legs

Congratulations to Reto Puppetti.


Getting even a single image to the final round of judging in any category is a huge accomplishment. All of the photographs in the Pleasing Blurs finals were extremely creative. Ironically the only image not to receive a first place vote in the public ballot was the First Place image selected by the judges. Amazingly, the winning Hooded Cranes image finished a distant last in the public voting. Go figure. This was the first category where the contest winner was not selected first by the public. Congrats again to all the winning and honored photographers.

Thanks to all the readers who voted. And thanks again to our sponsors and to the panel of judges. Special thanks to Denise Ippolito and Peter Kes who helped me with the early rounds of judging. Please feel free to comment on the any of the images or to analyze and compare the judging; please remember that judging any contest or voting on the images is purely subjective.

Though I liked the vulture best in this category I loved the creativity of the two stork images.

The Public Vote

1-Gull in Norway: 87 points.
2-Cape Petrel: 85 points.
3-White Stork: 83 points.
4-Bald Eagle in Snow: 67 points.
5-Cinereous Vulture: 60 points.
6-White Stork Legs: 49 points.
7-Hooded Cranes: 39 points.


I hope that you can join us on this great trip. The vertical puffin image was created by David Tipling. The rest–almost all from the UK, are mine :).

UK Puffins and Gannets IPT July 2-9, 2014. 5 full days of puffins and two half-days of gannet boat photography: $4,999 USD. Limit 10 + the 2 leaders.

Desperately needed: 1 female and 1 male roommate. Please inquire as to the roommate-needed discount.

Fly to Edinburgh (say “ED-in-BUR-row”), Scotland on a red eye flight on July 1st arriving on the early morning of July 2 or certainly before 10am. UK folks who plan on driving please contact me via e-mail immediately.

There are direct flights to Edinburgh from both Philadelphia and Toronto. If you learn of any others please advise via e-mail so that I may share with all the interested folks. Fly home mid-morning on July 9. UK locals and our many European friends are of course welcome.

With the needed 5 deposits in hand, this trip is a go; you can buy your flights now :).

What’s included:

5 full DAYS on the best UK puffin boat; trips to 2 different islands–all dependent on decent weather, i.e, no major storms. Seabirds including scads of Atlantic Puffin both in flight and perched, Razorbill, Great Cormorant, Shag, and others likely. The trip is timed to maximize the opportunities for photographing the puffins bringing fish back to the nests. All boat fares and landing fees are included. The boat leaves at 9:30am. We have two hours on the first island. We are then picked up and head to the 2nd island for a 2+ hour session. The weather is typically cloudy bright.

One late-afternoon (2 July) and one early morning (probably 8 July) trip on a gannet photography boat where the birds are fed and dive very close to the boat. Both are dependent on good weather but we do have some flexibility. Boat fares and the cost of the fish are covered. Each will consist of a one hour outbound ride, two hours of diving Northern Gannet photography (with 6 boxes of fish) and the one hour return trip.

The tentative, weather-dependent itinerary:

July 2: airport pick-up no later than 10am UK time. Lunch on your dime. Drive to hotel. Afternoon gannet boat trip/time TBD.
July 3, 4, 5, 6, & 7: Full Day Puffin Boat trips as noted above.
July 8: early morning Gannet Boat trip. Afternoon: Small group Image review and Photoshop sessions. Pack for the trip home.
July 9: early morning departure for Edinburgh Airport (EDI).

The itinerary is subject to change to ensure the best possible photographic opportunities.

A super-telephoto lens is not required on this trip. The 300mm f/2.8s are ideal. I will be bringing one along with my 200-400mm with Internal Extender, my 70-200 f/2.8L IS II, and a shorter zoom lenses. Plus three 1.4X and two 2X TCs, a Gitzo 3532 LS Carbon Fiber tripod, and my Mongoose M3.6. I may go tripod-less on the puffin trips at times…. Or not…. All photography on the gannet boat will be hand held. It is likely that the 70-200s will be ideal for the gannets.

7 nights lodging in an older but excellent hotel just a few minutes from the puffin boat dock with about a 70 minute ride to the gannet boat. Double occupancy will be the rule though we might be able to offer a single supplement at an exorbitant price. See the hotel info here.

All breakfasts and dinner (at the hotel) from dinner on July 2 through dinner on July 8. And breakfast on our get-away day unless we need to leave earlier than they serve to make our flights home…

Airport pick-up until 10am on July 2–this should not be a problem as there are lots of red-eye flights from the US to Edinburgh.

All ground transportation. Airport return on the early morning of July 9. We may be getting up very early on July 9th.

Two great leaders; Denise Ippolito and yours truly will provide personalized and small group in-the-field instruction. As usual, the closer you stay to us and the more questions that you ask the more you will learn. We will of course point out the best situations. You will learn to see these great situations for yourself, to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, to work in Manual mode, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. You will learn the basics of photographing birds in flight and how the relationship between light direction and wind direction impacts the photography of both birds in flight and perched puffins. And tons more.

We will be conducting informal, small group image review and Photoshop sessions after dinner. All are invited to bring their laptops. Image critiques of your five best images will be done after the trip upon request.

Early morning castle photography right near the hotel is an option for the early risers. In the event of inclement weather or stormy seas there is the possibility of bird photography along the coast. Early evening bird photography along the coast is also optional.

Not included: all lunches–for the most part we will need to pack lunches for the puffin trips, or you may opt to skip lunch. Your round trip airfare from home to Scotland. Booze, wine, and any other beverages other than coffee and tea at breakfast.

A non-refundable deposit of $2,000 USD is required to hold your spot so please check on flights and your schedule before committing. The balance will be due on 15 May so you may wish to pay the whole thing at once. Overseas folks may e-mail for wire transfer info. Our $15 wire transfer fee will be added to your balance.

Trip insurance is highly recommended as your deposit (less a $200 cancellation fee) will not be refunded unless the trip fills completely. I, and my family, use Travel Insurance Services.

After letting us know via e-mail that you will be coming, please send your deposit check made out to “Arthur Morris” to us as follows:

Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
PO Box 7245 (US mail) or 4041 Granada Drive (if by courier).
Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855

My friend David Tipling, with multiple BBC honored images and the author of dozens of photo illustrated books, helped with the planning and arrangements for this trip.

If you have any questions, please contact me via e-mail.

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4 comments to BIRDS AS ART 2nd International Bird Photography Competition Pleasing Blurs Category Winners & the Readership Vote

  • avatar Paul Mckenzie

    Thanks Conrad. I should add on the Cape Petrel image that 1) the ship with pitching and rolling in a heavy swell; 2) I used a little fill flash set to rear curtain sync which helped accentuate the streaking effect and 3) I needed to take several hundred images over the course of a few days to get the image I was after: a reasonably sharp bird with a blurred and most importantly, fairly uniform blue background without large streaks of white spray.

  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Artie, and thanks as always. I think these results point out an issue with the category’s name, “Pleasing blurs.” Apparently, what pleased us voters wasn’t what pleased the judges. You know, only this category has a value-laden descriptor (“pleasing”). All the rest are objective (e.g., small in the frame, flight, portrait, and so on). I wonder if you might consider replacing the word “pleasing” with a neutral descriptor, or even none (just call it “Blurs”). Let me echo your congratulations to all the photographers; wonderful images all.

    When I was a kid in Cape Town I used to go fishing on my father’s boat and in winter I was always delighted by the incredible diversity of seabirds, including Cape petrels and many species of albatross, including wandering albatrosses. Cape gannets were my favorite seabirds there, as northern gannets are my favorite seabirds in this country. The only obvious difference I can remember is that Cape gannets have black-tipped tails, like their wings. Our gannets have white tails.

  • I’m glad that the Cape Petrel did well. I’d love to know how that image was created. Was it from a boat, plane, balloon…? 🙂

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      It was created from the stern of a ship in the Southern Ocean. Do join me there this December. See here for more on that :). You only live once! artie