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

And the Winners in the Captive Category, Are!

Congratulations to Stan Hoyt. His image of a Toco Toucan is the frst prize winner in the Captive category of the BIRDS AS ART 1st International Bird Photography Competition.

Toco Toucan: Stan Hoyt

Stan’s toucan image was voted first by the contest judges in the Captive category receiving 23 out of a possible 25 points. It just edged out Alain Pascua’s fine Great Philippine Eagle image below that scored 21 out of the possible 25 points. Interestingly enough it was also the first choice in the public voting receiving a total of 444 points, just beating out Alain’s Philippine Eagle below which garnered 429 points. As just one of the five finals contest judges I can say that I like the bold colors, the sharpness, the black background, the unusual perspective, the image design, and that wicked eye highlight.

Here is the e-mail that we received from Stan:

Dear Artie, Peter, and Denise.

Wow! This is one email I never expected to receive. I am deeply honored that one of my photos is being considered. I have already uploaded the raw and the optimized images. Here is the information you requested.

Bird Species: Toco Toucan
Location: Alligator Farm, St. Augustine, FL
When: June 23, 2006 at 3:31 PM
Details: Canon 20D, 300mm f4 @f7.1, 1/640 sec., ISO 200, -1 1/3 exp. comp., evaluative metering, AI Servo AF, handheld

Having already enjoyed a morning of photography at the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine, Florida, I returned in mid-afternoon, intending to go straight to the rookery. I took only a few steps past the entrance when my attention was captured by a toco toucan in a large screened enclosure. This beautiful bird was quite active, taking an interest in its surroundings, including the people passing by. Stopping to admire, I began to experiment by taking hand-held images from different locations and angles. The jungle foliage in the enclosure softened the afternoon sun, but also created a lot of dapplied sunlight and shadow. My camera kept wanting to focus on the fine dark mesh of the screen rather than the bird, and I wondered whether any of the images I took would be usable. It wasn’t until I got home and reviewed them on my computer that I saw that not only were several images acceptably sharp but noted that the mesh had created a peculiar cross-hatched catchlight that set off the toucan’s bold eye.

Congratulations to Alain Pascua. His Great Philippine Eagle image was awarded second prize in the Captive category of the BIRDS AS ART 1st International Bird Photography Competition.

Great Philippine Eagle, Alain Pascua.

Alain’s eagle was voted second by the contest judges in the Captive category. It received 21 out of a possible 25 points. It placed second in the public vote as well scoring 429 points. As one of five Finals judges I can say that this majestic and regal species along with its raised crest caught my attention from the moment that I saw it. If you have any suggestions on how this image could have been improved within the rules of the contest please leave a comment.

Here is what we heard from Alain:

English Name: Great Philippine Eagle
Common Name: Haring Ibon (Filipino, meaning King Bird), Monkey-eating Eagle (former English name)
Scientific Name: Pithecophaga jefferyi
Conservation Status: Critically Endangered
Range: Endemic to the Philippines, restricted in Eastern Luzon, Samar, Leyte and Mindanao
Location: Philippine Eagle Center, Davao City, Mindanao, Philippines
Date Photographed: June 11, 2010
Equipment: Canon EOS 50D, Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM, Benro GH-1 Gimbal Head and Tripod
Settings: 1/160 sec, f/5.6, ISO 800, Evaluative Metering, Manual Exposure in Available Light

I photograph birds in the wild, in their natural habitat, but with the difficulty of finding the Great Philippine Eagle in the wild brought about by its dwindling population and the difficult terrains in a few areas where it could be sighted, I contented myself in photographing it in captivity. I have to overcome the obstructions of cages, iron bars and wires though, so I timed my visit to the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao City in Mindanao during the celebration of Philippine Eagle Week when one of the Great Philippine Eagles is usually brought out of the cage and displayed at a public area. My focus was to capture the image of a majestic, royal, kingly and proud Great Philippine Eagle lording over the depressions of captivity, and fittingly portraying its stature as national bird of the Philippines and the largest eagle in the world. I spent the whole day at the breeding center, patiently waited for visitors to come and for feeding time during which periods the eagle was most active with its lion mane-like head crest standing up for seconds. I clicked more than a thousand shots and packed up only when I was contented enough that one of my images have truly captured and given justice to this great bird. That was on June 11, 2010, the eve of the celebration of the Philippine’s 112th National Independence Day, a very fitting day to pay homage to Haring Ibon – the Lord of the Forest and the King of Birds.

Congrats to Eric A. Rosen. His Great Horned Owl on curved branch was awarded third place in the Captive category of the BIRDS AS ART 1st International Bird Photography Competition.

Eric A. Rosen, Great Horned Owl on curved branch

Eric’s owl image was voted third by the contest judges in the Captive category. In somewhat of a surprise to me it finished 8th in the public voting (but only 19 points out of fifth place). I love the curved branch, the puffy white clouds, the great look at those huge talons, Eric’s choice of perspective, and the use of flash to even out the exposure. Selectively lightening the subject would have yielded an even stronger image.

From Eric via e-mail:

I created this image of a captive, non-releasable Great Horned Owl using a handheld Nikon D300 with the Nikkor 18-200mm telephoto lens (hand held at 42mm) and some fill flash. I volunteer my services as a photographer for a non-profit organization that rehabilitates birds that have been hurt; some of the birds are injured so badly that they can never be released back into the wilderness. This photo was taken in February 2010 at a private ranch in Ojai, CA.


Congrats to all who placed images in the top ten in the Captive category. You can see all ten honored images here. 210 images made the next to last cut. Only ten went to the judges. Getting to the final round is quite an accomplishment. The seven photographers who survived to the final round of judging are invited to leave a comment and let us know about their honored image. Note that each of the top three images was created with a focal length of less than 400mm. And all were made locally, near the photographers home.

Prizes (see below) will be shipped once all the winners are announced as several folks had more than one top three images. Be sure to patronize our sponsors; without them, this contest would not exist. More educational stuff from the Contest coming soon.

Captive Category Prizes
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choice of lens plate P-5 camera body plate Plamp Wimberley
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$30 Discount Certificate $25 Discount Certificate $20 Discount Certificate Canvas On Demand
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Canon/Nikon Lens Plate Canon/Nikon Camera Body Plate . 4th Generation Design
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24 comments to And the Winners in the Captive Category, Are!

  • leigh bierd

    leigh bierd
    thanks to artie , denise , and peter , both my shots were local to me “hamilton southern ontario ” my barred owl was taken at the montsberg conservation area near campbellville ontario, with nikon d90 , f/5.6 , 1/750 sec. iso 400 with my 70 – 200 2.8 . my red tail was at the canadian raptor conservancy simcoe ontario, shot with my d3 and 200-400 @200mm. ,f/4 , iso 200, 1/2500 sec. , -0.7ev , both set ups on a gitzo tripod with the kirk bh1 ball head and the wimberly sidekick . again thanks a wonderfull job by all .
    p.s. one day i hope i can become a happy camper , leigh

  • Patty Corapi

    I want to say that I am honored and priveledged to be the owner of “Flamingo Head & Neck.” I was so surprised to see it when I opened up the blog entry. The flamingo was at the Flamingo Gardens in Davie FL which is a wonderful garden and small zoological park. I discovered it while doing scouting work for a program on places to go for the members of the Indian River Photo Club presentation I was doing.

    The photo was shot with a Canon 7D and the 100-400mm at 285mm. Settings were ISO 400, 1/1250 at f/5.6 with some fill flash. I had the tripod with me that day, but honestly I can’t remember if I used it on that shot as I was doing both that day. The flamingo was bathing and it came up this time with the feathers all puffed up, I was rewarded with this wonderful pose and sweet background.

    Again, thanks for the wonderful honor. And Artie – I thank you for all you have taught me over the years.

    Congrats to the other winners as well. Everyone did a wonderful job.

  • Julian Mole

    Congratulations to Stan. A deserved victory in my opinion – a really colourful and eye catching image! 🙂

  • Andy Hays, Delray Beach, FL

    Artie,main man,

    Congratulations to you for the creativity and extensive use of your resources to launch and manage a unique and much appreciated photo contest.

    Disregard the unjustified and profoundly petty carping from the small-potatoes comments of the dweebish few. Those malcontented experts on methodology for photographic judging of thousands of image entries owe you an apology. We can only conclude that the whining guy who groused the most shoots his images with his telephone.

    Your generous and continued contribution to our photographic obsession deserve our gratitude.
    For a major, well-executed effort in our behalf, thanks.

    Andy Hays

  • leigh bierd

    thanks to artie and all the judges , even though i am from the dark side ” nikon ” i am always on the birds as art site along with Nikon dSLR User’s Guide and all the wealth of info a beginner can utilize , nice to see what other eyes see although my bald eagle coming in for the kill did not make the final 10 , i was surprised that my red tail and barred owl did and the more i look at the barred owl the more i like it , so i will keep readin the blog and shootin and hope i have something worthy for next year keep up the great work , thanks artie.
    ps thanks to for rear button focus; i love it

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Howdy, Is your name Leigh Bierd? Where are you from? I loved both of your honored images but as you can see they were up against some very strong competition.

      Please let us know where you took each image and what gear you used. And congrats on having two honored images in the top ten.

  • Well deserved win. It was my #1 shot out of the finalists, although I think they all are absolutely superb!

  • Peter Kes

    Congratulations to all winners. You’ve earned it and it was fun reviewing your images.

  • Gordon Lindsay

    Congratulations to the winners, I got it right, has to be a first time for everything I guess.

  • Alex

    Fantastic, all very inspirational and congratulations to the winners 🙂

  • cheapo

    Excellent and stunning images all! What fun for the entrants to have even been selected for the final judging! I would have been over the moon to have taken any of these pictures. I was too late to give a vote, but was torn between the Toucan the sleeping waterfowl and the Great Philipine Eagle. The toucan for it’s amazing artistic qualities and the sleeper for the wonderfully soft appearance, colours and detail, and the G P Eagle for it’s sharpness and wow factor. Super choices from the judges. Congrats all round, and specially to you Artie for hosting this whole thing. I’m looking forward to the next set. 🙂

  • Pleased to say I picked the wonderful Toucan image as my favorite, too, and the Philippine Eagle and the Owl as 3 and 4 on my list. Congrats to all the winners on the great images.

    I was honored to have my image of Paige, the Bald Eagle, in the finalists. Paige is cared for by the Florida Audubon Society since she can’t be released after her injury. She was on display in Greg Downing’s workshop at the Florida Birding and Photography Festival on St. Augustine Beach. In two degrees of separation, Artie “introduced” me to Greg at one of Artie’s workshops when he mentioned a new nature photo critique site that was just about to start up. That was nine years ago!

    Paige’s image was taken with a Canon 50D and 300/2.8 + 1.4x. f5 at 1/160, ISO 200.

    The contest has started with a bang and I look forward to seeing the other category finalists and winners. Thanks for hosting a terrific event.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Paul for filling us in. Only six more to go. Right now the premier educational nature photography site is Bird Photographer’s.Net; have you posted there? We strive to avoid becoming just another “Great Shot” forum by providing honest critiques done gently. Here’s a link to the Avian Forum:

      And thanks for your kind words and good wishes? Ah, last question: hand held or tripod?

      • Yes, Artie, it certainly would’ve been on a tripod with that combo at 1/160. I’m not sure what equipment I had there, but my guess is a Bogen tripod and Arcatech head. Love that little head, though that lens is a bit much for it.
        Thanks for the BPN reminder and I’ll try to get some posts there soon.

        • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          Thanks Paul, And thanks for your good sportsmanship! As for the Acratech head, two clients showed up with them at St. Augustine one year. I tried to help them but was so frustrated that I wanted to throw the heads into the moat. And them too! I loaned them each a Mongoose M3.6 and they each went home with one of their own. The M3.6 is perfect for all intermediate telephotos and telephoto zooms and for virtually all super-telephotos as well. I use one with my 800 f/5.6L IS every day that I am out there.

          • Paul Klenck

            Don’t disparage the Arcatech too much. 😉 It is a fine, low cost, light weight head. But it certainly has its limitations. I just keep that tripod/head combo at my mother’s house in Florida, so when I visit I can just take carry ons and not have to pack too heavy! If I know I’ll be doing a lot of shooting, I’ll take a more useful combo. Not ideal, but in a pinch and carefully handled, the Arcatech can stretch beyond its designed uses. It can try your patience though!

            I prefer to photograph albatross rather than have one around my neck in the form of a tripod head that makes it extremely difficult to make images without having my patience tried…. That’s why I recommend the Mongoose M3.6. I always choose efficient over inefficient, but heck, that’s just me. 🙂

  • Congratulations to the winners and to the others in the top 10!

  • Mark Hendricks

    Great job by all!

  • Congrats to the winners – well earned!

  • Charles J. Scheffold

    Wow I’m shocked – my votes were spot on. I had the 2nd and 3rd swapped though 😉

    As for Artie’s comment about improving the Great Philippine Eagle… If it were mine, I probably would have cloned out some of the distracting elements in the background, especially the white spots. I might also have considered lightening up the top of the eyes a bit as well. Very minor though. It’s a beautiful image!

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I noticed that. The cream always rises to the top (no matter who’s judging!)

  • Congratulations to the winners. All of the images that made it to the final round were spectacular!!