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

And the Winners in the Digital Category, Are!

Congratulations to Digital Category Winner Jeff Rugg of Montgomery, Illinois, USA ( “Yellow-rumped Warbler Art.” The winter plumage yellow-rumped image was created at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, North Carolina with a tripod-mounted Canon 100-400 L IS (at 400mm) with the Canon EOS-30D. ISO 400: 1/350 sec. at f/5.6 in Av mode.

Yellow-rumped Warbler Art, Jeff Rugg

Jeffโ€™s forethought and creativity in assembling this composite image were indeed remarkable. The soft watercolor look and the various filters that he used added up to our Digital category winner.

From Jeff:

It was a very windy and cold morning as a thunderstorm had gone through at dawn. This normally very active warbler found a protected location out of the wind and sat long enough for me to take several pictures. I liked this one because the bird was looking at me. I created the self-portrait of my own hand in my home against a plain background. I worked with at least 13 layers in Photoshop CS-5 where I did most of the artistic/creative work. I used the new Pencil Tool in a trial version of Photoshop CS-6 for some of the pencil sketch work.

Congratulations to Brendan Dozier. His “Coot Chick Pair Digital Creation” was awarded second prize in the Digital Category in the BIRDS AS ART 1st Annual Bird Photography Competition. The birds were photographed at Guajome Lake, Oceanside, CA with the hand held Canon EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens, the 2X II teleconverter, and the Canon EOS-7D. ISO 700: 1/250 sec. at f/14.

Coot Chick Pair Digital Creation, Brendan Dozier

The lovely juxtaposition of the too-cute American Coot chicks, two perfect head angles, the bright colors, and the Pixel Bender oil paint effect combined to make this image stand out in a category crowded with creative entries. Brendan took an image created in less than ideal light, added a huge crop and some digital expertise and imagination to create something special. (Note: as far as the huge crop, anything goes in our Digital Category.)

From Brendan:

I had never seen coot chicks before and was thrilled to be able to capture these adorable little ones at a local lake. Loved their wild feathers and bright coloring. Moving slowly I got as close to the waters edge as I could and lay down on my side. Unfortunately the chicks did not venture out of the reeds until late morning so the light was a bit harsh. I was wishing that I had a bit longer lens. Not having the best image quality after a large crop, I decided that the original image would be a good candidate for an artistic filtering treatment as I really wanted to highlight those crazy feathers and colors. So I did some levels and color adjustments in CS5, darkened and cloned out a few areas in background and foreground, and applied Pixel Bender filter “oil” setting from Adobe Labs. Some touching up of eyes and sharpening resulted in the finished image.

Congrats to Indranil Sircar. His “White Pelican Squadron” creation was awarded third place in the Digital category. He photographed the small flock of 6 American White Pelicans at Don Edwards NWR, Milpitas, CA with the Sigma 50-500mm lens (on the Mongoose M3.5) and the Canon EOS-40D. ISO 400: 1/2000 sec. at f/8.

White Pelican Squadron, Indranil Sircar

The musical arrangement of the subjects, the soft light, the lovely choice of a complementary background texture, enough depth of field to cover all the birds, and the subtle reflections are the strengths of this image.

From Indranil:

I created the base image of these Pelicans flying in formation early one morning when the water was calm. The pelicans where flying low and I tracked them as they approached to land on a small island in one of the salt ponds. For a brief moment there was separation among all the pelicans and I got my image! I cropped the image slightly and removed a tide line and some spots of debris in the background. I enhanced the in Dynamic Auto Painter (DAP) and then tweaked it in Photoshop using multiple layers. I reduced the opacity of the painted layer to about 30% to bring out more of the original image and then used a layer mask and painted over the pelicans to further reveal the original image.

Of Note

Not surprisingly two of the three honored photographers in the Digital Creations category–Brendan and Indranil–are regulars in the Out-of-the-Box forum at BirdPhotographers.Net where Indranil is one of three Moderators led by Denise Ippolito who has been doing yeoman work there for more than two years.

On Grammar…

Brendan originally e-mailed: “….moving slowly, and laid down on my side.”

I am as confused as anyone on the correct usage of lay and lie so I did an online search and come wound here at the Oxford Dictonary. “Lie or lay? Laying down the law on some puzzling verbs” is the finest treatment of the subject that I have come across. I have book-marked it.


Congrats to all who placed images in the top ten in the Digital Creations category. It was a very popular category with 301 images making the first cut. You can see the nineteen images that were sent to the judges here. Getting to the final round is quite an accomplishment. 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. There will be more educational stuff from this category coming soon.

Digital Creations
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
. Double Bubble . HP Marketing
BLUBB . . Vertex Photographic
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Sito HD Version Gold Web Site Sito HD

22 comments to And the Winners in the Digital Category, Are!

  • Cheryl Slechta

    Huge congratulations to Jeff, Brendan and Indranil!! And thanks, Artie, for a fantastic contest. I know a lot of work went into it. It was much fun ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Congratulations guys! Wonderful images and great competition. Well done!

  • Congratulations to all of the winners and to all that stepped out of the box and entered this category! Well done ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Congratulations to Jeff, Indranil and all of those who were selected as finalists. Wonderful, creative images, and an honor to be included with such a talented group of artists. One of my favorites was the Black-capped Chickadee. Thanks to all the folks at BPN Out of the Box forum for creating such an inspirational and enjoyable learning environment! Want to thank Artie and all the volunteers, sponsors for making the contest possible. Thanks also for the the grammar lesson and correction, Artie!

  • Three outstanding images out of 19 outstanding images. All really inspiring. Believe I will dust off my filters folder. Congratulations!

  • Maureen Allen

    Big big congratulations to Jeff, Brendan and Indranil. Wonderful images and well deserved recognition!

  • Pablo Fernicola

    Congrat to all!

    I presonally loved the Indranil’s โ€œWhite Pelican Squadron”.


  • Huge congrats to Jeff, Brendan and Indranil…wonderful creativity and very much deserved. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Congratulations to the winners! Wonderful work. As a full-time Dare County, NC resident, I am so excited to see that the original photograph that inspired the winning entry was taken on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. While we don’t have the density of birds that some other places do, our area does offer some incredible photographic opportunities for nature in general and certain birds in particular depending on season. I’ve wished for years that your travels would bring you to the Outer Banks, Artie, to see if the area offers enough for a workshop!

  • These digital photos are truly an inspiration of what can be accomplished with the tools available to us. I’m very impressed. Would the winners be willing to share the original image to demonstrate how far you can go with edits on images some of us might discard? If that detracts from the final artistic accomplishments, I understand. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • cheapo

      Ah, but surely one would work on a good image rather than a discard. After all, it’s not likely that you’ll spoil the original. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Congrats to all. very well deserved.

  • Bill Richardson

    Number one is a great piece, very creative and well done. The coot chicks are my favorite though. I would hang that one on my wall. Really appreciated the descriptions of the work done too.

  • Charles Scheffold

    Another fine group of images – I didn’t vote this time but #1 was an easy pick. The rest were tough. Looking forward to more!

  • Jeff

    I want to thank the Academyโ€ฆ Actually, I want to thank the Judges, especially Arthur Morris who has been an instrumental part of my development as a photographer. I appreciate his work in creating a substantial amount of free and low cost photographic instruction and being a ready resource for so many photographers. I want to also thank Cheapo, Mark Hendricks, and Stan Hoyt for their kind words on my Yellow-rumped Warbler Art, as they judged this category. Congratulations to Brendan and Indranil, and the other photographers who made the final cut.

    P.S. Since I am not a Facebook person, you have my permission to post a small version on your wall, but this is Artieโ€™s contest and you must follow any rules he decides.

    • cheapo

      Thanks Jeff. Though I must tell you that I wasn’t a judge, just a regular commenter on the blog. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Best regards, Cheapo Pete.

  • cheapo

    I posted a link to this page on my Facebook wall, I hope that’s okys with all. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • cheapo

    Woohoo! Congrats to the winners! I have to concurr with the number one spot. Truly creative and sweetly executed. And the runners up are also excellent. As I mentioned when I made my choices, I was not happy to set one above the other for at least 6 or 7 of the competitors. Well done to all! ๐Ÿ™‚