Hand of Man Category Voting Analysis and Related Comments « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Hand of Man Category Voting Analysis and Related Comments

Hand of Man Category Voting Analysis and Related Comments

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

1-Great Egret on spillway by Ron Henderson: 23
2-Parrot in box by Charles Bergman: 21
3-Duckling and Lincoln Memorial by Matt Hansen: 18
4-Starling on broken lamp cover, David Bell: 17
5-Short-eared owl and wind turbines, Arni Stinnissen: 16
6-Burrowing Owl on wooden cross, Judd Patterson: 15
7-Bird on the fence, Blake Shaw: 14
T8-Black-tailed Godwit, Kevin Elsby: 13
T8-Jay on tombstone, Richard Cox: 13
T8-Penguins and ship, Christopher Marsham: 13
T11-Ring-billed Gull and plastic bottle cap, Rodney Flowers: 11
T11-Vultures on structure: Michael Leonard: 14
13-Kingfisher on barbed wire, Girish Vaze: 10

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

1-Great Egret on spillway by Ron Henderson: 183
2-Duckling and Lincoln Memorial by Matt Hansen: 165
3-Burrowing Owl on wooden cross, Judd Patterson: 101
T4-Parrot in box by Charles Bergman: 76
T4-Black-tailed Godwit, Kevin Elsby: 76
6-Kingfisher on barbed wire, Girish Vaze: 75
7-Penguins and ship, Christopher Marsham: 62
8-Jay on tombstone, Richard Cox: 54
9-Short-eared owl and wind turbines: Arni Stinnissen: 47
10-Bird on the fence, Blake Shaw:: 38
11-Starling on broken lamp cover, David Bell: 18
12-Vultures on structure, Michael Leonard: 16
13-Ring-billed Gull and plastic bottle cap: Rodney Flowers 5

Analysis of the Voting

When I posted the thirteen images for the public voting here I wrote, “So far the top pick of the public vote has matched the top pick of the judge’s panel in two of the three categories that have been posted; I suspect that the same will be true here despite that fact that there are again so many fine images.” As it turns out that I was right on the button. Great Egret on spillway was the pick of the litter and 3 of the four top vote-getters in each category were a match as well. What does that prove: a good image is a good image no matter who is looking at it.

Kudos to all whose images appear below and thanks to all who entered photographs in this hotly contested category. The images below are presented in the order of the judges’ placement along with my comments. I am sure that you will find my comments both interesting and educational, especially my constructive criticism of the first and second place images as voted by the judges’ panel.

Congratulations to Hand of Man Category Winner Ron Henderson of Dallas, TX. His “Great Egret on spillway” image was created at White Rock Lake in Dallas with the
Canon 70-200 mm f/2.8L IS lens (at 170mm) with the Canon EOS-5D Mark II rested on railing. ISO 100. Evaluative metering -1 1/3 stops: 1/10 sec. at f/32.

Great Egret on spillway by Ron Henderson

The strengths of this image include the graphic look created by the repeating pattern of the steps, the rich blue and gold tones, and the movement of the water. The Great Egret provided the perfect accent. Many great images might have been improved at capture; had Ron moved about three inches to his right he would have avoided the merge of the tip of the bird’s bill and the edge of the step….

Congratulations to Charles Bergman. His image, “Parrot in box” was awarded second prize in the Hand of Man Category in the BIRDS AS ART 1st Annual Bird Photography Competition. The bird in the box, a Blue-headed parrot chick (Pionus menstruus) was photographed on a small river in the Amazon Basin in eastern Ecuador. 24-120mm lens (at 42mm) with the Nikon D200. ISO 100: 1/40 sec. at f/11.

Parrot in box by Charles Bergman

The helpless, wet, disheveled parrot chick placed in the battered, equally bedraggled cardboard box combined to make this a powerful, story-telling image. The jungle setting and the young boatmen complete the story. Note that the perfect head angle strengthens our connection to the baby parrot. Again there was room for improvement at capture; had Charles moved a few feet to his left he could have placed the two men more on the right side of the frame to better balance the bird in the box. I believe that the resulting composition, which would have shown less of the boat, would have been even more powerful.

Congrats to Matt Hansen. His “Duckling and Lincoln Memorial ” image was awarded third place in the Hand of Man category. The Mallard duckling was photographed on May 23, 2010 as it emerged from the Reflecting Pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

Duckling and Lincoln Memorial by Matt Hansen

We are all fans of the underdog struggling to survive. Each of the many compositional elements from the crack in the sidewalk to seemingly interested folks to the huge marble structure in the background are perfectly positioned. Those, combined with the perfect timing that captured the splash, made this one a winner. Note that Matt chose to break a basic compositional guideline by having the subject look out of (rather than in to) the frame. With good reason!

I loved this one from the get-go. It was my second pick.

Starling on broken lamp cover, David Bell.

This unique image is nicely designed. Running a contrast mask on the broken glass would likely have improved this one.

Short-eared owl and wind turbines, Arni Stinnissen.

This beautifully conceived and designed image carries with it a powerful environmental message: wind turbines kill too many birds each year. The placement of the bird relative to the blades of the two turbines and beautiful dorsal view both added to the success of this image.

Burrowing Owl on wooden cross, Judd Patterson.

Burrowing Owls rarely land on natural perches. The bird’s raised wings and haughty attitude and Judd’s careful choice of perspective (that minimized the wooden cross) made this image a popular choice with all voters.

Bird on the fence, Blake Shaw.

Simplicity rules in this beautifully designed and elegant silhouette. And the pano crop was a perfect choice. I love the slight upward angle of the fence and the singing pose. It it were mine, I would have removed the pin needle (???) on the fence behind the bird.

Black-tailed Godwit, Kevin Elsby.

A gorgeous species (heck, I am a shorebird lover) set against a lovely soft background with swatches of color are the strengths of this image. Much of the time we strive to eliminate as much “hand of man” as possible from an image. In this case, for this category, including more of the fence post would have been a winning move.

Jay on tombstone, Richard Cox.

A beautiful bird in golden light set against a pleasing background are the big pluses here. The problem here for me is the exact opposite of the problem with the godwit image: too much hand of man. Had Richard pointed the lens up or executed a pano crop I am fairly sure that the resulting image would have been stronger. Not to mention some tombstone clean-up.

Penguins and ship, Christopher Marsham.

Christopher’s well composed image which features the juxtaposition of a group of Emperor Penguins with the ship in the background is quite interesting. The crossed flags are perfectly positioned in the frame. I feel that this image needed a bit more room all around.

Ring-billed Gull and plastic bottle cap, Rodney Flowers.

I really like the simplicity of this image. The bright sun was well handled, the raised wings added interest, and the bright blue plastic bottle cap with a bit of sand icing was the perfect hand of man touch.

Vultures on structure, Michael Leonard. 14

Here I love all the huge elements of the structure, especially the diagonal ones. The image is beautifully framed and designed, and Micheal did a great job of image processing as he dealt with mixed lighting. Though most of the birds are in the sun and some in the shade the image has a nice even (low contrast) look to it.

Kingfisher on barbed wire, Girish Vaze.

Barbed wire, a lovely bird, and a sweet background are the strengths of this image. A small crop from the left and below would have strengthened it as would a bit more head turn towards us. This image was much more popular with the public than with the panel of judges.

Questions and Comments Welcome

As always, your questions and comments are welcome. Lastly and as always, I would be glad to learn of any typos.

8 comments to Hand of Man Category Voting Analysis and Related Comments

  • Beautiful photos and nice graphic design skills. I’ll bookmark this blog for more of these. Keep up the good work!

  • David,
    thanks for appreciating my image of the kingfisher

    @ Art. I thought the head turn was ok as it was not close-cropped image in which the KF was the hero. i wanted to capture the color combination in the image and show it as a whole rather than just the kingfisher. Still, i value your comments and will try to improve.
    I totally agree that there were better, stronger entries.

    warm regards


    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Girish, Thanks for your note and YAW. Head angle always matters. I bust folks in out of the box for poor head angles and they cry, “But it’s out of the box.” No passes on head angle. Ever! All in all your image is a very fine one. What is the species? artie

  • I was delighted and flattered to learn that my image was one of the lucky 13. I took the starling picture. Sorry about the two names…I should have legally changed my name to Jack Breakfast many years ago, but never had the nerve. Anyhow, I was so very pleased to have my image among the 13; when I look at the other pictures, I feel as though I’m in very good company indeed. Many thanks to Arthur Morris and the judges. “Just being nominated” was a real shot in the arm for me…

  • David Policansky

    Artie: thanks for your (usual) generosity in sharing all this. Your comment about the framing of the bill of the bill of the egret on the spillway is the kind of thing that often haunts me. Fortunately in this image it’s minor, but sometimes I get so excited about the overall capture that I forget tonotice such details. There’s a lesson there. I wish I knew why the judges didn’t like the kingfisher as much as we did.


    • I forget that too. Thanks to Art’s lessons usually I’m able to catch these issues when I analyze a photo that has been already shot (mine or by another person), but I often fail to spot the problem in the viewfinder. A sort of helper strategy that I try to apply is just to shoot multiple frames of the same subject for a few seconds or minutes, just moving a bit – I mean, even when I don’t realize that there’s a compositional problem. At least I have more chances to pick later a best shot that minimizes any eventual issues. I feel that this is not very “pro”, a pro shoots with more awareness… but I’m not a pro 😉

      • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

        Fabrizio, You are right on the money: once everything is lined up just right it is best to create many images. I usually take bursts of three when everything is perfect and keep on doing that until the situation is less than perfect (that usually because the bird has flown away). 99% of the time a single image will stand out as clearly best of a seemingly identical series.

        ps: Pros miss lots of what’s in the viewfinder just like the rest of you…. The better the situation the more nervous I get and the more I miss. Sometimes I just want to kick myself :).

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      David, Likely, as per my comments, because the bird could have been tucked more into the lower left and because the head is turned a bit too much away from the line of the body. And because it was up against a very strong field.