Behavior Category Voting Analysis and Related Comments « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Behavior Category Voting Analysis and Related Comments

Behavior Category Voting Analysis and Related Comments

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

1-Grey Heron with fish, Vladimir Kogan: 20
2-African Fish-Eagle capture, Isak Pretorius: 19
3-Marbled Godwit with sand crab, Gaurav Mittal: 18
T4-Spectacled Spider-hunter displaying, Bjorn Olesen: 17
T4-Red-crowned Cranes calling in snow, Paul Mckenzie: 17
T4-African Jacana on the run with chicks, Lou Coetzer: 17
T4-Gymnogene (African Harrier-Hawk), Tommy Savage: 17
T4-Black-necked (Eared) Grebes mating, David Pattyn: 17
T9-Prairie Chicken displaying, David R. Neilson: 16
T9-Laysan Albatross feeding chick, Paul Mckenzie: 16
T9-Long-eared Owl threat display, Paul Bannick: 16
T9-Gull with stolen chick, Richard Pittam: 16
T9-Common Kingfisher with fish, Kevin Elsby: 16
T14-Scissor-tailed Flycatcher with beetle, Rolf Nussbaumer: 15
T14-Emperor Penguin Family, Marcello Libra: 15
T16-Thrush with caterpillar, Morteza Nemati
T16-Great-crested Grebes mating, David Pattyn
T16-Great Egret chicks, Cheryl Molennor

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

1-Spectacled Spider-hunter displaying, Bjorn Olesen: 155
2-Grey Heron with fish, Vladimir Kogan: 117
3-African Jacana on the run with chicks, Lou Coetzer: 60
4-Red-crowned Cranes calling in snow, Paul Mckenzie: 59
5-Common Kingfisher with fish, Kevin Elsby: 55
T6-Gymnogene (African Harrier-Hawk), Tommy Savage: 48
T6-Laysan Albatross feeding chick, Paul Mckenzie: 48
8-Long-eared Owl threat display, Paul Bannick: 44
9-African Fish-Eagle capture, Isak Pretorius: 42
10-Emperor Penguin Family, Marcello Libra: 41
11-Black-necked (Eared) Grebes mating, David Pattyn: 34
12-Scissor-tailed Flycatcher with beetle, Rolf Nussbaumer: 30
13-Prairie Chicken displaying, David R. Neilson: 24
14-Great Egret chicks, Cheryl Molennor: 23
15-Great-crested Grebes mating, David Pattyn: 15
16-Gull with stolen chick, Richard Pittam: 14
17-Thrush with caterpillar, Morteza Nemati; 11
18-Marbled Godwit with sand crab, Gaurav Mittal: 5

Analysis of the Voting

First off, even though this is the strongest category so far by a wide margin, fewed folks voted. By a large margin. Having to click on each image to enlarge it and then carefully considering your favorites take time. Perhaps some folks may begin to understand the amount of work that it took to get from more than 5,500 images down to 163. Judging is work. Hard work. Thanks to all who continue to put in the time to join us here.

When I posted the 18 images for the public voting in the Behavior Category here I suggested that the results of the judges votes as compared to the public vote might be quite different due to the large number of very strong images here. To some degree that was the case though Grey Heron with fish did very well with both groups. The biggest mystery to me was the Marbled Godwit with sand crab image which finished 3rd with the judges and last in the public vote. Why? I have no clue.

It would seem the individual geographical bias might have played a role in the judge’s voting. Peter Kes who helped with the initial culling has spent a ton of time in Africa; he was quite keen on the upside down African Harrier-Hawk. Mr. Morris, shorebird lover that he is, felt strongly about the Marbled Godwit. On a personal note, every time that I looked at the Spectacled Spider-hunter image I liked it a bit more than the previous time. I felt that David Pattyn’s Great-crested Grebes mating was the stronger of his two finals images, yet it wound up tied for last in the public vote. I wonder which of the two David fancies. Paul Mckenzie placed two images in the top 9 in the judges vote, and was even stronger in the public vote with 2 of the top 5 images.

I will sum up by saying that the judge’s panel seemed to favor images with the sweetest golden light.

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 many of you will find my comments both interesting and educational.

Grey Heron with fish, Vladimir Kogan.

The judges were thrilled by the sweet early evening light, the superb sharpness, the heron’s raised foot, the perfect view of the fish with its dorsal fin raised and open mouth, the absolutely perfect head angle, and by the pleasing image design with the bird framed nicely by the gold reflections at the top of the photograph.

African Fish-Eagle capture, Isak Pretorius

This image features beautiful control of a difficult exposure with detail in both the dark tones and the whites, nice detail in the far underwing, the perfect wing position–the full downstroke, a perfect head angle, a de-focused background, a killer splash with the complete hole in the water included, a suitable pano crop, and very sweet light.

Marbled Godwit with sand crab, Gaurav Mittal

I love shorebirds. I love this one for the golden early morning light and the raised wings with killer underwing detail. For its sharpness. The combination of blues and golds is too sweet, as is the white foam from a breaking wave. The sand crab in the bird’s beak is the icing on this third place cake. I felt that this one would have been even better with the placed a bit more to our right in the frame.

Spectacled Spider-hunter displaying, Bjorn Olesen

This obviously spectacular image features an incredibly sharp face, beautiful soft light coming through the raised wing feathers, and some lovely foliage especially the sharp stuff in the upper right. Had the bird not been well above the photographer this surely would have placed higher with the judges.

Red-crowned Cranes calling in snow, Paul Mckenzie

Mood, mood, mood. Falling snow, beautiful birds, mystical trees in the background and a lovely image design came together pretty much in perfection.

African Jacana on the run with chicks, Lou Coetzer

Spectacularly sharp with a perfect exposure. If only the feet of the chicks had not merged with the adult’s body and been more visible….

Gymnogene (African Harrier-Hawk), Tommy Savage

The somewhat mixed lighting was handled beautifully in post-processing. Getting a good look at the face when these birds are foraging upside down along a large branch is near-impossible. Only a view of the talons could have made this stronger.

Black-necked (Eared) Grebes mating, David Pattyn

Intimate behavior, soft light, razor sharpness, and a water level perspective are the strengths of this image. Under contest rules, cleaning up the vegetation in the water was allowed. For me doing so would have improved the artistic merits of an already very strong image.

Prairie Chicken displaying, David Neilson

David submitted several very strong images across several categories; it was difficult to choose the best one to move along. This one is pretty close to perfect: soft light, bowing pose, inflated purple sac, killer low angle, soft light, drooped wings, puffy white undertail coverts, raised tail and eyebrows, and a simply gorgeous bird displaying.

Laysan Albatross feeding chick, Paul Mckenzie

This outstanding image features soft light, interesting behavior, a clean background, and two perfect head angles.

Long-eared Owl threat display, Paul Bannick

A spectacular young bird in exhibiting a spectacular threat posture in a lovely setting make for a very strong image. Not clipping the feet in situations like this is to be commended.

Gull with stolen chick, Richard Pittam

Spectacular action and timing. Two perfect head angles with the hapless chick’s wings hanging down. Sharp as could be. Had the gull’s wings been raised this would have placed very high.

Common Kingfisher with fish, Kevin Elsby

This image features spectacular action and timing, flying water droplets, the nicely raised foot, and a beautiful bird and perch. A slight head turn towards us and a better look at the fish would have put this one over the top.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher with beetle, Rolf Nussbaumer

Strong points here include the soft light, the perfect head angle, the raised wings revealing beautiful underwing details, the namesake long tail, and what looks like a milkweed beetle snack.

Emperor Penguin Family, Marcello Libra

Getting to Snow Hill: about $15,000. Making a beautiful and intimate image: priceless. A bit more space all around and a better look at the chick’s face would have improved this one.

Thrush with caterpillar, Morteza Nemati

Sharp as a razor. Perfect subject to sensor juxtaposition. And a fuzzy caterpillar are all pluses here. The out-of-focus foreground rocks are a distraction. Ideally the bird would have been standing on the highest point of the rock its on giving us a better view of the feet.

Great-crested Grebes mating, David Pattyn

There are lots of positives with this image: the male’s raised crest and open bill, the position of the female’s head, the soft light, and the low perspective. The stringy vegetation above and to the left of the female’s head are distracting (and could have been removed). As could the dark spots on the male’s breast. Lastly, a bit more light on the male’s head would have been ideal.

Great Egret chicks, Cheryl Molennor

This is superbly done. The huge challenge with this type of image is getting two perfect head angles with a nice juxtaposition. Check. Check. Two sharp eyes and sufficient depth-of-field add. The slightly uneven light/dark portions of the background above the chicks is mildly distracting.


Congratulations to all above for sharing their excellent images with us.

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3 comments to Behavior Category Voting Analysis and Related Comments

  • Steve Maxson

    Congrats to all the photographers – these are outstanding images!

    I just wanted to point out that David Neilson’s excellent image is not a Prairie Chicken – but rather something even more cool and rare. It is a hybrid between a Prairie Chicken and a Sharp-tailed Grouse and shows characteristics of both species.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Steve. Would you be so kind as to point out the ID characteristics of the two species?

  • Arla

    The godwit was low on my list because for me, the crab doesn’t stand out and therefore doesn’t have a lot of impact. It’s small and is against the body of the bird and virtually the same color. The heron and kingfisher images are more dramatic with the fish clearly defined and recognizable. I thought the heron also was stronger with the reflection in the water and so was the kingfisher with the droplets of water and the up-raised foot.

    Of course, this is all relative because every image in the finals was awesome.