Have you ever asked the question “is that photograph real?” Part of the answer lies in the fact that serious photography is a creative medium. Altering an image has always been part of the genre. Today, software provides tools that far outstrip the limited techniques such as dodge and burn available to the pioneers who processed film negatives. However, even they were aware that honesty in photography meant not deceiving viewers as to exactly how an image was captured and presented. With bird, wildlife and natural landscape photography, viewers have an expectation that images will provide a realistic glimpse into the natural world. It’s not hard to create false impressions through the use of captives, attraction “set pieces” or by making alterations to the point that the end result is not a true representation of the original exposure. There is nothing inherently wrong with either “contrived” or “creative” images as long as the viewer is informed of the specific techniques used. This levels the playing field and allows both parties to assess the merits or shortfalls of the images as presented. Please read our Ethics synopsis for a more detailed treatment of these issues.
As it’s too difficult for us to qualify each of our posted images individually, we offer the following disclaimers. All images in our Galleries were captured in the wild. Most have been cropped and color adjusted for presentation purposes. A few have had minor distractions such as conflicting habitat removed, again for presentation purposes. If our colors seem slightly saturated or our crops tighter than the accepted rules of composition, this is our style. Our basic objectives are to capture images that translate detail, behavior and the natural habitat of our subjects with the intent of producing Web graphics to share with others. We are trying to bring the subject to “life” in a natural setting, hopefully providing viewers with a more intimate look at what is normally much more difficult to see with the naked eye.
For the most part we are pure habitat photographers. However, we do enjoy the odd side trip and at times create a “set piece” where we photograph from a blind. This is a controlled photography experience where birds are attracted to a perch using water, suet or seeds. The objective is to attract the bird to a natural setting where such factors as light and background can be controlled in a safe and nonstressful environment. All images in Galleries 9, 15, 28 and 39 are set pieces. Some of the images taken in our backyard and presented in Galleries 64 and 66 were created in a set environment. No bird calls or sound recordings were used. The sole exception is where we have used a wireless high-speed flash setup to photograph hummingbirds. Certain raptors can also be attracted by “baiting” open field or water locations using animal organs, live mice or fish. Although this is controversial subject (again, refer to our Ethics synopsis), we have enjoyed the experience but feel it must be conducted by an experienced, knowledgeable guide. The flight images in Gallery 52 were baited. Lastly, amalgamating two images has long been a mainstay of creative photography. The flowers used in some images in Galleries 24 and 66 were taken separately and inserted for presentation purposes. A similar technique was used to insert clouds in two Osprey nesting images in Gallery 48. The Black Bears in Gallery 58 were photographed at the Shute Wildlife Sanctuary near Orr, Minnesota. Although they are wild and free roaming, the American Bear Association provide secure, elevated viewing stands that overlook feeding stations used to attract bears that are in the area during the early spring and summer months. As Black Bears are extremely dangerous and difficult subjects to photograph at the best of times, we feel this is the best venue in North America to not only view but also safely obtain better than average images.
Now that you know what you are looking at, we hope you enjoy our Galleries and that the imagery is a fair and acceptable depiction of the birds, wildlife and natural settings as we encountered and photographed them.