Monday in Nature Posting Guidelines

Discussion in 'Nature' started by lgw, Jul 7, 2014.

  1. Monday in Nature Photo Guidelines

    Welcome to Monday in Nature. This is a weekly thread designed for nature photographers to share their unique views of nature from around the world. Everything from astrophotography to high magnification macro is welcome. These guidelines will help define nature photography and point of what is and is not appropriate for this forum. We want to encourage participation. At the same time not every photo taken outside is a nature photograph.​
    No images have ever been deleted from Monday in Nature , but that doesn't mean it won't happen. Only a handful have been out of bounds. We don't want to be the nature photography police. That's not anyone's intention. No one is going to scrutinize every image for qualification. We have a nice forum and it's an inviting place. It's a great place for new folks to the forum, as well as beginning nature photographers. We do have a sense of humor and you'll learn a lot here.
    The Bare Basics:

    Photos must be nature based subjects:
    Declare captive animal or plant subjects, whether in a zoo, arboretum, aviary, aquarium, botanic garden, etc.
    Photos need to be sized 700 pixels on the long axis:
    This is a standard and is in place across all forums. Feel free to link your photo to a larger version and please, tell us so we can go look.
    We post one (1) image per week in this thread:
    Many contributors post in multiple locations each week. If you have a series of images to accompany your post, please tell us where we can see it. A duplex or triptych type image is ok, as long as it is the standard 700 pixels wide and demonstrates something where multiple images are needed for better understanding. Radical changes in growth stages benefit from this arrangement. 3 views of the same tree doesn't work here. Please do not use this as a way to post 3 images.
    Archived photos are welcome:
    There are no time limits. This is weekly photo sharing. There are many reasons why we don't get out and none of them bar participation. Many photographers have images that are decades old, but are still nature. Older photos provide a historic reference that is always good to understand.
    Spammers will be deleted.

    In the strictest sense nature photography does not include any hand of man elements. The focus should always be on nature.
    No people in photos:

    This has only happened a couple of times, but it's out of bounds. Nature photography is about nature, not about another person enjoying it. This also extends to your pets. Your dog enjoying a romp in the park may look quite natural, but there are other places to post those photos. Please refrain from posting images of people (or your dog or cat).
    No buildings or obvious man made structures dominating the image:
    There are a lot of beautiful places in nature where structures seem like a natural or historic part of the scene. That may work for landscape photography, but not in nature. A structure that is blurred in the distance is a bit different. What we're talking about here are photos of buildings or other large man made structures that dominate the photo. Marin Headlands is a beautiful natural location, but photos including the Golden Gate Bridge are out of bounds. Please don't post images of buildings or structures. There are other places for these photos.
    On the left, nature is starting to take over in an industrial area. But, it's not a nature photograph. (Center)This is not a nature photograph, even though there's plenty of nature around the light house. On the right, the tree is pretty, but the old building relics dominate the image. The focus is not on nature is this example, but the tree is still a good subject. Try a different approach.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Common Sense and the Gray Areas:
    When in doubt, always ask yourself one simple question. Is the focus on nature? Always use a common sense approach. Sometimes we can minimize the man made elements and still have a photo story about nature. Birds perch on just about everything. Numerous animals jump or climb over fences. Nature comes crashing into the back yard, green house, or other part of our human domain. Many people live in nature and not in town. When a fox runs across your yard and you grab the camera, are you photographing the yard or the fox? Others live in town and nature shows up. Bears roam into suburban areas. Alligators find the backyard pool. When it's 40 below's ok to shoot through the window. Anything can happen. Keep the focus on the nature.
    The structure takes up much of the photo and the heron is just an element. Next, the focus is on nature. Yes, the fence/wall is man made, but sometimes this can't be avoided. Cropping out the structure doesn't detract from the heron. The Snow Geese are in focus, but the truck is a huge distraction. It's not really a nature photograph anymore, but will work in other forums.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    We love bugs and they're everywhere. Bugs on anything is fine. Your finger for scale, any fence will do, especially when there is some action. Wooden fence.....yep, especially if the bugs are eating it, or being eaten on it.
    We won't list every scenario. There are times when exceptional events take place in nature and you want to tell the story. When in doubt, keep the focus on nature.
    Happy Shooting, Naturally
  2. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Sorry, the second and third sets of images are not quite showing up right yet. The sets of three should appear side by side. I'll fix them later on.
    When Laura started these threads a year ago, this was what I wrote:
    Shun Cheung, May 27, 2013; 05:42 p.m.
    As I said, let this thread run for a few weeks and then gauge how everybody feels. As long as the theme is mostly nature photography, I don't think we'll pick on one overhead powerline in the frame, etc.
    The Nikon Wednesday thread started in 2008. In about 5 years, I have deleted a grand total of 2 images plus sent one warning. In all of those cases, the images in question involved nudity or other "family unfriendly" content. I really doubt that we'll run into similar situations on this forum. As long as we all use some common sense, hopefully we'll never need to delete any posts.
    Shun Cheung, May 27, 2013; 09:58 p.m.
    Again, as far as I am concerned, the purpose for this thread is to promote nature photography and have some fun. It is not my objective, and I am sure it is not Bob Atkins' either, to tightly police every entry. As long as we use common sense, anything reasonable is fine. If we can see some out-of-focus house in the background, it is not going to be an issue. However, I hope people won't post an image of their dog on a leash waking in the park ...​
    The Nikon Forum Wednesday image thread tradition started in 2008. In almost 6 years, I still have only deleted 2 images among some 300 threads. Both of those images involved some sort of pornography. As Laura points out, in over a year of these Nature Monday threads, no image has so far been deleted, ever. It is not our objective to tightly police these threads; rather, we would like to promote a friendly atmosphere. Hopefully these guildlines can help everybody understand what is appropriate and what is not. I am sure there are a lot of gray areas.
    I would like to thank Laura again for starting these threads every Monday morning as well as writing up the guidelines.
  3. Where do you think Snow Geese feed on their migration? I'll tell you in GRAIN fields ( and by the way EVERY National Wildlife refuge is contract farmed to a certain percentage, in order to provide food for migrating birds)...which are often alongside roads etc. In my opinion your 'guidelines' are not only restrictive, but unusable as a basis for nature photography. Why not just restrict it to designated national wilderness areas and avoid the hassles?
    Suggestion? Get rid of the formal guidelines and go back to the way you have operated the past few some much wiser people have noted "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
  4. I've never understood PN's obsession with rules and their enforcement. Seems to me to run contrary to creativity in general and common sense in particular. As a person who has been banned for 110 years (potw) from another forum for commenting on rule enforcement I'll shut up now, although there is much more than can and should be said.
  5. As I noted in this weeks 'Monday in Nature' thread, I really appreciate what the moderators are doing, but I have to agree with Jake in regard to the Snow Geese shot in particular. 'Nature' is everywhere, and a shot that shows just how closely the natural world interacts with the man-made world is as much a nature shot as any, and also usually makes for an interesting and entertaining photo. What if I got a shot of a bear, for example, wandering through a local community (which has happened around here recently)? I would think that would be considered a nature shot just as much as one of the same bear with the forest in the background. I think the uncropped shot of the heron on the wall would be considered a nature shot as well, as the length of the wall draws the viewer immediately to the heron resting on it.
    But of course, you guys are free to make the guidelines as you see fit, and we'll stay within them, but you might be eliminating some of the more entertaining photos if you get too restrictive.
  6. There are lots of things I could moan at but I will just say many thanks to Laura and to PN for the Monday in Nature threads.
  7. I don't often post to the nature forum because I live in the city, and while I do often photograph the stuff of nature - beasts, bugs and blossoms - I almost always deliberately include the entire milieu, inhabited by people and all that entails.
    Here's a photo of some rune-like formations caused by wood boring beetles in a dead tree in a very photogenic vacant lot near my home. The field has been abandoned for so long it's reverting to natural Texas prairie. I suppose I could try to omit the apparent evidence of man, but wouldn't that be false rather than natural? So I included the distant street and parking lot lights. Also, my other photos of this same tree without any sign of the surroundings were boring. Not wood boring. Just boring.

    Here are others from the same vacant lot, taken this past winter. Just barely below the bottom edge of the frame were some distant apartment buildings I had to crop out. In this case I preferred it without any sign of man. But it's a deliberately anthropomorphized visual theme, so there's still a manmade element.


    Some guidelines are needed, otherwise there's no purpose to discrete forums. If the nature forum prefers the more restrictive guidelines, that's okay with me. These photos are in a semi-urban area, near a street, but they're not "street photography" either. I've also taken portraits of homeless folks in vacant fields where there was no obvious sign of manmade structures, just prairie. So it's neither nature photography, nor "street" photography. Many of my photos don't neatly fit any forum or category, other than the equipment-centric forums merely because I used a certain brand or form-factor camera. But I can see why some folks who'd like to participate might chafe at some restrictions.
  8. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Ten years ago, back in 2004, there was a thread on the scope of this forum:
    According to Bob Atkins, who created this forum, essentially we follow Photographic Society of America (PSA) guidelines. This is their definition of nature (photography), currently on their web site:
    As you can immediately see, even PSA's definition is changing a bit as of January 1, 2015.
    Meanwhile, the Australian Photographic Society has a somewhat different definition:
    And I am sure there are many other definitions.
    I would like to point out again that we are providing guidelines so that we have something to point to, but there are clearly a lot of gray areas. Our guidelines are not meant to be water-tight definitions to be scrutinized and strictly enforced. An occasional borderline image or two that show some human activities in the background is not going to be a big deal. However, if someone posts non-nature images week after week, we may ask you to comply with the guidelines. Is that going to screen out some potentially great (as well as not-so-great) non-nature images? Absolutely; in fact, that is whole point. There are a lot of excellent human portraits, architecture images ... that simply don't belong to this forum. has many other forums that are more suitable for such images.
    It is not my primary interest to debate the definition for nature photography and engage in some philosophical argument. Rather, I prefer to spend my time creating great images, nature or not. Hopefully that is your focus as well.
  9. Laura, Shun thank you for your time and efforts! I joined last year because it seemed to be a website "of photographers for photographers" - to share experiences and advance knowledge. I thank those that have and do so .
    There seems to be some confusion as to the difference between the interpretation of "guidelines" and "absolute rules" as we are only asked for use of "common sense' in the submission of images that may approach "grey areas". The "grey areas" seem quite liberal - it's not as if you were rejecting photos of waterfowl because they were on a "man made" body of water as opposed to a "natural" body of water or deer on a mowed lawn or harvested hay field :)
    Judicial framing and/or cropping is part of photography is it not?
    As Shun stated there are many other forums on available to post questionable "nature" images that may be more appropriate. Indeed, I have noted images posted here on the "nature" forum appear on the appropriate "equipment" and/or "for critique" forums.
  10. Shun said "It is not my primary interest to debate the definition for nature photography and engage in some philosophical argument. ..."

    Two things: One It was YOU, and Laura who brought this discussion to the fore. Second, if you have no intentions of discussing the guidelines, philosophically or otherwise then close the thread, do what you feel you must do, and let the forum live or die on the merits of those decisions.

    Personally I find your statement to fall along the lines of the old saw, "I'm here from the government, and I am going to help you. "
  11. I do believe the post title referenced the term "guidelines" which aren't rules precisely (, the OP also stresses throughout the emphasis on nature and natural objects which i can see as having some definitional issues but also stresses the 'common sense' factor. I doubt anyone is going to object to pictures of geese feeding in a grain field, and the point I believe about the chosen goose shot is as much about composition as subject matter. Sometimes I think a shot that juxtaposes 'nature' against 'the hand of man' (as some forums phrase it) are interesting and compelling, but I don't think its terribly difficult to adhere to the guidelines (not rules) as describe here, particularly when there are so many forums to post in. Choose wisely (!
  12. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Jake, every forum has some guidelines. For example, for an image to be eligible for the Nikon Wednesday image threads, it has to be created, loosely, using some sort of Nikon equipment along the way. Needless to say, there is no way we can verify whether an image indeed involves some sort of Nikon equipment. Therefore, that part is not enforced at all.
    On the Canon EOS Forum, images have to be created using Canon EOS cameras, not even Canon point and shoot cameras (again, difficult to enforce). It should surprise no one that the Nature Forum encourages participants to post images that meet common nature photography definition and guidelines. Presumably, that is why people participate on this forum to begin with. When Laura started these threads over a year ago, we had made it very clear that we would provide guidelines down the road.
    Having said that, I have been a moderator here on for over a decade and half. It has never been my intention to make sure that 100% of the people are happy with everything we do here. In fact, I don't think it is possible to make 80% of the people happy. I barely know Laura and certainly do not agree with her all the time, either. I am sorry that some of you don't like the way things are here. If you feel strongly enough, I suggest that you find another forum, inside or outside of, that meets your preferences better.
  13. Lost in this entire discussion about whether a photo of a bird on a post is a "nature" photograph or not, is
    the matter of "what constitutes a "Photography" topic of discussion". Personally, having earned a living with
    a camera for as long as anyone on here, I've never before found myself in a discussion with Photographers
    which opened with a treatise on the history of invasive plants on an island in the pacific back in the early
    stages of World War Two.

    It's like I said to David Stephens on the original post, frankly folks, to be watching this discussion of "what
    is relevant" in this, is funnier than H, I just laugh, go grab a camera and walk out into the forest with the
    Cougar and the Bear.
  14. From the current MiN Robert C Anderson wrote:
    "Forget what it says at the opening, Laura made some comments after that. And then had "the heavy artillery" chime in to support her. in which there were specific comments made about birds- on-posts and birds-on-wires were "pretty well "outside" of what should be here".
    Please point out to me exactly where it is stated that birds on wires or posts are out of bounds. If you are going to make statements or commentary on my actions, do get your facts straight. I don't run and hide behind the camera straps of the mods. I don't call in "the heavy artillary", as you say. You may want to forget what it says at the weekly opening, but this is what is written. " A bird on the fence or bug on your finger is fine."
    As for the "treatise", my military family upbringing took me to that little island as a child in the early '60s and I own the book. It was a snake, not plants, and it's an ongoing environmental catastrophe. I do have conversations with other photographers about invasive flora and fauna because they have an impact on the environment in which we live, work, and use our cameras. It's a subject that most of us have in common in one way or another. If your environment is free of these things, then you are indeed lucky. "Photography topic" subjects aren't limited to camera angles and f stops. If folks want to talk about technical matters, they don't hesitate. Nature is rich with subject matter from mythology to science and it all has an impact on the way we experience nature and on our personal points of view as photographers.
    "Common sense" and "focus on nature" are phrases that are frequently used in the "guidelines". It's pretty flexible. There are no shackles here. Many beginning nature photographers come to They may find their way to the Nature forum. Some simple flexible guidelines with photo examples may prove useful. If you don't need them, fine. A weekly photo sharing thread is of benefit to beginners as well as seasoned pros or hobbyists. It's nice to see images from around the world by photographers with varying interests. We all participate because we want to for a variety of reasons. If we are enriched through the process, all the better.
  15. It's always a judgement call. Just use your common sense for what is and isn't appropriate and if you push the rules too far, don't complaint if your image is removed. As always, the moderator's decision is final (and always correct...).
    PSA rules on nature say "no hand of man" in the image. The rules here aren't quite that limiting, hence open to interpretation. If we had a "no hand of man" rule, it's easy to interpret and enforce, but we don't want to be quite that restrictive.
    If you want to show the effect on the natural environment of opencast mining, that's fine. It would make a great documentary image. However it's not nature as defined here for purposes of the Monday in Nature threads. It may be nature as defined elsewhere, but that's not the issue.
  16. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Since it is already Sunday, another Monday in Nature thread will begin shortly. I would like to remind everybody to pay some attention to the guidelines. As Bob points out above, the simple (but not precise) definition for nature photography is "no hands of man," i.e. the image should show no sign of any human activity. And as we have pointed out a couple of times, the Photographic Society of America has very strict guidelines for the nature photography competition entries:
    However, since we are not running any competition here, we are not as concerned about fairness to every entry. Rather, we would like to make sure that we understand what nature photography is. Unfortunately, in May I saw a few entries showing buildings, flags, etc. as main subjects in the images. Those image are not at all nature photography. I have e-mail communication with some of those folks, and it is clear that they are not aware of what we mean by nature photography here.
    For myself, I always apply the "no hands of man" rule to my image posts to these threads in the last year, i.e. not showing any human-made objects. However, the PSA rule does allow tags on animals. As long as your image meet their guildelines, we are fine. We would like to be looser than they are.
    As far as I can tell, over 90% of the weekly entries are already fully compliant with the guidelines for this forum. Hopefully, we can reduce the few that show other human-made objects. I live in suburban Silicon Valley and work in the high-tech industry, and yet I have no trouble finding nature subjects, just like 90% of the entries here. So I don't think that is going to cause any major hardship to anybody.
    Have fun.
    P.S. A lot of sea otters in the Moss Landing area on the central California coast have tags from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. To me those tags are annoying and I try to avoid them, but they meet PSA rules.
  17. have fun, y'all
  18. This is late, been a busy week. Congrats to Laura on heading up the Monday Nature forum.

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