portrait of a killer

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by doug herr, May 29, 2006.

  1. A Cooper's Hawk bringing breakfast to the kids: [​IMG]
    Cooper's Hawk - Sacramento County California
    Leica R8/DMR, 560mm f/6.8 Telyt
    The latitude of the DMR continues to impress me. I spent the morning observing a pair of Cooper's Hawks in a heavily forested area in Sacramento County. The lighting in the forest is extremely harsh and contrasty: full sunlight at the upper canopy, deep shade on most of the forest floor except at breaks in the canopy. Anyway the DMR handled the lighting quite well.
  2. Superb combination of fine detail on the bird and a soft, out-of-focus background that works very well with the colors of the bird. How elegant!
  3. Thanks Gib... as I'm sure you know, the Cooper's Hawk likes these dense forests and
    getting a decent background along with an unobstructed view of the bird isn't easy.
  4. Lots of pictures of Cooper's hawks. In southern California, this species is quite common in suburban and even urban neighborhoods with plenty of trees. We had a pair rear 4 chicks in a nest in a street tree two houses down from us last year.
  5. Hm. Sorry, but apart from being technically superb, it lacks. What I see is a standard in animal photography that has become almost boring.

    I know you guys hate to hear a different view, so feel free to call me a troll or whatever.
  6. I don't think it's a boring picture at all. I think it's well composed, well executed, as well as interesting. It also shows something about the character of the animal.
  7. I like it. The out of focus background is really nice, not at all like I'm used to seeing. Don't know if it's just the natural background or the special qualities of this lens, but it's very nice.
  8. Zapata,

    Why don't you show us some examples of your fine work to compare with Doug's technically superb but lacking images ?
  9. Another great picture! I will share it with the group of bird watchers and photographers (and wildlife enthusiasts) who meet every Wednesday in Dhaka (Bangladesh)
  10. It is, like all Doug's efforts, technically superb but I can understand Zapata's viewpoint as well: if you're not a bird fancier, then it's a bit static. I'm sure there's room for disenting voices here without someone having to pick a fight with them.
  11. Nice snap but, to quote Leica legend Ted Grant, "when you photograph a bird in black and white, you photograph its soul, when you take its picture in colour, you photograph its feathers."
  12. Great, Doug.
  13. It seems a lot of bird potography experts shed their knowledge here, I'm impressed. I admit that while I saw many photos of animals (and birds) I rarely have seen any where the predator is presenting his prey like in this pic. That makes it special - for me, the bird photo layman - and together with composition and lighting I'd call it an excellent picture.

    Doug, thanks for sharing your photos here! I also appreciate to see results of the DMR used for real photography, as opposed to the usual snaps of someone's cat, BTW
  14. It seems some folks would like this photo better if Doug had set a big deep dish reflector to the bird's left, added a bit if eyeliner, a droplet of blood from the beak and some starburst reflections from the talons -- but its so hard to get a hawk to stand for that much bother.

    If we only showed the 3 perfect pictures we'll make in our lives we wouldn't have much to look at now would we? This is a very, very good wildlife portrait.

    Excellent picture as usual, Doug!

    Zap, are you the same one from the bicycle magazine industry or did you just borrow that name?
  15. Serve em some scrambled eggs. That\'ll keep the fuzzy little dinosaurs where they belong.
  16. Doug: as far as I am concerned, your work sets the standard for wildlife photography on
    photo.net. PN would be a much poorer place without your postings. Thank you for your
    contributions - I know that I have learned much from them, not to speak of my enjoyment.
    Please continue.
  17. I'm not sure if there are no other lenses or camera that can do as well or better ... just playing devil's advocate here ...
    <img src="http://d6d2h4gfvy8t8.cloudfront.net/3274599-lg.jpg">
  18. Thanks for all the comments. Zap is entitled to his opinion, there's room enough for all of us here and when I'm in my nit-picky ultraperfectionist moods comments like Zap's push me to do better. Likewise the DMR and 560 aren't nessesarily the bee's knees for wildlife photography; there's lots of good equipment on the market, new and old, that will do a good job in the right hands.
  19. Excellent, Doug! Not only the image you posted here! :)
  20. "Zapata,

    Why don't you show us some examples of your fine work to compare with Doug's technically superb but lacking images ?"

    That kind of bullcrap is par for the course on forums like this but here's a news flash: there are a lot of people in the world who are very, very capable of judging a photograph who don't know one end of a camera from the other. Some of those people include photo editors, gallery owners/managers, and the general buying public. If you want to work in the photo biz it isn't smart to respond to negative criticism with taunts to see the critic's own work. Doug obviously recognizes that. That said, there's nothing wrong with the shot, it just doesn't go with the title. It could read something like "Portrait of Sitting Cooper's Hawk with something in its talons". The title "A Cooper's Hawk bringing breakfast to the kids" makes me want to see it coming in for a landing with a recognizable prey in it's talons, with the babies looking up gape-mouthed from the nest. Or something like that, you get the idea.
  21. This is one I wish I had taken
    Dang, I'd even settle for being there when Doug took it !
  22. I think John Graham really had a point here. Just in order to clarify:
    No, I do not come here to put other people's work down.
    In fact I have more than twenty years experience in photography, studied photography, and my work is exhibited. I do not really care for the technical quality of a picture but rather respond to the content. I am also not a bird watchers and definitely not a wildlife enthusiasts. And yes, I am well aware of all the difficulties and hard work that stands behind such a picture.

    Because superficially it seems sound I try o be really hard on it:
    So what I feelis, that it is a static, almost formal portrait. Formalised nature. It is definitely too bright (a picture lives on its blacks). But most of all, there is nothing hidden, nothing to discover, no wonder, no mystery.

    I am even more critical about my own stuff...
  23. I collect photographs even more so than cameras. Most photographers are interested in critiques from non-photographers, because few real photographers (or painters) shoot/paint only for the admiration of their peers.
  24. I classify Zap's first post as a drive-by shooting. Calling something "boring" doesn't mean much. The second time he wrote something that might qualify as a genuine critical comment.

    "that it is a static, almost formal portrait. Formalised nature. It is definitely too bright (a picture lives on its blacks). But most of all, there is nothing hidden, nothing to discover, no wonder, no mystery."

    Explaining is important to convey meaning. Dismissive one and two word swats don't do that.

    And I'm not picking on Zap. The "drive-by shooting" is all too common here. They are of benefit to no one. If you can't supply a useful comment why not just sit on your hands?
  25. Zap's comments are well-taken, he (?) has expressed a missing quality I'm constantly
    looking for when photographing wildlife. OTOH I believe it's inappropriate to evaluate all
    photographs by the same standard. For example I wouldn't expect to find in a photo of
    wildlife the same dynamic geometry and balance of spaces, forms and colors one might
    find in Bee Flowers' snipets of the urban landscape; likewise one would use different
    criteria for evaluating formal portraits vs. street photos.
    In the case of wildlife photos you have in addition to the technical challenges a subject
    which under all but the best of circumstances defies cooperation and does its utmost
    to avoid the photographer, and often prefers dimly-lit tangles of brush where uncluttered
    backgrounds are a wild fantasy. I certainly would like to incorporate a sense of mystery, a
    hint of things not clearly illustrated and include a dynamic geometry over the entire
    picture area as well as creating ecologically sound illustration of the animal. Among the
    many thousands of wildlife photos I've seen made by hundreds of skilled photographers I
    can recall only a scant handful of photos meeting all these criteria for excellence.
  26. I remember looking at Lanting's "Eye to Eye" when it first came out and admiring his gumption. You'd never catch me wading into some leech-infested river trying to get in-your-face shots of a hippo. I also recall reading an article with a shot of Nick Nichols (the NG wildlife photog who did the spread on the Okavango Delta) showing all these red welts on his upper thighs caused by some kind of worm that burrowed into his feet and traveled up his legs!! But boy, his shots were amazing. Still, we admire both the photojournalists as well as the portraitists when it comes to people-photography, why ought it to be any different with animal photography?
  27. John, how much experience photographing wildlife do you have? Do you have any wildlife photos you can show us?
  28. A lot of experience looking at wildlife photography, absolutely no experience doing it. I've never stomped a grape either, but I'm past-president of a wine-appreciation society. My interest in wildlife photography is like my interest in wine, as an appreciator, connossieur if you will, of the efforts of others. Why would you ask? "Zapata Espinoza" trashed your shot and you didn't ask him.
  29. J, Zap didn't trash my photo. I asked you because you questioned why wildlife photography shouldn't be held up to the same standards as any other form of photography. You might as well ask why I didn't use a 4x5 camera to get image quality comparable to the masters of landscape photography. Different standards apply. I'd like to see more graphic design and effective use of color in wildlife photography (mine and others') but most of the time getting close enough or even just getting a clear view with an uncluttered background is success enough. If you haven't done much wildlife photography then it's unlikely you'd know how rare the opportunities to create compositional masterpieces are with these subjects.
  30. Proper bird of prey.......
  31. I think what we have here is a failure to communicate, probably my fault. What my point is, that there are different genres (?) of people photography, some tend to show people "in action", some are portraits. We appreciate both, that is, for example we don't look at Karsh's work and say it's not as good as Capa's. So therefore I'm saying to apply that to wildlife photography, there's nothing inherently "better" about (for example)a bald eagle at the moment of capturing a rabbit in its talons vs a bald eagle perched majestically. Granted I've never tried doing wildlife photography but nonetheless I think I can intuitively understand how difficult it must be to get all those elements you stated, to come together. I've read that some of those breathtaking action shots are made at wildlife farms with wranglers/handlers cueing the animals as many times as necessary for the photog to get what he needs.
  32. A real life bird in in real BW...
  33. Do you shoot RAW files, Douglas?
  34. "Do you shoot RAW files, Douglas?"
  35. Doug, Awesome. I really like the way the light is striking the bird. The DMR looks like it is doing a great job for you and also a great bird moment with his catch of the day.
  36. The DMR looks like it is doing a great job

    Jeez, and i thought it was Doug doing a great job.

    Thanks for putting me right.
  37. Love the shadows on the breast. The benign yet fierce "expression". The overall sunshiny brightness. The painterly background.

    Zap did good on his second post. That's how crit should be done. You think it's boring?-tell us why. A second step would be to describe or show a hawk photograph that you meets your standards.

    Doug knows what he wants and gets it. I admire that.
  38. Allen let's put it staight "It looks like it is doing a good job for you". Don't take my comments and edit the way you like to make it sound something different than what is said. If you can't figure it out it was a compliment to Doug and the use of his gear.
  39. Nice capture Doug. Splendid photo by Arthur as well. I had a similar image of wildlife photographers as John untill one morning I was up early to photograph a mountain lion at the Sonoran Desert Museum outside Tucson. Along comes Art Wolf standing shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the tourists photographing in this zoo. I told him I was under the impression Pros spent months in the field studying and stalking their subjects. He told me the editors could not care less about where the image was taken as long as it did not look like a zoo or staged shot. I kinda felt the same way as when I learned there was no Santa. Anyway, good shots in this thread. I'll stick to shooting "Nancy Birds" Steve
  40. Guy,it's about the photographer not the gear to quote a cliché. I'm sure Doug would get great results with any cam....even with those nancy birds photos;)

    It's good that you are very happy with your DMR i'm looking forward to some great shots from you in the W/NW posts.

    Be happy.
  41. Allen that is what I said, it was pretty obvious . Sorry you could not see that. But on the same note and Doug has talked about this is the ability of the camera to work in his favor the DR that he is getting helps very much in these situations where the light is just everywhere in a dark forest. Bottom line good tools help great shooters. I would be the first to admit that. If i don't have to struggle than i can concentrate on the image, been doing it for many many years.

  42. Allen Herbet is that 'Bird of Prey' the Bald Eagle unmasked, the iconic symbol of the USA Government? "I see WMD everywhere!"
  43. Actually, I believe that the bald eagle is a national symbol or emblem for the USA and does not just represent the government. It was chosen over the golden eagle, because the latter was used as an emblem of many other countrtes, no doubt including some of those many countries that ALSO claimed there were WMDs in Iraq.
  44. Another portrait of the same bird, this one made a week later (note to Zap: it's a portrait):
    Cooper's Hawk - Sacramento County California
    Leica R8/DMR, 280mm f/4 APO-Telyt-R
  45. Hiya folks,

    As one who some time ago earnt his living as a studio based advertsing 'product' photographer, with everything under my own control, including every subject and all the lighting, I can well see that wildlife shooting is a world away from this and it is INCREDIBLY hard to achieve anything even half decent.

    My partner is an avid bird watcher here in the UK and I have come to appreciate how amazingly hard it is to even see a bird of prey any closer than 100 yards, so to shoot a picture like Doug's above is some achievement...top notch bird shot out of the top drawer..

    Cheers Steve.M.

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