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Author Topic: Images: Bear Creek cats, St. Lucia and Winter  (Read 11482 times)
Howard Smith
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« on: March 22, 2004, 03:47:33 PM »
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Your subjcts are "mature subjects," that is they have been photographed and seen by many people.  People are used to them.  Therefore, they need tohave very mature treatment, something really different.  The chains around the neck and chain link fences need to disappear.

Like the article on this site about Practice says - don't shhot your cat.  It isn't very interesting to very many people outside your family album.

You can practice on these subjects, but then branch out.  Try different subjects or tryto get an unusual photo of a iger in a cage.

I don't know what your objectives are, but in my opinion, none of the photos have any commercial value.
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gryffyn
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« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2004, 01:24:25 PM »
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gryffyn, I was looking at Michael's tutorial on depth of field. A photo example was a tiger. The photo was taken in captivity. However, there are no cage artifacts and the tiger has a look of motion and maybe a bit threatening. A more mature treatment of the very more subject.
Michael's photos were taken at the Toronto Zoo, which has a lot more space for the animals than Bear Creek. It's relatively easy to blur out the cages/fences at the TO Zoo....not that easy at Bear Creek.  Mind you, at the TO Zoo, you need a 400+ mm lens to get such a shot.  Bear Creek, you're sometimes within 2 feet (or less!) of an 800 pound Siberian Tiger.

Don't think I'm not trying to get rid of the fences....'cause I am.  Might just take me a while, since the animals have to be in the perfect position for that to work at BCWS.

I have some "threatening" looking pictures....but they would not be suitable to sell as fund-raisers to the types of people that take tours of Bear Creek (families, girl guides, school outings, etc.).
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.....Andrzej
gryffyn
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« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2004, 02:31:13 PM »
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Hey Howard:

Any pics of yours online that are viewable?  I'm sure I could learn from them....

....Andrzej
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.....Andrzej
Ray
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« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2004, 06:44:21 PM »
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It would be a strange world if  book or film critics had to first demonstrate they were capable of wrting a novel or directing a movie of greater acclaim than the work they were critiquing.

Gryffin, what strikes me about your Bear Creek photos is their remarkable clarity and sharpness. That helps when the subject is, as Howard says, mature. I like to see those individual whiskers. You must have used an expensive lens  Huh
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Andrew Reynolds
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« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2004, 12:40:26 PM »
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I enjoyed these photographs. The later sets, especially, bring fresh insight into the subject of animals in captivity. The bars and other cage artifacts add depth and a novel character to the subjects. In this case, when you realize that the cages are part of the animal's environment and begin working with them rather than fighting them, your photographs improve immeasurably.
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gryffyn
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« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2004, 10:52:41 PM »
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I've posted some of my recent photos from the Bear Creek Wildlife Sanctuary (1 hour north of Toronto), the tropical paradise of St. Lucia and also some winter scenes taken snowshoeing in my front yard.

http://www.chaeron.com/gryffyn/AndrzejPhotos.html

Would appreciate any/all feedback, since I'm still learning how to get the best results from my new Nikon D100 and lenses.

Thanks.

....Andrzej
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.....Andrzej
QuaqQuao
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« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2004, 11:08:36 AM »
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I was really captivated by your Photos Andrzej. I feel that
everyone of your images have something of their own and that
is impressive.

I have a hard time to come up with something resembling
constructive critisism though, maybe others feel the same
way. On my part I'm way too fresh as a photographer to feel
that I have much to add to your photographic view.

Fences aren't really detrimental as long as the photo captures
an interesting view of the animal. It isn't so much a wildlife
photo anymore, rather a caged animal shot. Your site doesn't
put these caged shots into any kind of environmental
perspective or something like that (although viewers are free
to interpret / put into context as they like) so they are viewed
(on my part) as ordinary pictures of animals / pets. (ya, I
want to reach out and scratch their neck lol)

I notice that you sometimes crops at the animals elbows, or
crop out some of the body (the back of the wolf).
It would probably go by me unnoticed if you didn't ask though,
and I'm a bit unshure if it detracts or actually makes the
picture. Might be one of the things you'd look at to get from
great to perfect

regards
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gryffyn
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« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2004, 04:36:11 PM »
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Howard:

> Your subjcts are "mature subjects," that is they have been
> photographed and seen by many people.  People are used to > them.  Therefore, they need to have very mature treatment, > something really different.  

All very good feedback.  Thanks!

I'm thinking of some more unique ways of presenting the animals.  The posted shots were just "warm ups", getting used to what Bear Creek is all about, and what might be possible.

> The chains around the neck
> and chain link fences need to disappear.

Since these are caged animals, I think that leaving the fences in, if the subjects are well shot, is OK.  But I agree that it is better without those artifacts.  In some cases it's not easy to take such shots given the structure of Bear Creek itself.  In other cases, I could/would normally remove things like leashes on the cubs using Photoshop.

> Like the article on this site about Practice says - don't shhot > your cat.  It isn't very interesting to very many people
> outside your family album.

Given the level of expertise here on the forums, I would agree with you to some degree.  However, I have had phenomenal response from people about town to the pictures. I was just looking at a book on tigers in my wife's office...and those photos suck compared to my initial efforts.  Also just got a wedding gig (which I normally don't do...but it is for someone we know) after they saw the animal shots and could have had a gig shooting a pet Siberian Husky but wasn't interested (that is not how I earn my living).

That kind of reaction to my photos by the "common man" is quite good for the ego if nothing else. ;-)

> You can practice on these subjects, but then branch out.  
> Try different
> subjects or tryto get an unusual photo of a iger in a cage.

Good advice...which I intend to follow.  I expect to be shooting at Bear Creek at least once a month for the next year.  Out of that, I expect to come up with some good images.

> I don't know what your objectives are, but in my opinion,
> none of the photos have any commercial value.

Depends what you mean by "commerical".  Do I want to sell them to magazines/etc?  Nope....I'm an amateur, albeit an enthusiastic one.

I have a few objectives I hope to achieve over the next year:

1) Build my portfolio of "good" photos.

2) Capture some photos that can be used as fund-raisers for Bear Creek in the way of cards, prints, posters and the like, so that people that tour the place can take away a high-quality image as a keepsake.

3) Get some good images that can be used for a rebuild of the Bear Creek web site, which we are embarking on.

4) Improve my photography (and comments like yours are very valuable in that regard).

"Different" shots are a very good thing.  But sometimes just a good shot of a "mature" subject is OK.  Sometimes you just have to let a cigar be a cigar. ;-)

Again, thanks for the very helpful feedback....it definitely confirms some of the directions I want to go in with regards to ongoing sessions at Bear Creek.

....Andrzej
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.....Andrzej
Howard Smith
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« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2004, 12:58:28 PM »
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gryffyn, I was looking at Michael's tutorial on depth of field.  A photo example was a tiger.  The photo was taken in captivity.  However, there are no cage artifacts and the tiger has a look of motion and maybe a bit threatening.  A more mature treatment of the very more subject.
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Howard Smith
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« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2004, 01:55:37 PM »
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gryffyn, the points you make may all be perfectly true.  However, seldom is "I did the best I could under the circumstances with the camera I had" a valid arguement for a less than desirable image.  Sure, photojournalist can pull that off once in a while if they have a very immature subject.  One can forgive a slightly blurred image of the airplane flying into the World Trade Center or less than ideal composition.  But the photo of the President of the United States waving as he boards Air Force One (very mature and predictable situation) had better be perfect - right lens, film, exposure, focus, composition, et. al..  President Ford trippng as he stepped of the plane is somewhere in between.
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gryffyn
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« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2004, 02:06:37 PM »
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What part of "I'm working on it" did you miss? ;-)

It was not an excuse....just a clarification of where I am with the Bear Creek project.  I posted the best that I had at the time...more to come.

....Andrzej
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.....Andrzej
gryffyn
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« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2004, 02:29:44 PM »
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> I didn't miss that at all. You asked and I gave you an ]
> opinion. If I had said "Great shots. Keep it up", what do
> you learn?

Nothing...and I do appreciate the feedback.

> In my opinion, what you have needs a lot of work.

Like sphincters, everyone has one. ;-)

> If my work isn't ready for public view and comment, I don't
> show it or ask for opinions.

I think it was ready which is why the images were posted.

> After a critique, I have thrown images away or altered them > to incorporate a lesson learned, or kept them "as is" if that is > what I wanted.

Exactly my thinking...though I am unlikely to take down or toss images that I like because of a single person's opinion.  When I have better ones, I might replace some....since a portfolio is a living thing.  Though some might be interested in seeing a chronological progression.

> Two lessons I learned at my first critique were 1) neer
> apologize for your work, and 2) never take anything personally.

Good advice!  Thx!

....Andrzej
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.....Andrzej
Howard Smith
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« Reply #12 on: March 24, 2004, 02:34:23 PM »
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No.  I do it for myself now.
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Howard Smith
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« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2004, 03:46:55 PM »
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I don't think so at all.  But it is up to you to evaluate what I have to say and how, or even whether, it applies to you.  What did I say that needed to be backed up with a photograph?

I don't have to be a great photographer or even own a camera to offer a critique.  Tiger Woods has a golf coach.  Do you know who he is?  I doubt it.  He doesn't need to be a great golfer to help a great golfer.
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gryffyn
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« Reply #14 on: March 24, 2004, 08:08:55 PM »
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Ray:

> It would be a strange world if  book or film critics had to first
> demonstrate they were capable of wrting a novel or
> directing a movie of greater acclaim than the work they
> were critiquing.

Maybe we would have better critiques in that case.  I tend not to have a lot of respect for most book/film critics.  How does the saying go?  "Those that can, do, those that can't, criticize".  <grins>

> what strikes me about your Bear Creek photos is their
> remarkable clarity and sharpness. That helps when the
> subject is, as Howard says, mature. I like to see those
> individual whiskers.

Not hard to do when you are no more than 50 feet from any animal, and in some cases, inches.

> You must have used an expensive lens

Some shots were done with th Nikon 70-200 AFS VR lens, which is a bit on the expensive side.  But many others were done with rather inexpensive 28-85 and 70-300 lenses.  All on a Nikon D100 digital SLR.
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.....Andrzej
Howard Smith
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« Reply #15 on: March 25, 2004, 10:07:44 AM »
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Andrzej,

You certainly have an opinion and you are entitled.

I never offered "credentials" because none were requested and I didn't think required.  I have a Bachelor and Master degree in engineering and I am a registered Professional Engineer in California.  I believe that qualifies me to comment on many technical issues.

I studied photography at the Brooks Institiute of Photography full time for three years.  During that time, I worked part-time as a teaching assistant at the school.  This gave me greater access to other students' work.  I learned as much or more from my peers as from formal instruction.  I offered prints for critique about once a week and attended may other critiques as a learning experience.  I think that qualifies me to address things photographic.

Your explanations of your work start to sound like excuses when you become defensive and inconsistent.  You ask me what part of "I'm working on it" don't I understand.  Then you say you think the work on your website is ready for display.  I told you I think your images are sophomoric, and you defend them.  Reason?  Excuse?  Hard to see the difference sometimes.

From time to time, there have been some lively discussions of some of Michael's images on this site.  He usually doesn't comment except for an occassional "thank you" or in response to a direct question ("How'd you do that?).

Don't flatter yourself to think I would take any of your comments personally.
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gryffyn
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« Reply #16 on: April 09, 2004, 12:46:51 PM »
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Glad you liked 'em, Andrew.  More to come when I get the time to post some of the ones from this past weekend.
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.....Andrzej
gryffyn
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« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2004, 05:42:45 PM »
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For some "fresh insight into animals in a cage", I would highly recommend reading " Life of Pi" by Yann Martel.  This book won the Man Booker prize and has the best perspective on caged animals that I have ever read.

What does that have to do with photography?  Why nothing...except that sometimes it's OK to create images of animals in cages that show the cages.  That's reality....and sometimes reality is a good thing.

Speaking of caged animals, I just posted Part 4 of my ongoing photographic efforts at Bear Creek Wildlife Sanctuary at:

   http://www.chaeron.com/gryffyn/AndrzejPhotos.html

Enjoy!
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.....Andrzej
gryffyn
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« Reply #18 on: March 19, 2004, 09:28:53 AM »
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No feeback whatsoever?  No way to improve my photography (except to eliminate fences in wild animal shots, which is not always possible)?

Thx!

.....Andrzej
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.....Andrzej
Howard Smith
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« Reply #19 on: March 22, 2004, 05:04:44 PM »
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As for images to raise funds and build a website for Bear Creek, your images less artifacts, should do nicely.  

By commercil value, I mean sales to strangers.  I am surprised at the quality for books and magazines, both very good and terrible.  I try to lookat phoographers who have more than one book.  They are achieving a degree of commercial success(assuming books are their thing).

Weddings are a whole other gig.  If you think a tiger is scary, wait 'till the mother of the bride gets going.  Be prepared or everything and anything.  Preplan a group of shots, don't just wing it.  This is a very important day in these people's lives and if you screw up, you will be tiger bait.  It is hard to redo the day (althought it has been done a great expense).  I have shot one wedding.  The people loved the photos.  I had such a bad experience I swore I would never do it again.  That was 40 years ago.
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