OPS Front Page 3
Low Tide, Bali, Indonesia
Dawn over Bryce Canyon, Utah, USA
Bryce Canyon Hoodoos, Utah, USA
Rice Farmers Walking to Work at Dawn, Burma
Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy
People on a Ferry, Gambia, West Africa
Ghanaian Fishermen, West Africa
Children Playing, Gambia, West Africa
Dunn's River Falls, Jamaica
The London Eye, UK
Gentoo Penguins, Antarctica
Tribesman, Highlands of Papua New Guinea
Reflected Beauty, Prague, Czech Republic
Church on the Island of Santorini, Greece
Plaza de Espagne, Seville, Spain
Roof of the Esplanade, Singapore
Western Reef Egrets, Gambia River, West Africa
Knowledge of the birds being photographed is invaluable. Numerous sources of information are available in books, magazines and on the internet. A great deal of time can be saved by making the effort to learn about your subjects, their habitat, sources of food, habits and migration patterns.
Identification is arguably the most important issue since no photographer would want to publish wrongly labelled images! Some species change their appearance with the seasons or as they mature from juveniles to adulthood. Females and males typically also have different plumage. In some cases identification is easy but in others expert knowledge is required to distinguish, for example, a juvenile of one species from an adult female of another.
Behaviour also changes with the seasons of the year as the priorities of the birds are focused on feeding, mating, nesting etc. Even typical habitat may change. For example, coastal and sea birds that live and feed mostly over water come ashore to nest. Knowing what changes to expect, and when they are likely to occur, can save a lot of wasted time.
It is also worth taking time to listen to the sounds made by birds. Each species has a characteristic song, alarm call, and even mating calls. Learning to identify these, at least for the species of interest, may help to locate the birds concerned. Birds are often heard before they are seen, particularly in dense undergrowth, reed beds, wooded areas etc. Some people even obtain recordings of male mating calls and use them to attract the birds to their location. With patience, this can work well.
Not sure if you understand the significance of the various colour spaces? Can you honestly say that you are clear about the differences between Adobe RGB (1998), sRGB, Apple RGB and Wide-gamut RGB? Well, colour is a complex matter and you could spend the rest of your life studying the science of the subject. In an effort to help, and with the assistance of Bruce Lindbloom, we have introduced a 3-D gamut viewer which displays a variety of commonly-used colour spaces. The viewer even allows you to compare two three-dimensional RGB working spaces by drawing one inside the other. The whole display can then be rotated in any direction, or zoomed in and out, to help you focus on those crucial areas of difference. At last it is possible to visualize clearly how switching, for example from Adobe RGB (1998) to sRGB, imposes significant changes upon your images.
For photography to progress it is necessary to have an overall vision and reasonable clarity of purpose. Successful photographers understand the impact of an image. They visualize a message as the image is composed, and decide how it should be interpreted and conveyed to the viewer. Simple images suggest the most powerful messages, and are more likely to be understood when viewers re-interpret the visual information in the light of their personal values and beliefs. Only by developing such vision can we hope to produce an image that might, for example, come to represent a particular crisis or war.
A broader type of vision derives from clarity of purpose. Images accumulate as projects come and go, and it can eventually become difficult to see the wood for the trees. Those who view images inevitably detect uncertainty of photographic purpose arising in the mind of a photographer. Indeed, an image or photographic project without an identifiable visual message will probably fail. It will confuse those who view it, just as poorly composed letters leave readers unsure of what the writers intended. Without vision, clarity of purpose and the ability to interpret a subject we are lost.
It is all too easy to get stuck in a rut and follow the same unadventurous path, always framing similar pictures in the same way. At such times it is worth reviewing past work and asking how things might develop. Look for unexplored areas and identify consistent successes and failures. Ask what you saw in failed images, and how the subject might be approached more successfully. Objectivity is fundamental because exercises of this nature can be painful as well as stimulating and refreshing. Reviews may bring a photographer face-to -face with unseen aspects of their work, but consequent recognition of personal strengths and weaknesses may prove to be the catalyst for beneficial change.