How Do You Like Your Photos? Big or Small?

When looking at photos of birds on the internet, especially blogs, they are usually full screen, large photos that encompass the whole bird. You know what I am talking about.  They are great photos by some great birders/photographers. And are really cool to look at.

But it isn’t how we see birds in the field 99% of the time.  

When we are lucky enough for a bird to sit long enough for a photo it is usually a long shot and not one that would win any awards.  How often in the field do we see birds in award winning views?  Rarely.  So I like to see photos of birds that show them basically how we see them from the field.

Or just a notch better.

By showing them just a notch better I can study just a little more detail than usually seen in the field.  Too far away and there isn’t enough detail for study.  Too close and there is detail we will never see in the field, so why get to that level?

That is one of several reasons I like the “The Cornell Lab of Ornithology All About Birds” website. As seen in this screen shot of Carolina Wren, I estimate their photos take up about an 1/8 of the screen, not 1/2 or more. Maybe a little closer than we see them, but not overwhelming.

All About Birds

So what got me thinking on this topic were two photos I took this past Saturday of a Carolina Wren.  I first took a few preliminary photos and then zoomed in. These were taken from across a creek 30-40 feet from the wren.

This photo shows how we usually see a Carolina Wren when they do decide to pop out of the brush. Greenwood, Johnson County 05/02/15
A zoomed in photo of the same wren showing more detail – clearer supercilium especially. Greenwood, Johnson County 05/02/15
The previous photo cropped and magnified. Showing detail we hardly ever see in the field. Greenwood, Johnson County 05/02/15

So what size do you like your photos? Me? Somewhere before the first and second photos of the Carolina Wren.

One Reply to “How Do You Like Your Photos? Big or Small?”

  1. I read an article on bird photography and Richard Crossley said he didn’t like the fascination we have with super detailed photos showing every individual feather of a bird. His reasoning was the same as yours – it’s not how we see them in the field.

    Personally, I think both have their place. The close-ups are just plain fun to look at – all those small details that we normally don’t get to see are a treat. Plus it may be a way to peek the interest of non-birders or increase the interest in new birders. “Normal” field views are great diagnostic tools – I especially like them for looking at shape and size of distant shorebirds.

    It’s an interesting question you pose and one I’ll think about more often in the field.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *