View Full Version : Bird on a stick VS Bird in it's environment?

Jim Poor
02-21-2008, 03:33 PM
Which do you prefer and why?

A reply to one of my comments got me thinking about this a little today.

Is there really a trend that American photographers tend to like the more plain BG bird on a stick type photos while European photographers prefer the more environmental images?

Why might that be so?

Does it have to do with accessibility and approachability of the subjects, or some other influence?

Ben Page
02-21-2008, 04:05 PM
I like both, but I do lean more towards something with a little more environment in it. Not sure why, maybe I like to be reminded of where the wildlife lives!

Robert O'Toole
02-21-2008, 04:50 PM
I find this to be true, European images tend to feature more habitat elements in the image. I think including environmental elements is more desirable as it opens up more options and allows more creativity. Just how many BOAS do you need to see in a portfolio? Or even birds in flight against a bright blue sky, yikes! Also a problem is that most BOAS images tend to feature a broken off ugly stick for a perch. A great looking perch can really make a BOAS image a sucess.


Fabs Forns
02-21-2008, 04:50 PM
I love extreme close ups, but there's a place in my heart for GOOD environmental i,ages. I must add, the latter are a lot more difficult to pull and is why there may be less of them.
There's room for both in every portfolio :)
Agree that Europeans favor the environment and mood, maybe because we have been influenced by some prominent photographer's style.

Maxis Gamez
02-21-2008, 07:21 PM
It all depends on the set up, but I love them both!! :)

Gyorgy Szimuly
02-22-2008, 06:53 AM
Me, as an European prefer images with clear backgrounds but it always depends on what I need to photograph for. If the subject is just an illustration the target should be emerged from the surroundings. The majority of my images tend to have clear bgs where I could manage to have it. Not an easy way to do so in Europe but still possible.

I like perched birds but I find many of the perches boring (like mossy ones) showing up here and other forums. I love a more natural looking and native vegetation used when a perch set up. Without names I have many favorite artist here and there which using perches professionally. On the other hand I saw many images where the environment worked well. Just as an example the Bald Eagle images in Alaska. One can easily imagine the habitat they live in and circumstances where the photographer worked in.


Jeff Nadler
02-22-2008, 08:23 AM
The best compositional style often varies by end use, so both styles have their place. For publication - guidebooks, websites, and numerous printed uses, birds in simple settings (I hate the reference bird on stick) often work well.

For framed artwork hanging on the wall, I find such a composition works rather poorly. Try hanging on a wall, just a bird on a perch or bird in flight, either against nothing but blue sky, and the impact seems sterile and boring.

Martin Dyer
02-22-2008, 11:39 AM
As a Brit, rather than a European :-), my approach is that there is room for both types, which is up to the photographer to decide.

I struggle to agree to formulating to some prescribed layout where compliance is necessary. I tend to see many so called edits to peoples images can often (not always - and I am not singling out this forum specifically at all) make things worse.

I struggle for example, say when taking a picture of a Bittern here in the UK where they are very secretive and shy birds, when I hear comments like the background is cluttered. Of course it is, it is where it lives. Again - not here, but have experienced those sort of comments elsewhere.

I think there may be something in Jim's point about approachability - although I have no personal experience of bird photography in the US......yet :-), but hope to in the not too distant future. Would love to come and use my wide angles on your Florida Ospreys :-)

But overall, each has a place, it is up to the eye at the back of the camera to decide and let's enjoy the diversity of approaches


Grady Weed
02-22-2008, 01:17 PM
Well put Martin.

Jason Vaclavek
02-22-2008, 01:42 PM
I like more of the habitat shot than the single perch but I will take what ever presents itself to me.

Brandon Holden
02-22-2008, 04:25 PM
I try to get both... I like to have a varied collection of the species I photograph, vs. having a "style"

Richard Kowalski
02-22-2008, 06:18 PM
Why might that be so?

Jim I think the answer to this is pretty straight forward and can be summed up in five words - Arthur Morris, Birds as Art.

I think Artie's style, as well represented in the many images on this site by him and many others, including my own efforts, has taken hold more strongly in the States, partly because he has written the bible on the subject, both the old & new testaments (ABP & ABP II).

I'd also suggest that he has sold fewer copies of his books in Europe, or they are less widely distributed there to have made as much of an impact, so you see more of the environmental type of image because that has been more of the standard in the past. (I have no way to know if this is true, but I suspect it is.)

For me, I make the image that the bird allows me to make. I tend to make the BAA style of image when I can, but the environmental image comes naturally to me too when me lens isn't long enough, the background doesn't lend itself to that style, or my eye for landscape images takes hold. I suspect that as more European photographers, indeed photographers from around the world, become more familiar with the BAA style, you'll see more of it in general.

That does bring me to another point, but that is the subject for another thread that I'll start sometime soon.

Jim Poor
02-22-2008, 07:09 PM
That is a very good point.

Robert Amoruso
02-22-2008, 08:38 PM
My style is dictated in some part by where I am shooting. Certain locations yield themselves better to environmental type images, others to produce close-ups, low-angle etc. because the site and subjects allows me that approach.

I have created images from blinds and when I was making those images it was great fun. When I seat in a blind and did not see one bird in 4 hours, I was bored out of my skull. At least if I am on a beach and don't find any birds I will have other opportunities.

BTW, when I finally got out of the blind because the ranch owner was coming to pick me up no less then 7 birds flew in to the attractants. Then I created images. Go figure. :)

Wayne Nicholas
02-22-2008, 09:46 PM
I love the right shot with a clean BG.....for art. But, I prefer to shoot with a more habitat inclusive composition.

Judd Patterson
02-23-2008, 12:03 AM
Both image types can be really effective. But, my preference is strongly for a well crafted image that has elements of habitat included. They can be very tough to create well, but in the rare image when all elements comes together, the impact is huge! I think part of the appeal for me is that they can speak volumes for habitat conservation.