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David Hunter
01-03-2008, 12:22 PM
I have a question about the baiting of birds (or animals in general). I’m not for or against it, and I’m not trying to start any kind of ethical post war. I know that some photographers use mice (owls, raptors) I have read in these forums and a few others about using an iPod or similar device for bird calls. I’m new to the professional nature photography community and I would like to know how often it is done and what your thoughts on its usefulness or what it adds or detracts from your images.

My background is in photojournalism where it is highly unethical to alter or enhance a photographic scene either at the time the image is taken or in post production unless the image is identified as an illustration or an environmental portrait of a person. But now that I have said that I’m wondering if you use some seed to bring in a song bird, isn’t that an environmental portrait? Is it different if you use a fish to get an eagle or osprey for a close up? Just some thoughts. What are yours?

Fabs Forns
01-03-2008, 12:49 PM
Good question, Dave.

Speaking to a biologist about the use of bait, his opinion was that feeding a wild bird in an non-consistent way, like on occasion, for a photograph, will not affect the species in any way, versus making the bird dependent on your food.

I do have a problem with baiting and not delivering the goods, making the bird wait precious energy without compensation and the way to replace that energy with a free meal.

As for the song tapes, they are widely used and if you use them with caution, I see no problem either, unless you do it close to a nest in the breeding season, that would distract the adults from their chores and thous affect their lives.


Willing to hear what others think about this.

Susan Griffith
01-03-2008, 04:24 PM
Hi Dave,

I would like to add a few things from a wildlife biologists point of view. In nature films it is considered a violation of ethics to bait with vertibrate animal as marty stoufer found out when he would stake a rabbit on a teather to bait bob cats. Working to study some animals like owls and other birds of prey ( for scientific study) they will bait the animals with mice, pidgeons, or starlings to facilitate banding and to observe hunting flight characteristics.

Of course when i was working as a wildlife biologist I have used many baiting techniques. I am now moving in direction of becoming a nature photography professional (fingers crossed) and have set a few rules that i need to follow.

!. baiting birds with feeders is ok. As Fabs Forns (http://www.birdphotographers.net/forums/member.php?u=3) mentioned it is good to be non consistent when feeding so that no dependancies are developed. Back yard feeders are ok to have filled all the time, but when out on the trails or back country no permanent food source shuold be set up.

2. I have to say i would use mice to bring in an owl on occasion with the caviat that all food/bait animals are treated with the utmost care and given the best possible quality of life prior to being offered up as prey.

3. i would not under any circumstances try to bait larger animals instead opting out to set up a blind at an already dead animal or recent kill to get pictures of larger carnivors. Of course always staying upwind as to not affect the behavior of the animals that come to feed.

4. Using a tape/CD/or Ipod reproductions of bird calls can be used to call in birds, but i dont think i would ever use this method in the same place more than once or twice over the period of a few weeks so that you don't disrupt range type behaviors. And never use them near known active nest sites during the breeding season. In cases like goshawks they generally get very angry and will typically dive bomb you with intent to hurt. Generally if you know of a nest site of preditory birds you can find the adults hunting not too far away and should be able to take photographs with out bothering them.

In general it is best to respect nature and tread lightly after all you are in their home. I would love to hear what others would add, with respect to what they would or would not do.

-Susan

Jim Fenton
01-03-2008, 05:26 PM
Is overuse of the baiting on a particular individual (the bird...not the photographer :)

There has been some discussion lately about specific instances...one regarding a northern hawk owl, where photographers were "feeding" as single owl what was reportedly dozens of mice per weekend.

It just doesn't seem like a good idea to me to take a creature which has to rely on hunting to stay alive (especially in the winter), load it up with purchased mice or other mammals which might / might not have been treated with hormones, chemicals or whatever where they were bred, and allow that owl to become accustomed to being fed. They aren't dumb creatures and they learn quickly.

Totally different IMHO from feeding seed gatherers at a backyard feeding station.

Susan Griffith
01-03-2008, 07:39 PM
Well i think that in the instance you mentioned concerning the northern hawk owl, that may be over doing it. for a couple of reasons.

1. its a regular feeding schedule.
2. the amount of mice being used to feed the owl.

I am not sure if the mice are being fed hormones or chemicals, most the mice that are in the pet trade for feeding snakes and other preditor pets are generally feed dog food peletes.

We have a Great horned owl that lives on the edge of a field not too far from our apartment We see him daily, luckily i think he goes unnoticed but there is plenty of food for him to eat in the fields ( at least until it is developed ) so he stics around. I would love to see this bird in flight catching something, but because of its location close to a housing development i am reluctant to try bringing him out into the open with a mouse. Maybe someday i will get lucky and be watching him with my camera ready when he decides to hunt :D


I think in the case of the northern hawk owl i would probably use about a half dozen mice one weekend out of 8. no guarantee he will be there when i would go back, but it would also not be an impact on his life.

But thats just the way i would handle it.

I think we have to keep in mind that all of our actions have consequeses and what we may think is benign may have devistating results.

Kenn Christensen
01-04-2008, 05:57 PM
this is a very interesting subject... Ive wondered recently just how the beautiful captures of owls coming head on were accomplished.. Ive seen Snowy and hawk.. both artic owls.. my limited experience with artic owls seems to indicate they have little fear of man when they are hunting.. so I assume these owls were either coming to bait or being called by mouse "sounds".... from what Im hearing.. a real mouse reward should be present if you do indeed use sounds... that seems fair... my encounters with owls have nearly always been sporadic.. Id wondered about feeding them.. It seems not to be a concern.... Ive also wondered about calling... soooo just HOW do you use an IPOD for such a thing,,,, Ive been preparing for some limited calling this year... just occassional and intermintant.... my bg is a degree in fisheries and wildlife with some field experience... I have a huge respect for wildlife....

Roberta Olenick
01-05-2008, 03:11 AM
Where the mice that were fed to the hawk owl tethered in some way, or if they did not get eaten by the owl, did they escape into the wild? Having them escape would not be good at all - there are already too many introduced species wreaking havoc all over the world. Not to mention that it would be rather cruel to subject a pet store mouse used to a warm cage to the trials of trying survive the cold snows of winter if it did escape.

Roberta Olenick
www.neverspook.com

Christine Hudnall
01-05-2008, 05:26 AM
I keep my bird feeders going year round, I plant extra plants so that the different animals can enjoy them along with me. Every time our GHOs call out I answer them back. I seriously doubt that they once thought my rendition of their call was another owl. :)

If for one second I thought that I was hurting them in any way, shape or form, I'd quit, no hesitation. What I do worry about though is the baiting with live food. I guess I would be an 'on the fence' person.

Here is example of what I worry about: Say that I bait our GHOs and this one weekend I offered up 8 mice. Now, not known to me at the time, right down the road is another photographer, who is doing the same thing, and later we find out someone else is doing it a couple of houses further. This gets repeated over and over. Now, none of us knew the other was doing it, so we thought that we were doing the GHOs no harm. Or, were we harming them inadvertently?

Once we knew about the others, sure, we could try to regulate when we fed them, but unless we catch and cage the owls, we can't stop them from going 6 blocks over and having the same thing repeated.

Hmmm, the more I write here, the more I keep thinking, no, I don't want to bait with live food. If I miss the shot, I miss the shot. For my sanity, it's not worth it. As far as calls, I'm still doing my own research on that. :)

Just my thoughts...

Harold Stiver
01-05-2008, 10:41 AM
Well this is going to be an interesting forum. I posted a quote from Ontario hotline noting details of possible prosecution for baiting owls, surely information that is of interest here. I offered it as revelent. I took no position myself

Arthur then posted a reply in which he tried to refute"my" statements.

I pointed out to him that these where not "my" statements.

Rather than correct himself, all these posts were removed.

Do you really think censoring out posts to cover up mistakes by the publisher is a good idea? I guess this post will disappear as well.

Arthur Morris
01-05-2008, 10:46 AM
Hi Harold,

No Harold, your new post has not and will not disappear.

I just sent you this e-mail (in which I freely admitted my error). In addition, the item that you quoted inferred (using the words l"likely: and "opinion" when referring to the legality of the practice) that baiting owls was illegal but then gave instructions on how folks should gather photos and info to get photographers arrested and convicted...

Hi Harold,

I wanted to let you know that I deleted your post and the follow-ups. I am sorry that I misread your original post. That was one long quote...

IAC, I know that you realize that this is an extremely volatile topic, and your post was of an extremely inflammatory nature.

I do not know the whole situation, but am concerned by the fact that many birders judge anyone with a camera as a criminal. I have been doing this for 25 years and birding for 32.

I have seen more than a few birder do some really stupid things, many of those on a consistent basis.

I would welcome a (sic: less inflammatory) post by you stating what you know to be the facts and clearly stating your opinions on the matter.

Respectfully,

artie

ps: I do want you to know that I agree that there is a good chance that the photographers need to cool it with that particular owl...

Harold Stiver
01-05-2008, 11:13 AM
Arthur, thank you for clearing that up and for taking the time to email me with your thoughts on this.

Let me restate some information on this.

A very volatile post has been written by the moderator of ONTBIRDS suggesting that legal action should be taken against those who are live baiting of the NHO here in Ontario, and his words are likely welcomed by many birders in this area.

Any photographers who have plans to travel here to do that should consider that they may find themselves in a hostile situation, and that it would be common sense to let the heat defuse somewhat.

Thanks, Harold

Brandon Holden
01-05-2008, 11:56 AM
I agree that the post to ontbirds would be of importance to people here. Ontbirds is a community of over 2000 of the most active birders in Ontario, and this post gave actual instructions on the steps needed to be done for legal action. (by the moderator itself).

I think reading the origional post would be the best way for people here to form their own opinions about it.

http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/ONTB.html

The latest message from January 4th.

All the best,

Brandon

Jody Melanson
01-05-2008, 01:54 PM
I tried calling The Humane Society and Minister of Natural Resources today to get the truth. Unfortunately they are both closed for the weekend. I did a search on both websites with the words "bait, baiting, lure and luring" and only saw it is illegal to bait if you hunt. It made no mention of Owls or any other Raptor for photography though. I think these are only opinions and scare tactics from the birders, not fact. Will find out Monday AM.

This is all I could find out about baiting from : http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/mnr/enforcement/ask_faq_wildlife.html

It only refers to hunting and says nothing about photography.

Begin quote:

Question Re: Use of Bait to Hunt
There has been some discussion about this, and I have been unable to find it in the regulations.

Is it legal to bait bears in the fall, or bait deer, moose, etc.? How do buck lures, etc., fall into this? Are there restrictions on types of bait, distance, etc.?

Answer:
There are no restrictions on the use of baits (or scents, or lures) in Ontario, except those which restrict the use of bait for migratory birds and Wild Turkey.

This means that you can use either food or scents to attract deer, bear, moose, or most any other game animals. That being said, you need to also be cognizant of the Public Lands Act, which regulates the use of Crown Lands, including littering or otherwise depositing material on public land. If you were to get over-zealous with you depositing and under-zealous with your clean up, you may find yourself in conflict with this piece of legislation.

End quote.

Interesting info I did find though, I can have a Northern Hawk Owl to use for Falconry! Cool! Just have to get permits. :D

Begin quote.

Birds that may be used for falconry

There are two categories of bird that may be kept in captivity for falconry: "Falconry Birds" that are species of birds native to Ontario, and "Non-indigenous Falconry Birds" that are birds not native to Ontario.

"Falconry Birds" means:

* Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
* Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)
* Peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus)
* Northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis)
* Gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus)
* Northern harrier (Circus cyaneus)
* Broad-winged hawk (Buteo platypterus)
* Cooper's hawk (Accipiter cooperii)
* Red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus)
* Red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
* Sharp-shinned hawk (Accipiter striatus)
* American kestrel (Falco sparverius)
* Merlin (Falco columbarius)
* Great horned owl (Bubo virginianus)
* Northern hawk owl (Surnia ulula)
* Snowy owl (Nyctea scandiaca)

You need a falconry licence (apprentice, general, or commercial) to keep falconry birds in captivity. You will also need a valid small game hunting licence to hunt with these birds. All birds must be banded, and you must maintain a log book and submit an annual report on each bird.

End quote.

I think this needs to be put into perspective in the grand scheme of things. People are giving him food, not hitting him in the head with a hammer or shooting him.

Johnny Bravo
01-05-2008, 05:29 PM
I'm loving this forum so far....seeing a volatile topic like this responded to with thoughtful responses is refreshing.

Personally I've no problem with feeding or using an ipod to call up birds--within the limits of reason of course (not calling them off nests, or where it's prohibited, etc.)

There certainly is such a thing as caring about the shot at the cost of the subject. One of the local Orange Country photographers found out recently that infringing on federally protected nesting areas is a very bad idea. The joker was fond of putting on a wetsuit and running around the Bolsa Chica wetlands. One day he got the brilliant idea that it'd be cool to swim into the nesting preserve for the (near endangered) elegant terns---what a fool.

Per the Huntington Beach Independant:
"Officials say Huntington Beach resident Charles Michael Harris, 40, broke rules and swam

out to an island full of nesting elegant terns to get a better shot with his camera. Now Harris,
described by officials as a photographer working on a book, has been charged with seven
misdemeanor counts of violating environmental laws.
There are usually 400 or 500 pairs of elegant terns hatching their eggs out on a small island
in the wetlands each summer, said Jeff Stoddard, a wildlife biologist with the California
Department of Fish and Game. But when faced with a human incursion, they nearly all flew
off and let their eggs die in the cold.
“A lot of the birds were flying the whole time when the guy came out,” Stoddard said.
“It was cold weather. The birds were out there some time, and the eggs just kind of died.
There were gulls just walking through the colony eating the eggs.”
It’s against the law to go out to protected habitat like that, Stoddard added. When a scientific
aide noticed birds circling, the agency sent a warden in."

I've made a note of the guys name, and if he ever publishes anything I intend to dog him and do everything I can to see that no image he produces ever sells or wins an award.

Arthur Morris
01-05-2008, 06:23 PM
Bravo!, Johnny, (Sorry, I couldn't resist.) Interesting article about Mr. Harris but still some inaccuracies... The tern eggs that were eaten by the gulls surely did not hatch, but cold, even severe arctic cold, is rarely responsible for failed nests. Heat is far deadlier to the eggs.

When I spoke to Mr. Harris a while back, he said, and I quote, "It seemed like a good idea at the time."


Not...

Good work Jody. I just love that hunters can blast the birds out of the sky or blast them out of season while incubating (White-fronted Goose in Barrow, AK), biologists can trap them, capture them, band them, kill them in a tennis ball can (saw that 2X in one day during a demo at Cape May--both Cooper's Hawks), and have them slam into mist nets, etc., but if a bird just raises its head to look at a photographer, then the photographer is a criminal.

I read today that a local birding group is looking for folks to drive sparrows into mist nets, dozens of stampeding birders disturbing birds on purpose. And they bragged that they were not gonna use a four inch rope as some other groups do.

As I said, the only thing to do is love it.

later and, you guessed it, love, artie

Kenn Christensen
01-05-2008, 09:16 PM
wow... this is really something..... and its also really the reason that though I graduated in fisheries and wildlife biology that I pursued a career elsewhere... there are so many politics involed its unreal... its really all about feed the loudest chick in the nest.... (or the richest)... I couldnt stand it... I gave up.... I went into computers.. but now thank goodness... Im back.. in the form of a nature photographer... I love nature.. I love the wild... I have my own ethics which I dont try and cram down anyones throat... the word hyprocrite just seems to circle my head way to often for comfort... I cant aford to point any fingers at anyone.... I will just follow my own ethics... and love everyone else........ I for sure dont know what is right... its all so complex.... bait birds? what kind? what time of year? how often? where? how close are you when you make your art? did they see you? are others doing the same thing to the same birds? who else saw you do it? did you admit it or not? did you clone out that branch? oh come on.... the best bet is to just live and let live..... if someone has a problem with what you do... stop it immediatly... and say your sorry... there will always be another time and another place.. if its that important to you.. you WILL find it....
I personally dont think Im into baiting.. but I dont have it in for someone who is.... I cant see what it hurts in the long run... ok.. in the short run... something probably gets killed... as long as a predator lives... something will always get killed... if it doesnt.. the predator will die.... if you are one with nature you understand this.... if your not.. then spend some time out there... I think you will get it.... I dont know home many times Ive seen a predator make a kill... the most spectacular was I was just waiting for the right position on a red poll... when all I say was a set of talons sink into his head and yank him out of my fov....... wow.. those sharpies are fast aint they? he never knew what hit him....

Harold Stiver
01-06-2008, 01:32 PM
I think this needs to be put into perspective in the grand scheme of things. People are giving him food, not hitting him in the head with a hammer or shooting him.

But he didn't need to be given food. I saw him shortly after it was reported, before the crowds settled in, and in a four hour period he captured three wild voles BTW, the sight of this bird ripping apart a vole is both gruesome and astonishing. My point is, he was self-sufficient and didn't need anyone to feed him.

Other considerations aside, if photographers had supplemented his diet with a live mouse or two, it would probably not have been a problem.

However, reports are:
1. Photographers are given the bird over 20 mice a day on some occasions. (Although some have the endearing habit of holding the mouse and snatching it away as the bird comes close)

2. The bird has sensibly decided that he doesn't need to work for a living, and now flies directly to photographers looking for a handout.

3. The bird is habituated to people. Take a look at the image of it using a photographer's tripod as a perch. Can anyone honestly say this isn't a bird habituated to people? Would anyone like to argue that habituating a wild animal to people isn't a bad thing?

BTW, I don't want to lay this at the door of any one photographer. The location of this bird has meant that he was not only accessible to a great many photographers, but to a great many birders, many of them very casual, many of them who had brought young children because of the holidays.

Regardless of your personal feelings on baiting, it makes good sense to let the fires cool on this one.

Arthur Morris
01-06-2008, 01:34 PM
Has this bird been present in previous years?

later and love, artie

Harold Stiver
01-06-2008, 01:53 PM
Has this bird been present in previous years?

later and love, artie

No, this is the most southerly bird I know of in a southern Ontario winter.

We usually have a couple of birds at least, every winter in southern Ontario unlike the other northern owls which are irruptive and only come about every 5-7 years. They tend to find a vole rich area and stay for extended periods.

Incidently there have been very few reports of GGOW and very few Snowies. Amhearst island is apparently not good but nearby Wolfe Island has at least 4 Snowy Owl.

Cheers, Harold

Daniel Cadieux
01-06-2008, 02:36 PM
There was a Hawk-owl present an hour's drive north of Ottawa last winter, and the same debate(s) arose. This one was also relatively close to a large metropolitan area (two if you count Montreal not too far either) and crowds began showing up after reports about how tame and easily locateable it was. Baiting was done on it, and when I visited it with some photography friends it showed up out of nowhere as soon as we got out of our cars and it waited, from very close range, for a handout. Habituated? You bet.

Our friends had brought some mice too. When we got there it was very early and quiet (crowd-wise - we were the only ones there). We quietly went about our business and had a good time but by the time we got to the last mouse (the 5th or 6th) many hours later there was a mob-like frenzy of 30+ photographers following us and our bait, waiting for the shot, jockeying for position, some trying to get closer and in the way of others in their mad anticipation of the "release" of bait. By then it was something I had suddenly been turned off of and quickly left after that and vowed not to return to see that particular owl. I learned a couple of valuable lessons that day.

Weeks went on and I read all the reports, the controversies, the online wars, the lies, the finger pointing, the denying, stories of police showing up to dissipate the crowds, angry locals not used to such crowds in their quiet town...seems boreal owls bring out the worst in some people - and most of it caused by baiting issues. We discuss alot about ethics towards the birds (and rightfully so) but sometimes forget about the ethics between each other too. I'm not saying I would never bait or participate in baiting again but it must be done in a respectful, and discreet way. If other people show up, its time to put the mice away and just let everyone have a good time as it should be.

I have some great memories that I will cherish forever from that beautiful bird, but sadly I also have too many memories of the negatives it brought out from some people. As it was at some point last year it's a good idea to leave the bird alone for a while, or at the very least cease the baiting.

Jody Melanson
01-06-2008, 05:07 PM
But he didn't need to be given food. I saw him shortly after it was reported, before the crowds settled in, and in a four hour period he captured three wild voles BTW, the sight of this bird ripping apart a vole is both gruesome and astonishing. My point is, he was self-sufficient and didn't need anyone to feed him.


I agree, he didn't need anyone to feed him. But a little extra food wouldn't hurt him either. While there seeing him baited, I also saw him still hunt on his own.



Other considerations aside, if photographers had supplemented his diet with a live mouse or two, it would probably not have been a problem.


I agree with you on this point also. It definitely has turned into a 3 ring circus and I will not be going back there.



However, reports are:
1. Photographers are given the bird over 20 mice a day on some occasions. (Although some have the endearing habit of holding the mouse and snatching it away as the bird comes close)

2. The bird has sensibly decided that he doesn't need to work for a living, and now flies directly to photographers looking for a handout.


I have never seen this in my few trips down there. We always had to go find him and then he could care less about us until someone baited. Are you basing these ideas on hearsay or facts that you have witnessed?



3. The bird is habituated to people. Take a look at the image of it using a photographer's tripod as a perch. Can anyone honestly say this isn't a bird habituated to people? Would anyone like to argue that habituating a wild animal to people isn't a bad thing?


The image in question is mine and I have seen the same thing happen several times with other Owls that were not baited, so this point is moot. The reason he landed on the tripod, (which wasn't mine) was it was out in the middle of a field and there were no trees close by. Hawk Owls almost always like to be at the very top of whatever they land on.



BTW, I don't want to lay this at the door of any one photographer. The location of this bird has meant that he was not only accessible to a great many photographers, but to a great many birders, many of them very casual, many of them who had brought young children because of the holidays.


This is the biggest problem in my eyes, location and he is rare. Look at how many Barred Owls are around and the same thing is not happening with them. In the times I was down there, I never saw one child though.



Regardless of your personal feelings on baiting, it makes good sense to let the fires cool on this one.

Totally agree with you on this. The only thing I don't like is the photographer bashing, insulting going on on the birding sites and the propaganda. It was publicly written on a very popular birding site that if anyone tried to explpain the baiting side of the story, they would be banned. Welcome to dictatorship! They are allowed to bash us and we are not allowed to defend ourselves. I didn't realize that bashing people is much better than baiting an Owl??!?!?!?

Another funny thing is birders bait raptors to capture them and band them. I have seen captured birds by birders and they looked extremely stressed! The Owl in question looked quite contented to me.

I am friends with many birders and they know I was baiting as i told them. They still tell me where Owls are. It is only a few with a chip on their shoulders that are causing the big problems in my eyes.

Can't we all just get along? :)

This debate is an endless one.

Meint Sijp
01-06-2008, 07:54 PM
Reading all this about baiting or not, i have to say for my self, i have no problem baiting as long as you don't over do it or harm any animals by doing so. Then i would like to heare your opinion on using fresh road kill to lay out for baiting. Have any one done this, or muby use fish??? I have never tryed baiting but have been considering using road kill for getting some good shots, But so far its only a thought couse i dont wanna harm the animals love the nature.

Kenn Christensen
01-06-2008, 08:12 PM
I have not done what your saying "per se".. yet around here its common practice to drag road kills into fields... Ive obtained permission to shoot over them.. my success is varied... if they are already coming to a kill then sitting up a blind will drive them (eagles) off.... if I set up the blind before they start coming.. and just leave it a couple of days.. I can sit inside and they will come in.... in this area you cant push in very close.... for some reason if in a blind they will not tolerate you unless you are around 75 feet away or the blind is very well concealed...

Andreas Kanon
01-07-2008, 08:46 AM
My personal opinion is that using live mammals to capture a photo is nothing that I practice nor would ever do or be a part of. If a bird is being baited and it is stirring up controversy it will reflect badly on not only the people doing it but the entire wildlife photography genre.

So saying that it does no harm is like sticking your head in the sand. Maybe not to the bird being baited but if there is controversy surrounding it which involves other people then photographers then damage is being done.

Jody Melanson
01-07-2008, 09:51 AM
My personal opinion is that using live mammals to capture a photo is nothing that I practice nor would ever do or be a part of. If a bird is being baited and it is stirring up controversy it will reflect badly on not only the people doing it but the entire wildlife photography genre.

So saying that it does no harm is like sticking your head in the sand. Maybe not to the bird being baited but if there is controversy surrounding it which involves other people then photographers then damage is being done.

Ahhh, but you need to realize, this same group of birders that are so outspoken also give us a hard time for merely photographing birds in general - bait or no bait. It is a pack or a lynch mob mentality going on here. Only a few have started the problem and the rest follow along mindlessly. These same birders see no problem using mist nets, for banding, which kill birds. They have no problem using bait themselves to lure raptors in (in some case the bait is eaten) to band them. I have personally witnessed said trapped birds stressing like mad and have walked away in disgust.

So let's analyze this so far. The vocal ones causing the problems already have a hate on for photographers, meanwhile they do the exact same thing we do and worse. The photographers get the bum rap since we seem to be a more level headed, peace loving group and don't voice our concerns about the birders trapping, killing birds (used for bait and the ones they don't get to quick enough stuck in their nets or traps)?

If we photographers just walk away, doesn't this just reinforce their bad behavior and make us look guilty of some crime (which it isn't a crime to bait)? (remember I will not being going back to see or bait this Owl, merely because I have been there, baited sparingly, have gotten the images I wanted and now leave him to his own devices)

I don't know about you, but I'm not fond of bullying.

Craig Thompson
01-07-2008, 10:31 AM
Interesting topic. There have been a number of good points made both pro & con.

One thing I have noticed with these types of issues is, regardless of the vast number of folks who will engage (with careful & thoughtfull action, behaving in a responsible, ethical manner) in activities that have some controversy attached to them.
There usually appears to be a sort of "Bell Curve" of individual feelings on what constitutes bounderies of "acceptible, ethical behaviour", and a gradient at the limits of what becomes actual irresponsible, harmful interaction with the subject. All of it seemingly dependent mostly on the "subjective" feelings, motivations and beliefs of the miriad individuals involved in the debate.

Regardless of the nature of the activity generating controversy,.. is spite of the number (or lack therof) of participants,.. Inevitabely at least one individual comes along who either doesn't think or doesn't care and acts in a completely irresponsible/destructive and/or dangerous fashion. Just as inevitabley, this individual & their action(s), garner the publicity and then becomes the "model" used to describe the rest of the folks engaging in various practices.

I tend to be careful about broadly endorsing any behaviour that I find acceptable & would freely engage in for the above mentioned reasons. I recognise that even though I am careful to restrict my actions voluntarily, in order to limit my impact on an animal or environment. Ethical considerations of these sorts do not lend themselves to concrete, black or white, universally recognised boundaries!

Someone (who probably cares as deeply about the subject as I do, no doubt) is likely to feel that my self imposed limits are not sufficient to assure protection, and there will just as likely, be someone who feels (rightly or wrongly) that they can extend the boundaries "just a little",.. without causing any harm! Eventually, these incremental extensions result in someone acting as if there are "No" restrictions at all, genuinely causing harm or harassment.

This in turn results in some type of "All or nothing" solution being applied to the situation, leaving those who HAVE been behaving ethically & responsibly, feeling persecuted and unfairly restricted. Thus we end up with "the goose raising it's head" analogy and it's fairly ridiculous (IMO, [the key word being 'O", of course]) assertion that this action constitutes "harassment" of the subject!!

I don't have any concrete answers to these considerations. Just throwing out my 2 cents. As I said in the begining,.. It's an interesting topic!

Craig

Martin Dyer
01-08-2008, 11:28 AM
I have read this post with interest and some degree of concern.

I don't hold with the argument that because Group A does this, then it is fine for Group B to do that.

Here in the UK, this is our Code of Conduct, some of it is enshrined in law via Schedule 1 for rare species during the nesting season.

http://www.thenaturegroup.org/public_pages/cop.cfm

This is agreed between The Royal Photographic Society (The RPS) and The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (The RSPB), which I have membership to both.

For me, in this debate, the opening sentence in the introduction is the KEY statement and should be embedded in anybody who has a love of wildlife.


There is one hard and fast rule, whose spirit must be observed at all times. The welfare of the subject is more important than the photograph.

Over here too, the use of live prey put out for training falconry birds is also not permitted - why should we do it for photography?

Martin

Scott Fairbairn
01-08-2008, 05:52 PM
I think it would be pretty tough to prove that giving a bird a free meal is harming it, if that is so, then a lot of bird feeders need to be taken down.
The only possible harm could come from possible hormones/antibiotics. That reason is frequently bandied about as a "possible" issue of concern.
I was picking up some birdseed a couple of days ago at the local pet store. They sell feeder mice for reptiles and such. I decided to ask the owner about how the mice are raised, and when I asked about hormones/antibiotics, he laughed. He said there was no need(a mouse only needs a matter of weeks to be big enough to sell), and at $2 a mouse, it wouldn't be worth it due to the cost of bedding changes, food and so on.
I think it has less to do with harm to the bird and more do with observers.

Steve Foss
01-08-2008, 09:50 PM
This is a debate that has long been settled in my mind, and any of my feelings pro and con already have been expressed here.

Let me simply add that baiting wild large predators can have very nasty consequences if it's done often enough to the same wolves to habituate them to being fed by or near humans. I'm going to post a link to a report by the Alaskan Fish and Game Department detailing 80 wolf/human encounters in Alaska, Canada and northern Minnesota. In some of these encounters, wolves showed aggression, including outright attacks. In many of those cases, the animals were either rabid or had been habituated to feeding by humans.

You can find the report here: [/URL][URL="http://www.wildlife.%3Cb%3Ealaska%3C/b%3E.gov/pubs/%3Cwbr%3Etechpubs/research_pdfs/techb13_full.pdf"]www.wildlife.alaska.gov/pubs/<wbr>techpubs/research_pdfs/techb13_full.pdf (http://%3Cfont%20size=%22-1%22%3Ewww.wildlife.%3Cb%3Ealaska%3C/b%3E.gov/pubs/%3Cwbr%3Etechpubs/research_pdfs/techb13_full.pdf%3C/font%3E). Be warned. It's quite long, but for anyone considering baiting large wild predators it should be considered required reading.

I have images of wild wolves over a deer carcass that was a road-kill I dragged into a frozen black spruce bog lake. Is that baiting? Maybe yes, maybe no. Depends on how you look at it. The wolves, eagles and ravens feast on road-killed deer laying along roadsides and in ditches all over northern Minnesota. I also have images of a wild black wolf that approached me to within 20 yards this fall in a totally unexpected encounter. I'll be posting some of each of those images on the forums here over the next several days.

When doing so, I'll explain the circumstances of the wolves shot over the carcass and let the viewer decide whether he/she considers that baiting.

In a professional nature photographic community, ethical opinions run the gamut, and I can see the debate from many different sides. However, and I'll vent just a bit here, in the interest of full disclosure and honesty, photographers must identify whether the posted image was baited and whether it's captive. On other forums I see shooters trying to pass off captive animals as wild and baited situations as unbaited. Bad deal. Glad to see it's frowned on here.

There, enough rant. Have fun reading that report. It's an eye-opener. :eek:

Mike Poe
01-09-2008, 12:23 AM
However, and I'll vent just a bit here, in the interest of full disclosure and honesty, photographers must identify whether the posted image was baited and whether it's captive. On other forums I see shooters trying to pass off captive animals as wild and baited situations as unbaited. Bad deal. Glad to see it's frowned on here.
[/SIZE]

I would have to disagree here about "photographers must identify whether the posted image was baited and whether it's captive" unless you are mainly referring to where the image is posted. IMHO this is not necessary and I hope this is not added to any guidelines for posting. I'm not saying photographers should lie about an image if asked but having to give details surrounding how the image is made should not be a requirement.

I was told many years ago by a well known nature photographer ( a name that almost everyone here would know) that editors or the public viewing your image could care less how difficult it was to obtain. The fact someone travelled into the wilderness and spent days stalking a Brown Bear and her cubs to get a shot of them fishing in a stream does not make that image more special in the eyes of the viewer than someone who snapped a shot of a Brown Bear and cubs from a viewing platform in Katmai National Park. The same holds true for baiting or captive animals if the emotion of the image is what we are judging. I also don't care if someone added a wing tip, removed a branch, or added canvas. If a photographer wants to disclose this that is fine but my personal opinion is they should not have to nor should they try to intentionally misrepresent it.

My fear is where do you draw the line. Are feeders considered baiting ? Does any shot of a bird coming to a feeder have to be described in the caption as baiting ? What if I obtain an image where I was not providing the bait ? What if I frequent a subject that is looking for a handout because of past practices and as such I obtain an image without baiting, do I need to disclose that?

Steve please don't take the next statement being directed at you but I think the viewpoint you are alluding to has been embraced by the nature photography community as one of wanting to make sure all photographs get judged on a level playing field on how the image was acquired. Rather I would hope that the image is judged on the emotion it invokes in the viewer. I relate it to watching a magician perform. I enjoy seeing a great trick and trying to figure out how it was done. If the performer wants to share his secret that is fine but his arm should not be twisted to do so.

Steve Foss
01-09-2008, 01:03 AM
Mike, I take absolutely no offense. I can see your point of view clearly, and it has as much merit as mine.

Stephen Stephen
01-09-2008, 07:49 PM
This is a very interesting discussion thread. I too photographed the Northern Hawk Owl near Ottawa last winter but on a weekend without baiting. I'm not necessarily for (if done in a manner to not disrupt the bird) or against that activity. It was my first time seeing a NHO and although I only got "bird on stick" shots under some very cold winter conditions I was pleased to add that species to me image collection.

I have a birding friend who tells me that he's seen good photographers and birders and bad photographers and birders. I've certainly seen some poorly behaved ones in both groups as well. What's most important, IMHO, is how all of our activities impact on the bird.

Most of us out there because we love experiencing nature and we should all do our best to respect and protect it. I would suggest that if we see someone (photographer, birder or anyone) doing something unacceptable, we should try and explain what potential harm could come to the bird/animal if their behaviour persists. Obviously this cannot be done in all cases nor do I expect that everyone will accept our comments with the grace with which they are offered but shouldn't we try?

Steve Foss
01-10-2008, 11:04 AM
Mike, I may have been clumsy in wording my intent, there, but I wanted to clarify something. My meaning is that here on BPN and other boards geared to the professional and serious amateur, baiting/captive disclosure should be part of the equation. I know that print customers don't much care one way or the other, most of them, anyway. That they're just interested in being moved by the impact of the image. And it's sure possible for anyone in the general public to look in here at the fine photography, but it's really more of an "insider's" community here, and I believe we should let each other know the circumstances of the photograph.

And yes, feeding birds at a backyard feeding station is baiting, technically speaking. You're using food to lure the birds close enough to view for your own enjoyment or photograph. That's baiting. As always, it's a matter of degree, of personal judgment and personal ethics.

Anyway, nuff said by me!

Arthur Morris
01-10-2008, 12:04 PM
Hi Mike,

Just noted your post above. Glad that I did not miss it.

re:

I would have to disagree here about "photographers must identify whether the posted image was baited and whether it's captive" unless you are mainly referring to where the image is posted. IMHO this is not necessary and I hope this is not added to any guidelines for posting. I'm not saying photographers should lie about an image if asked but having to give details surrounding how the image is made should not be a requirement.

We strongly urge folks to let us know in their original posts whether a raptor was baited, whether a gull was brought in with fish or with bread, and whether they were working at a feeder (no matter whose feeder) or a set-up. In addition we ask that folks--again--in their original posts--let us know if anything but other than minor background distractions were taken away or if anything (including canvas) was added.

Why? I have been doing this for almost 25 years now and have seen a zillion folks view an image, either in a book or on-line, and say, Wow, that guy was lucky and I am not. He went for a walk in the woods and that's what he saw. Amazing."|

To me, and the rest of us here at BPN, this it is simply a mis-representation to neglect to mention factors relevant to creating a given image. I do agree with you that the image should be judged on it drama and impact, we just want folks to know of the various situations. With all of my experience, I pretty much know what is going on in a given photo, but that is not true of most folks.

I was told many years ago by a well known nature photographer ( a name that almost everyone here would know) that editors or the public viewing your image could care less how difficult it was to obtain. T

As above, I do agree but if you wish to quote someone, please state their name. Thanks.

I also don't care if someone added a wing tip, removed a branch, or added canvas. If a photographer wants to disclose this that is fine but my personal opinion is they should not have to nor should they try to intentionally misrepresent it.

I for one are glad that you do not care, and while we do respect both your opinion and your right to voice it, we will continue to request that photographers let folks know the story as far as how an image was created.

My fear is where do you draw the line. Are feeders considered baiting ? Does any shot of a bird coming to a feeder have to be described in the caption as baiting ? What if I obtain an image where I was not providing the bait ? What if I frequent a subject that is looking for a handout because of past practices and as such I obtain an image without baiting, do I need to disclose that?

Yes to all.

Later and love, artie

Dan Elster
01-12-2008, 03:42 PM
-Jody, your argument that if birder watchers are doing questionable things in the field, so should we...is a terrible one.

-The actions of a few...affect us all.

-If I were there, I would have been embarrassed and ashamed for the wildlife/bird photogrpahy community....and then left.

Poor owl!

Arthur Morris
01-12-2008, 03:55 PM
danimal,

First off, please go to your User Control panel and update to your first and last names as required. Thanks.

You wrote:


-Jody, your argument that if birder watchers are doing questionable things in the field, so should we...is a terrible one.

-The actions of a few...affect us all.

-If I were there, I would have been embarrassed and ashamed for the wildlife/bird photogrpahy community....and then left.

Poor owl!

Jody never said "if birder watchers are doing questionable things in the field, so should we" or anything close to it. You are putting words in his mouth.

If you disagree, please quote Jody directly.

All that he was saying is that the ones who scream the loudest are often those who most harrass and bother the birds.

I have been in a position of being in the field photographing some Burrowing Owls and doing absolutely nothing at all wrong when someone approached screaming that I was a criminal. Does that make me wrong?

Furthermore, I would love to know exactly what is wrong with feeding a mouse to an owl that has come south because it is starving. Having 20 birders screaming at you does not make it wrong... Please be specific.

later and love, artie

Dan Elster
01-12-2008, 05:08 PM
Sorry about the name thing, I'm new on this site. Thanks to Alfred for the help. I already hammered out quite a long response to you Arthur, but when I finished and submitted it, it told me there was an error and I was no longer logged in. Is there a time limit when responding?
Anyways, this will be a bit briefer than my first attempt..

Artie said:

"Jody never said "if birder watchers are doing questionable things in the field, so should we" or anything close to it. You are putting words in his mouth.

If you disagree, please quote Jody directly."

I would refer to the entire contents of post #25.

Artie said

"I have been in a position of being in the field photographing some Burrowing Owls and doing absolutely nothing at all wrong when someone approached screaming that I was a criminal. Does that make me wrong?"

Absolutely not Artie. Although I don't agree w/ you on some things, my hats off to you speaking up for photographers rights, etc...and your right to photograph some particular burrowing owls.
On that note, if you are speaking of the burrowing owls all around Cape Coral, I don't think it matters what anyone does...they're doomed eventually anyway.

"Furthermore, I would love to know exactly what is wrong with feeding a mouse to an owl that has come south because it is starving. Having 20 birders screaming at you does not make it wrong... Please be specific."

One bird , one location, is probably not much of a threat to the future of hawk owls as a species. But with so many bird photographers out there now...things could quickly get out of hand. Habituating any wild animal to humans isn't ideal in my opinion. Overfeeding owls, the possibility of introducing a non native rodent to an ecosystem, the possibility of something unsafe about the prey item, among other things.
The truth is, neither one of us knows what the effects of baiting will be on this particular owl. Would you agree there is at least the possibility that all of this baiting has negatively impacted that bird? If so, why risk it? If not, explain.
In short, I think the birds well-being should take priority over us getting some nice photos. Do you?

I think my first post here was worded a bit harshly and it didn't need to be. Sorry.
Dan

Arthur Morris
01-12-2008, 07:22 PM
Hi Dan, No sweat on the name thing. And there is no timing out, so not sure what happens (but I have been there and done that a lot worse...) As for what you said that Jody said, you are still wrong. What he is saying is that if photographers are not doing anything wrong should they quit because birders (who do the same things and worse) are screaming at us? That is a far cry from saying they are doing something wrong so we can do it too. He simply never said that.

As for feeding an occasional irruptive owl, I do not see any harm. I have been around a few Hawk Owls and they were totally tame as long as I moved slowly. So ten photographers feed the same owl 50 mice. I still do not see the harm. And how could you possibly differentiate that from feeding seed to finches or suet to woodpeckers?

The pet store mice cannot survive in the cold, and the snakes that are eating them by the ton are doing just fine. And no, I would not agree that feeding this particular owl may have had a negative impact on it.

When you say, "In short, I think the birds well-being should take priority over us getting some nice photos" you are assuming as the screaming birders do, that feeding a starving owl is bad for the owl.

I had no problem at all with the tone of your first post (or this one either). I just have a problem with you putting words in someone's mouth to support your position. I can fully respect it if you believe that feeding owls is bad for them, but I do disagree.

May I assume that you know what pigeon jerking is?

later and love,

artie

Dan Elster
01-12-2008, 08:38 PM
I guess you may say that I put words into someone elses mouth, although I feel like I just interpreted them. In short, why even bring up what birders are doing in this thread. I agree that mist netting among some other practices results in stress and injury(I too have seen it for myself). But that's not what this whole discussion is about. This discussion is about baiting a hawk owl.

Art said
"When you say, "In short, I think the birds well-being should take priority over us getting some nice photos" you are assuming as the screaming birders do, that feeding a starving owl is bad for the owl."

I'm not assuming anything. I'm saying it's it's possible that this bird could be affected negatively and that's enough for me. I don't think either of us knows for sure.The bird should come first.

This discussion has come up on a couple of other sites now. One guy who came away with a lot of killer pics of this now famous bird, has sworn off baiting for good. A change of heart and I'm not surprised. I've also read at least one comment about how this birds behavior has now changed significantly.

I wasn't looking for a debate w/ you on my first time on BPN Art- but I and a lot of others feel pretty strongly about this.

Peace!
Dan

Arthur Morris
01-12-2008, 08:50 PM
hi Dan, I hear you. One of our goals when we conceived this site was to allow for disagreement as long as things were done civilly and with respect. We are off to a good start.

I have been doing this for so long, coming up on a quarter of a century, that I get a bit thin skinned when I preceive that photographers rights are being threatened.

later and love, artie

Ed Erkes
01-12-2008, 11:04 PM
Ethics are moral rules we impose upon ourselves and are thus subject to different interpretations. Different individuals will have differing viewpoints, with a range going from one extreme to the other (where both extremes are often seen as obviously wrong to the majority) with a gray area between. When a group (whether it be nature photographers, lawyers, doctors, etc..) are consistently viewed as behaving unethically, there will eventually be regulations and laws enacted to enforce desired behavior. Unfortunately the actions of a few can have negative repercussions on all nature photographers and cause increasing restrictions for all of us. I personally feel that the incident with the hawk owl in Ontario is another in an increasing number of incidents where the desire to get that "great shot" has overcome normal ethical reasoning. Activities like these are what cause nature photographers to be viewed in a negative light by many birders and wildlife refuge managers. I also think it is a shame that NANPA has not provided any real guidance on issues like these. Their listed principles of ethical practice are too vague to be of much use.
Also, to my knowledge, the use of mist nets and banding of birds requires a permit. So to state that "birders" band and net birds is misleading. Researchers do the netting and banding, and while you may disagree with the value of the research, you have to admit that there is oversight of the process.

Arthur Morris
01-13-2008, 07:14 AM
Some of your points are well taken, but you are first making the assumption that feeding the owls is somehow "bad" or bad for the owl (based on your ethics). I am still waiting to hear what harm comes to the owl because it is getting fed. Follks screaming at photographers does not mean that they are doing anything wrong or unethical.

As for researchers, and I have stated this many times, the sum total of disturbance of the birds of North America done by researchers (for the most part so they can get their degree and/or their name on a published paper) exceeds the sum total of disturbance caused by bird photographers by a factor of from ten to one hundred fold.

Researchers working in tern, pelican, and others colonies disturb the birds all day long, pick up the young, trap the adults, etc. Hawk banders us live pigeons and starlings and the like to lure birds to smash into mist nets at 50 mph. This quite often results in injury or death. They place live raptors in tennis ball cans either to await processing or for public display. At times, the birds are dead when they are taken out of the cans. John G. Williams, noted ornithologist and former curator of the a prestigious museum in Nairobi Kenya told me that every bird that slams into a mist net exhibits bruises on their breasts. He knew because he skinned thousands of them. Not to mention the trauma. Shorebird researchers drag four inch ropes across the tundra to flush birds off the nests. And when they find them they handle both the eggs and the chicks, leaving a human scent trail to lead predators to the nest.

To me, having a permit does not give researchers the right to cause the magnitude of disturbance that they do.

I am not saying that there are not some photographers out there who clearly do the wrong thing, but in view of the stuff above it really does not make sense when folks say, "The bird you were photographing raised its head to look at you; you are a criminal."

later and love to all, artie

Craig Thompson
01-13-2008, 09:13 AM
[QUOTE=... in view of the stuff above it really does not make sense when folks say, "The bird you were photographing raised its head to look at you; you are a criminal."

later and love to all, artie[/QUOTE]


I agree,.. that logic, fully extended would make ALL birders, photographers, hikers, in actuality any outdoor enthusiast a criminal. Not even the most rabidly "anti-photographer" birder could claim they never flush a bird from its perch as they roam the wilds bino's in hand.

If looking at me is "a crime of harassment", causing it to leave must be a capital offense!! :eek::cool:;)

While I feel a mix of feelings over this subject, it's hard for me to take too much offense at well meaning "laypersons" when they express their concerns and become overly critical in some of these situations. As I mentioned earlier, I appreciate the genuine concern exhibited for the animals welfare. I share that concern and believe deeply in preserving the well being of the environment and animals I photograph.

Of course I can appreciate Arthur's frustration over unwarranted and extreme accusations. As I don't spend anywhere near the time in the field he does. I haven't had the number of these types of encounters that he (& others here) have. What may be more telling is that even though I don't spend a fraction of the time in the field that these Pro & ProAm photog's do,.. I have experienced a fair share of these types of reactions.

Where it starts to become sticky, IMO,.. is when the "officials". park rangers, researchers, doecents, etc. Folks who really should know better, adobt the same reactionary attitudes.

Using the "rotten apple" analogy,.. While one rotten apple SHOULD cause you to be suspicious of the rest of the barrel. It does NOT mean that all the remaining apples are bad. It would be completely irresponsible to throw the rest away without careful inspection.

2 + 2 = my 4 cents worth for now. :D:D;)

Craig

Mike Poe
01-13-2008, 11:07 AM
My original post ... I would have to disagree here about "photographers must identify whether the posted image was baited and whether it's captive" unless you are mainly referring to where the image is posted. IMHO this is not necessary and I hope this is not added to any guidelines for posting. I'm not saying photographers should lie about an image if asked but having to give details surrounding how the image is made should not be a requirement.

Artie's response ..We strongly urge folks to let us know in their original posts whether a raptor was baited, whether a gull was brought in with fish or with bread, and whether they were working at a feeder (no matter whose feeder) or a set-up. In addition we ask that folks--again--in their original posts--let us know if anything but other than minor background distractions were taken away or if anything (including canvas) was added.

My response .. I had reviewed the guidelines for posting images before responding since I was a new member. I did not find anything that stipulated the points I addressed. That being the case I was responding with my opinion in lieu of laid down rules. I still believe the guidelines fail to mention this ( at least I don't see any mention of them but I could be overlooking where they are located) so someone might want to correct them. I did receive the broadcast email to all members yesterday about including this info. Since the emphasis of the site seemed to be weighted toward critiquing images I wrongly inferred that it mattered not how it was arrived at but what improvements could be made. I also took a quick look at several images and had noted very few (only one noted using a call to attract the subject) seem to be offering up this info. There were some vague comments about where the image was made that I could infer a set-up was the usual suspect but again, as you mentioned, it is something I was aware of but someone else might not be. I now understand the guidelines more and will adhere to them.

My original post ..I was told many years ago by a well known nature photographer ( a name that almost everyone here would know) that editors or the public viewing your image could care less how difficult it was to obtain. T

Artie's response ...As above, I do agree but if you wish to quote someone, please state their name. Thanks.

My response ... I was trying not to appear as a name dropper but I could see now how my comment might be misinterpreted.
I was attending a seminar on 11/18/1988 by John Shaw and Larry West. This was one of many insights I left with. I also remember the "big" controversy that was swirling around that day as it pertained to nature photographers ...... the adoption of the new slide film from Fuji and how it made the colors appear too saturated. Slide film ... ahhh those were the days. Never had to hear the comment that a slide was over sharp. : )

As to harm to the owl I'm surprised it can even fly after ingesting the number of rodents that is being claimed : ) In all seriousness I know when I was researching falconry it was customary to weigh the bird before hunting with it. There was a proper hunting weight the bird needed to be. To light and there was risk of being too weak to hunt. Too heavy and the bird would not kill. I realize each species may be different but it would seem if the owl was full it would ignore any rodent.

Mike Poe
01-13-2008, 12:37 PM
My background is in photojournalism where it is highly unethical to alter or enhance a photographic scene either at the time the image is taken or in post production unless the image is identified as an illustration or an environmental portrait of a person. But now that I have said that Iím wondering if you use some seed to bring in a song bird, isnít that an environmental portrait? Is it different if you use a fish to get an eagle or osprey for a close up? Just some thoughts. What are yours?

Just thought I would respond to the original post and David the following comments are not directed at you since I am not familiar with your work. I have seen a few threads on other boards from photojournalists who wear the mantle of ethics as a badge of honor. It seems they feel they should be above reproach and it is true there are examples of photojournalists losing their jobs to show the industry polices their ranks. I can open up almost any magazine or newspaper and show you examples of photojournalist "enhancing a photographic scene at the time the image was taken". It is done thorough cropping thorough the viewfinder what the photojournalist wishes to include or exclude and it is done with lens selection just to name a few. An example would be choosing a telephoto lens to accentuate the crowded conditions at a refuge camp or choosing that same lens to make a road with a a few hundred people spaced out on it to appear compressed into a mass exodus.

I attended a clinic where several photojournalists were guest speakers and one commented about an award being stripped from him because he had manipulated it by darkening the background to accentuate a fireman. (The same thing could have been done with flash and smaller f stop). Even though the image was in a feature section and not used in an article about the fire it was deemed to have crossed the line. Hugh Morton who had invited the speaker and who had been a newspaper photographer then commented about a photo he had taken of the Rev.Billy Graham with a cane. Seems the paper decided it was best not to show Rev Graham with the cane so it was cropped out in the accompanying article.

Until all photojournalist are required to use a standard lens (35-50mm) and the entire image is published I will always wonder what the scene really looked like.

john crookes
01-13-2008, 01:29 PM
I am sorry Mike but I find it hard to believe that a photojournalist was stripped of an award for just darkening the background. We have done the same thing for eons in the darkroom and it is an accepted practice in the news industry.

We are not allowed to remove or import objects but normal processing of images is ok to do and these are the rules from both the NPPA ( national Pres Photographers association ) and the ASMP ( american society of media professionals )


I would like to know the conference and the photographer in question and would like to report this to these associations if the photographer has not already

Harold Stiver
01-13-2008, 02:05 PM
I am sorry Mike but I find it hard to believe that a photojournalist was stripped of an award for just darkening the background. We have done the same thing for eons in the darkroom and it is an accepted practice in the news industry.


Actually if it is the same story,he lost his job. See the story here (http://www.nppa.org/news_and_events/news/2006/08/ethics.html). This one refers to the background color being changed. There is also this story (http://zonezero.com/editorial/octubre03/october.html) regarding an altered background.

Sounds like I wouldn't last long as a journalist.

john crookes
01-13-2008, 03:46 PM
That photographer actually chaged the background not darkened as was stated by Mike Poe in his post a completely different story

Mike Poe
01-13-2008, 04:44 PM
It was the second link Harold cited. The photo of the fireman where the background was darkened. As stated I think the same they could have been created with a small f stop and flash to render the background dark.


Thanks for the link Harold and an excellent article. Seems it summed up the feelings of the audience at the seminar as well. I agree with the article and it has some bearing on my feeling in nature photography as well.

john crookes
01-14-2008, 08:42 AM
here is the link for the NPPA code of ethnics. The second story from above happened in 2003 and since that time the photographer has been cleared of any wrong doing and has been backed by his fellow photographers. The two photographers that had an issue with his award pictures are as much to blame for starting the chain of events that led up to the original problem.
http://www.asne.org/ideas/codes/nppa.htm

Kenn Christensen
01-14-2008, 07:14 PM
wow.. amazing how threads evolve from baiting to photojournalism ethics... ;) well evolution is part of life... but I wish to address the baiting issue once again...
I find it fascinating as it plays out with 2 apparent sides pro and con....
I almost find humor in the thought that a creature has struggled to find an area with more food and there is a discussion based on whether or not he should be fed... if it was me and I could hear and understand the conversation.. "oh.. dont feed him .. he wants to find food on his own"... Id be flabbergasted!.. lol..
no one can really know the fate of a given owl (lets use that since its central to the debate)... is it possible that not feeding it will cause its death? sounds like it COULD be possible... is it possible that feeding it could cause its death? hmmmmm sounds a little less plausible....
on the subject of habituating a certain owl... once again Im not sure I totally understand what the problem might be.. these owls are already fearless of man when they come south.. in fact the only reason you CAN bait them is that they have no (apparent) fear of man.... Ive seen a number of northern owls in the wild... they have treated me as an obstacle rather than a threat... this is good.. it means no one is "hurting" them... but I wish they had a bit more fear of vehicles...
I can understand people not wanting to see harm to wild creatures... I sure dont want to see that either.... I also understand the irony that sometimes research causes great harm to the creatures in the studies... I have a degree in fisheries and wildlife biology and have worked with field research before... in fisheries.. quite often in studies disruption, harm, even death was the immediate result of a study.. it was always hoped that it was for a good cause.... but who can say?
this is such a complicated subject on both sides... I think both sides need to try and understand how the other feels.. or sees things