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Thread: A plea for responsible photography

  1. #1
    Avian Moderator Randy Stout's Avatar
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    Default A plea for responsible photography

    Good day all:

    I went to the the local bird sanctuary today to see what migrants were present. I was pleased to see a large number of new migrants, canvas backs, buffleheads, northern shovelors, etc.

    On the way out, I stopped to talk at the office. I wanted to discuss ways to make the center more photographer friendly. Currently, there are four foot fences around all the water areas, so its not possible to get low angle shots.

    They told me however, that just this last weekend, when the front gates were still locked, two male photographers hiked in, climbed over the fences surrounding the ponds, and were wading around in their waders. Needless to say, when they were discovered, this caused a big uproar. This type of behavior will have wide ranging implications and put further restrictions on photographers, not allow better access as I was hoping for.

    We are often our own worst enemies. I don't know who they were, but know a lot of the photographers that go their regularly, and will ask around. A few irresponsible folks will ruin it for us all.

    I am not above temptation. I was at a workshop once where corn was fed against the rules to the birds. I didn't do the feeding, but did take pictures, and have felt bad about this since. The rules are the rules, and we can work to change them, but have to obey the existing ones.

    Randy

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    Randy, I had the opportunity to meet you recently and quickly realized that you were a responsible, sensible, and ethical photographer--considerate of the rules, wildlife and other photographers. I agree with you that the actions of some photographers can ruin it for us all. I have photographed the snow geese at Pocosin Lakes NWR each January for the past five years. Early on I was generally the only photographer out there, but in recent years I am seeing more and more photographers. I have witnessed photographers entering posted closed areas on a number of occasions. I am also seeing more and more refuge personnel patrolling the area and more restrictions on photographers.

  3. #3
    Lance Peters
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    Unreal - what drives people to do these sorts of things?? Is it in the hope of getting a wining competition shot??
    We are our own worst enemies and unfortunately cannot control the actions of others and we all get lumped together with the irresponsible tag.

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    Publisher Arthur Morris's Avatar
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    I am glad to say that over my 26 1/2 years I have seen very little of the above, but with more and more folks joining our ranks daily there are bound to be problems. When you see obvious violations I suggest that folks photograph the offender and their vehicle license plate if possible, and contact the authorities and send them the images. To do otherwise is cowardly. Confronting the offender in as gentle a manner as possible as long as you do not fear for your safety is an option.

    If you either look the other way or state that you do not "want to be a snitch," you are hurting all of us.

    I am preparing a piece called "Common Sense Photographic Ethics" for the next Bulletin and will post a link here when it is published.
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  5. #5
    BPN Viewer Rocky Sharwell's Avatar
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    I try to keep the number of local law enforcement and park/refuge managers in my cell wherever I am photographing. It has come in handy to report dogs at Ft. DeSoto many times....

  6. #6
    ShSimpson
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    Back in 2003 I lived in Montreal and we were fortunate enough to have an influx of Great Gray Owls take temporary residence on a smaller island near the Island of Montreal. It was not long before news of this travelled throughout the photographic and bird watching community. Soon there was hundreds of vehicles there each day to view these fine birds. My shooting partner and I went out at least 3 times a week for the period that these birds were there and what a great photo opportunity they presented.

    Unfortunately they also presented the same opportunity for those that could care less about rules. Land owners were constantly having to chase people off of their land. We had stopped and asked permission at a couple of these same places and were granted access. In most cases all you have to do is be courteous and ask and many of the land owners will say yes. There were a few isolated instances of skirmishes between photographers and land owners. Even though it may only have been a few instances it reflects on us all as a community.

    There was another debate that these birds brought to the forefront and that was baiting. We witnessed a fellow who had live mice tied to a string and he would never let the bird capture the bait. Many of the pet stores quit selling these things, that were typically feed for large snakes and reptiles and it some cases pet mice. We challenged the one fellow and he got down right indignant about it. It was his right to do anything he though necessary to get the shot.

    What I did find is that if you sat long enough in one spot in the view of one of these owl they would quit often start to move closer to you. They were not scared of humans at all. In fact the first day out a local directed us to one that was sitting on the ground in the road ditch. We thought it was injured at first because we could get within a couple of feet of it. I saw photographers shaking trees trying to get them to fly, throwing things at them and it was a horrible display of professionalism by members of this community. These were not people with a 10D and 70-200, they had pro bodies with 500 or 600mm lenses.

    In some respects I felt relieved when the birds finally moved on.

  7. #7
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    There are jerks everywhere, why should our field be any different. I think most folks try to do the right thing but it is easy to forget some the rules. Maybe regular reminders of good ethical photographic behavior would help. Also, continued discussion like this is helpful. I have seen our respected colleagues put seed out to bring in birds for photo reasons. Is that OK to do? Is that OK to do in your back yard, but not at a National Park or county park for instance?

    I like Art's suggestions that we confront wrong behavior, to help control those few jerks that we do have in our ranks. But to do so, we need to be sure of the rules, when they are not so crystal clear.

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    Publisher Arthur Morris's Avatar
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    As far as feeding, you gotta know the local rules and play by them, just like in golf

    Feeding the birds in a NWR is not permitted but they grow crops for the birds and at Elizabeth A. Morton NWR on Long Island they encourage folks to feed the songbirds! You simply need to inquire at each location.
    BIRDS AS ART Blog: great info and lessons, lots of images with our legendary BAA educational Captions.: we will not sell you junk. 30+ years of long lens experience/e-mail with gear questions.
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    BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo Tours (IPTs): San Diego -- January 2019, Galapagos Photo Cruise of a Lifetime -- July 2019. UK Puffins, Gannets, and Red Kites, late June 2019.

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