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Thread: Head Angle Fine Points

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Merwin View Post
    I think AT has the better HA because it is turned more toward the viewer. Regardless of which image I like better the question is: "Which one has the better HA: …" AS or AT.
    And to think that I answered both with "AS." :)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Robertson View Post
    Artie, I have learned an incredible amount today as I have read the whole thread and walked through all the photos. For this pair:

    AS - The catchlight in the eye is much more pleasing to me. The lower front end of the beak works for me too.

    Hey Doug, Pretty good for a newbie here. Welcome!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Saperia View Post
    I see why so many say AS, the light works a bit better on the beak, eyes and rest of the image. The 'stare' is a bit more engaging in AS as well. I think it is the light hitting the eye and beak in AS a bit better that makes it look so good.

    If these were my images, I would take a hard look at AT and see if I could do something with that. I often like images where the bird looks more alert as the result of an extended neck as is the case with AT. In this particular case, AT is not quite as 'natural' looking to me.
    /jon

    For me AT is a delete. You missed a great tour.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Atkinson View Post
    AS is by far the better image for me, but not necessarily due to HA. This reminds me of the slimming 'before and after' shots where various small changes emphasise the difference.

    The main difference between the shots is the Eye Angle, which is hugely better in AS (angled directly at the viewer rather than forward along it's bill).
    In addition, though, AS has the following advantages:
    1. better framing of the head (more space in front than behind, unlike AT)
    2. better head size within the frame (the smaller head in AT looks a bit 'lost')
    3. better 'shape', with the head extending forward of the body
    4. better pose, with the slightly downturned head causing the feathers on the back of the head to raise more
    5. better eye positioning within the frame (see below)
    6. better illumination of the head (which is about light angle, not HA)
    7. better contrast
    8. better sharpness.

    Ignoring all the above, I think AS has a slightly better HA due to the following:
    1. better outlining of the bill and head
    2. more natural head position (AT is bolt upright, which looks awkward)
    3. more dynamic (diagonal) 'line' due to the downturned bill.

    Sorry for going off-topic, but I wanted to share my conclusion that one of the best positions for a bird's eye in the frame is three-quarters of the way up the centre vertical. I've been treating this as a 'compositional rule' that's as valid as the Rule of Thirds for some time now, and find it particularly useful in portrait-format shots. [As always, any such rule is just a guideline that doesn't work for all shots.]

    I'll send in a separate post on my compositional thoughts when I get some time.

    Mike.
    Thanks Mike for sharing your thoughts. I agree with many of them and we agree on the best head angle and the best image. I am sure that your comments will help some; I try not to get tooanalytical :)
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    Thanks to all who played the eagle round :)
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    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails CRHB.jpg  

    After having enjoyed reading this thread, i exchanged some emails with Artie about HA's when photographing hummingbirds. The attached photo shows three different HA's for the same copper-rumped hummingbird photographed last month in Trinidad. They were all taken at the same camera settings, have not had any "final processing" in PS and are only intended for discussion of their HA's. "A" is rotated a few degrees towards the viewer, "B" is at about 45 degrees to the viewer, and "C" is almost directly/90 degrees towards the viewer. Is there a preferred HA, which would you keep or delete?
    Last edited by Peter Hawrylyshyn; 04-04-2011 at 07:19 PM.

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    Thanks a stack for posting this Peter. Everyone is welcome to contact me about posting some comparative head angle e-mails. I look forward to the gang's comments. Hummers certainly are a different breed....
    later and love, artie......... Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

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    Forum Participant Doug Robertson's Avatar
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    My preference is "A" on the hummingbirds.

    In part because in all three poses, I have a hard time telling if the bird is looking at the photographer or just staring beyond. The eyes are so different. So rather then try to guess... I go with the image where I don't have to decide if he's looking at me or not, he's not. Does that make sense?

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    I almost never care where the bird is looking as long as he is not facing the other way :)
    later and love, artie......... Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur Morris View Post
    I almost never care where the bird is looking as long as he is not facing the other way :)

    Really? But the preferred head angle nearly always has the bird making eye contact with the camera, does it not?

    Isn't it the eye, not the head angle, that makes the emotional connection with the image viewer?

  11. #361
    BPN Member Andre van As's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur Morris View Post
    As noted above, each image has its strong points. For head angle, C wins by a mile as the head is rotated towards us. With me standing behind the 800 the head of the bird in C is parallel to the back of the camera; in D, it is turned slightly away from the plane of the sensor. Had I been lying down on the beach, D would have had the best head angle as the head would have been parallel to the back of the camera. Yes, with the bill tip closer to the plane of the eye in D, the bill tip is sharper in D. But here, this was the question: "Which head angle do you prefer and why?" :)

    Note: the bird in C was in no way looking at me; birds are constantly changing head positions and angles even when they are resting. Also, this has nothing to do with eye contact but everything to do with the way the light hits the bird's face.

    Thanks all for playing. I will try to post another pair when I get back from my walk.
    I came in late but liked C before I read the opinions because the whole posture flows much better as the right leg is forward, the body is leaning forward a bit and the angle between the neck and the back is not as acute which connects the head with the body in a more pleasing way. These factors give a more cohesive picture of the bird's attention/energy being directed towards the object it is interested in

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    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Hirsch View Post
    Really? But the preferred head angle nearly always has the bird making eye contact with the camera, does it not?

    Isn't it the eye, not the head angle, that makes the emotional connection with the image viewer?
    Hi Allen, I think that I have written at length on this somewhere in this thread but have no idea where :) Or it may have been elsewhere on BPN. So I will be brief. I rarely if ever utter the words "eye contact" or "catch light." I watch the head angle and the way the light hits the birds face. When I am happy, I push the shutter button. As it happens, if the bird is facing away from me the light cannot strike the face at all.... IAC, I never think eye contact. In most cases, I do not know or care what it means.

    Does that make any sense?
    later and love, artie......... Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andre van As View Post
    I came in late but liked C before I read the opinions because the whole posture flows much better as the right leg is forward, the body is leaning forward a bit and the angle between the neck and the back is not as acute which connects the head with the body in a more pleasing way. These factors give a more cohesive picture of the bird's attention/energy being directed towards the object it is interested in
    Welcome Andre, You raise many good points. My opinion on those two images is in Pane 37. As there have been 361 or so comments, that pair is old news.

    Did you miss this in Pane #1:

    Important note: this is an ongoing thread. You can learn a lot by scrolling down but if you have played before and are re-visiting it would be best to go to the last page and scroll down to see the latest offerings.
    later and love, artie......... Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur Morris View Post
    Hi Allen, I think that I have written at length on this somewhere in this thread but have no idea where :) Or it may have been elsewhere on BPN. So I will be brief. I rarely if ever utter the words "eye contact" or "catch light." I watch the head angle and the way the light hits the birds face. When I am happy, I push the shutter button. As it happens, if the bird is facing away from me the light cannot strike the face at all.... IAC, I never think eye contact. In most cases, I do not know or care what it means.

    Does that make any sense?
    I remember elsewhere in this thread that you said you never used the term "eye contact", IIRC.

    But, as a consequence of the "right" head angle, don't you almost always get good eye contact, too? So it's a byproduct of what you're striving for: the best head angle.

    And while (non bird photographer) viewers won't necessarily be able to articulate it, they'll respond more strongly to the image with the strongest eye contact, all other things equal, because that's where the emotional connection to the wildlife in the image is made.

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    Yes. A perfect head angle often results in what many folks would consider good "eye contact." I just don't think of it that way. And I am not sure that I would agree that all types of folks will like an image better if they feel that the wildlife subject is looking at them.

    Many folks have remarked after studying a collection of my work that I seem to have some "connection" with my subjects. That I consider a supreme compliment. The funny thing is that while they all use the word "connection" none have every mentioned "eye contact."
    later and love, artie......... Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

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    I like B. I think this is the best head angle of the 3, but would like it much more if it was just a few degrees less towards us.

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    Default Oops!

    Andre, Please excuse my comments in Pane 363. I did not realize that Peter had labeled the three hummer images A, B, & C and thought that you were talking about the second pair of images on Page 1.
    later and love, artie......... Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

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    BPN Member Andre van As's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur Morris View Post
    Andre, Please excuse my comments in Pane 363. I did not realize that Peter had labeled the three hummer images A, B, & C and thought that you were talking about the second pair of images on Page 1.
    Hi Art
    My fault. I came in late and my comment was out of chronological context

    Andre

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    Yikes. Now I see that my assumption was correct :) No harm no fowl :) Anyway, it is good to have you here Andre.
    later and love, artie......... Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

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    On their own, i would have been happy with any of these. B is my preferred HA, but C is to me by far the most interesting and appealing image because of the iridescence of the gorget/head.
    Usually the iridescence is only seen with more head-on angles, but often when viewed directly head on (a "preferred" HA), individual feather details become blurred because the HB can change the feather angle to help create the effect. Thus HA can become a secondary consideration, and to quote Artie - "the gorget rules".
    I suspect the same may apply for other species where special head coloration or feather markings may make some images more appealing with less than ideal HA's.
    Thanks for the comments

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    Hi, All.

    From a pure HA viewpoint, I have a slight preference for B, followed by A, followed by C. I wouldn't delete any of them.

    I'm pleased to see the question of eye angle being raised, because I do think it's important.

    Firstly, let me say I agree with Artie about the fact that, in the field, the best thing you can do is to press the shutter when the head angle is right, because it's almost impossible to tell at that point exactly where the bird is looking. What I do think, though, is that eye angle becomes more noticeable in post-processing and can then be used as one factor in deciding which is the best image of a set to keep (see the eagle shots AS and AT for illustration).

    Actually, for most bird species, there are two different ways in which a bird can look at you - using one eye or two. Without turning their heads at all, birds can look in a range of different directions. If they see something they're particularly interested in, they will often turn their heads so that they can make use of both eyes, especially to get the depth perception benefits of binocular vision.

    I subscribe to the view that humans generally feel a greater sense of 'connection' or 'engagement' with photographic subjects (of any species) if they feel the subject is looking at them (see my comments in pane #315). Obviously, this corresponds to the situation in which the subject was looking 'down the barrel' of the lens when the photograph was taken.

    For the Hummingbird shots, I think the greatest 'eye contact' is in A, followed by B, followed by C. In other words, despite the bird turning its head more towards the viewer (photographer) as you go from A to C, this is actually because the bird is interested in something above the photographer's right shoulder, rather than the photographer himself.

    If these were my images, I would therefore be in the (usual) situation of having to balance a decision on conflicting qualities, e.g. best eye angle in A, best head angle in B and best gorget lighting in C.

    The choice - if you have to choose just one - depends on your personal priorities. If you're trying to sell images to illustrate a field guide, go with A; if you're producing colourful decorative art, go with C.

    I'm not driven by the need to sell images, so I'm free to makes choices in line with my personal 'photographic mission', which is "To capture and convey the beauty, variety and lives of birds through high quality, aesthetically compelling images".

    On this basis, I would choose B. A is nice, but 2-dimensional and C lacks engagement and has a tree growing out of its head. B has a pleasing set of angles and overall shape, plus an interested-but-relaxed subject demeanour with good engagement.

    Knowing what you're trying to achieve helps with the difficult decisions!

    Mike.

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    I though I responded to this thread but see I did not. I have little to add at this late date. I would go with B given those three choices.

    /Jon
    Jon Saperia

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    A does it for me

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    A for me too. I have a preference, with wildlife, for natural images, if something is looking at me then it has spotted me and I am not part of its natural surroundings or behaviour. I would not delete any, just market them differently ;)

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    I am late to enter the game....

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    B for me, A is slightly away and C is too much of a turn.

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    Because I am trying to publish a bird guide (Blurb.com), using my own photos..I would choose A. The image show the entire head shape and color, bill size in relation to head. I probably would work on the bill a bit, though.

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    Assuming that you are talking about the images in Pane 1 and 2 I would agree. I need to get this thread up and running again soon.
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    Sorry forgot to include that....I was referring to pane #356, interesting thread.

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    I spent almost the entire day being educated on HA's and EA's and fixing pupils and what not - only to realize that this thread has died? Come on, guys! I wanna play too! :-)

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    Somewhere midway between A and B

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    Just checked out Peter's three hummer images. What a great bird by the way.

    A is too flat, in fact it almost appears to be angled ever so slightly away. I like B and C. I love straight-on heads (like C) because I like to think it's how they see each other when interacting directly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Hawrylyshyn View Post
    After having enjoyed reading this thread, i exchanged some emails with Artie about HA's when photographing hummingbirds. The attached photo shows three different HA's for the same copper-rumped hummingbird photographed last month in Trinidad. They were all taken at the same camera settings, have not had any "final processing" in PS and are only intended for discussion of their HA's. "A" is rotated a few degrees towards the viewer, "B" is at about 45 degrees to the viewer, and "C" is almost directly/90 degrees towards the viewer. Is there a preferred HA, which would you keep or delete?
    I am not sure if I responded to this one but here goes anyway: Iin A, I disagree with Peter as as I see it, the bird's head is angled about 1 degree away from the viewer. For me, this is an insta-delete for poor head angle. In B, the bird's head is turned about 8 degrees towards us. Please note that 8 degrees is a lot less than 45 degrees :). B is quite acceptable to me as it is far more pleasing than the head angle in A. In C I'd estimate that the bird's head is angled about 65 degrees towards us. Generally this head angle does not work real well for me--staring right down the lens barrel is usually a great head angle. But with hummingbirds the head angle in C is rather nice as the feathers of the gorget are illuminated very nicely, far better than in A or B.
    later and love, artie......... Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

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  34. #384
    BPN Member Tom Graham's Avatar
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    For this thread with 383 windows/replies, I'd appreciate it if the reply(s) give reference to the subject window number. In this case it is #356.
    (Or did I miss it somewhere in reply?)
    Tom

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Graham View Post
    For this thread with 383 windows/replies, I'd appreciate it if the reply(s) give reference to the subject window number. In this case it is #356.
    (Or did I miss it somewhere in reply?) Tom
    Hi Tom, 356 it is.
    later and love, artie......... Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    BIRDS AS ART Blog: great info and lessons, lots of images with our legendary BAA educational Captions.
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  36. #386
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    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Great-Egret-_Y5O8689--Gatorland,-Kissimmee,-FL.jpg  

    Click here for a lesson on good and bad head angles and related bill angle issues for tight head shots of wading birds...

    When you are done, let us know which of these two you prefer. Image A here. Or image B in the next pane.
    later and love, artie......... Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    BIRDS AS ART Blog: great info and lessons, lots of images with our legendary BAA educational Captions.
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  37. #387
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    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Great-Egret-faded-breeding-plumage-in-rain-_Y5O8709--Gatorland,-Kissimmee,-FL.jpg  

    Image B.
    later and love, artie......... Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    BIRDS AS ART Blog: great info and lessons, lots of images with our legendary BAA educational Captions.
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  38. #388
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    Hi Artie. I am torn on this one (panels 386/387). I like the slight head tilt in my direction on 386, but you lose sharp focus on the beak due to the very shallow DOF at that range. I think that kills it and I go with 387 (image B).
    Last edited by Ian Cassell; 05-07-2014 at 08:12 PM.

  39. #389
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    That's the point of the blog post :). And the two images here....
    later and love, artie......... Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    BIRDS AS ART Blog: great info and lessons, lots of images with our legendary BAA educational Captions.
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  40. #390
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur Morris View Post
    That's the point of the blog post :). And the two images here....
    I guess I'm not too old to learn

  41. #391
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    "B" (387) for me.... What a difference. The OOF "A" bill is distracting. I also like seeing the "true" length of this bird's bill in "B".
    Excellent blog Artie. (and I did choose prior to visiting the blog!) Love coming back and reviewing this thread periodically. (I have even gotten my husband, who is strictly a P/S pic-taker, to be alert to HA.) Thanks!
    www.mibirdingnetwork.com .... A place for bird and nature lovers in the Great Lakes area.

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    YAW Sandy!
    later and love, artie......... Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    BIRDS AS ART Blog: great info and lessons, lots of images with our legendary BAA educational Captions.
    BIRDS AS ART Online Store: we will not sell you junk. 30+ years of long lens experience/e-mail with gear questions.
    BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tours: we cost more because you get more and learn more.






  43. Thanks Sandy Witvoet thanked for this post
  44. #393
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    As always, ROCKIN' images and education, Artie!
    www.mibirdingnetwork.com .... A place for bird and nature lovers in the Great Lakes area.

  45. Thanks Arthur Morris thanked for this post

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