View Full Version : Head Angle Police (HAP) Tutorial?

Richard Kowalski
02-07-2008, 10:23 AM
Hello all, no image for this one, and the post is partly tongue-in-cheek, but it is somewhat serious.

Many of the more accomplished bird photographers posting on this site often get critiques like "Almost perfect except for the head angle." I fully understand that head angle to the plane of the sensor & the lighting is important, but
I've been a little confused by just what is the "right angle". I've seen posts where a moderator has said the angle would be better one way and in another post another moderator (or just accomplished members) the exact same pose is critiqued for not having the right angle. It seems like often we are talking about a few degrees of rotation.

I think it would be great if some or a few people could post examples of the same bird at the same location and show exactly what a good head angle is and one that is slightly different, so we can see WHY the poorer one is a poor head angle.

The more tongue-in-cheek part of this is, how do you get the bird to pose with the correct head angle? When I have a cooperative model, one that provides me with perfect lighting, lets be move around and/or closer to get better foregrounds and backgrounds, and waits as long as I need to make multiple images of it before it flies off, I say "Thank you" out loud, appreciating the time and opportunity the bird afforded me.

What are you experienced portraitists saying to your models to get the right head angle when everything else has fallen into place?



Jim Poor
02-07-2008, 10:37 AM
I'm not going to touch the which angle is the right angle part, but will defiantly tune in to hear the answers.

As to how to get that angle; a squeak, pish, click, or some other sound often gets a look to investigate the source.

Richard Kowalski
02-07-2008, 10:42 AM
Agreed Jim. I do pish if the bird isn't responding and sometimes I get the bird to look at me momentarily. I even rarely press the shutter during the split second it does. It seems that the HAP complain when the bird has a nearly profile
pose, but is off in one direction or the other. Obviously looking away is wrong, but I'm still trying to figure out how much rotation towards the photographer away from perpendicular is "Just right". That's why I've requested side by side examples of right/wrong head angles of the same bird.


Blake Shadle
02-07-2008, 12:20 PM
I'll try to get some images together for you. You might say that I'm an officer of the HAP :) In my opinion, the eye is the center of emotional connection in photography. Without good eye contact it's very difficult to create an emotional connection between your subject and your audience. If your audience feels an emotional connection with your subject, you've created impact, you've evoked emotion from the image you've created. All of this is very important to me.

The majority of my work is based on a low shooting angle, and creating emotion. When I'm looking at an image, I like to feel that I'm an important part of it. You need a good head angle, and eye contact to do this. The low shooting angle adds to the sense of place, and environment (like you're there with the subject). Typically, I don't care for any angle away from the image plane, as a viewer, it feels distant, uninviting... but there are times when it works. I'm not a huge fan of dead-on plane either (I do like it, and it can be very beautiful for portraits, but it's not my favorite). I love an angle slightly toward the image plane (depending on your light angle, shadows, etc)... It gives me the greatest sense of emotion.

To get your subject to give you a little time, squeek at 'em :) But you have to keep your eye in the viewfinder and finger half down on the shutter. It may be for just a moment, but that moment could be all you need to create a magical image.


Arthur Morris
02-07-2008, 01:08 PM
I am El Capitano of the HAP as well as the founder. I am pretty sure that I coined the phrase as it it used commonly now in bird photography.

First off I offer the two excerpts below from The Art of Bird Photography II (916 pages on CD only).

The first is an introductory paragraph from the Advanced Composition and Image Design Chapter.

Understanding Light-Angle, Subject-to-Film Plane Orientation, and Head-Angle

The failure to understand the importance of how light-angle and head-angle relate to both subject-to-imaging sensor or film plane orientation and to the quality of the final image ruins more bird photographs than all other artistic and design factors combined. The major flaws in at least three-quarters of the images of birds presented during BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour critiquing sessions involve either improper light angle or improper head-angle (or both). As you approach a bird or a flock of birds, your primary consideration in nearly all cases will be light-angle, so that is where we shall begin.

Skipping ahead:


Understanding the importance of the angle of the bird’s head relative to both the light-angle and the imaging sensor or film plane are critical considerations if one wishes to create powerful, appealing images on a consistent basis. Images of birds facing slightly or well away from the camera are rarely successful. Ideally, when the subject is roughly parallel to the film plane, the bird’s head should be parallel to the film plane, or—better yet in most cases—just a bit inside of parallel, that is, turned two or three degrees towards the imaging sensor or the film plane. Assuming a perfect light-angle, I actually prefer the latter for several reasons. With the subject’s head turned slightly towards the film plane, the tip of the bill will generally be on the same plane as the eye, so even when you are working at wide open apertures the image will appear sharper overall than an image in which the bird’s head is precisely parallel to the film plane. Furthermore, when the bird’s head is cocked slightly towards you and the sun is directly behind you, the face will be illuminated immaculately and the image will almost always feature a catch-light in the eye.

With birds facing to some degree towards the camera, it is usually best to make the photograph either when the bird is looking directly at the camera or when its head is aligned naturally with its body. When a bird’s head is parallel to the film plane and its body is angled towards the film plane the results usually look at least a bit unnatural. When the body is angled partially or totally away from the film plane, it is—as noted above—almost imperative that the bird’s head be parallel to the film plane. At times, it is possible to get a bird to turn its head towards you by making a sharp raspy “queek” sound (though this may scare the subject away). Often it’s best to simply wait (and pray) for the bird to turn its head, as birds as a rule are constantly looking around to check for predators.

As far as moderators disagreeing with one another that is both the nature of the beast and--as I mentioned in my introductory letter to the group--to be expected. And yes, a very few degrees can make a huge difference. Take a superb image of a a great bird, sharp with wonderful light and a soft, oof background. If the bird's head is turned as little as one degree away from me, the image will be disappointing; most times I will consider it as a complete failure. I can remember dozens of times when I have begged a bird to give up a head angle only to have it fly away without ever looking back at me... If the bird's head is parallel to the imaging sensor, or turned a degree or three towards me, I will usually be thrilled. And if the bird in a posted image has it's head turned away as little as one degree, I will point that out. Some might consider commenting on a single degree nit-picking; I view it as an attempt to help folks improve their bird photography.

As far as the degree of head turn, that is of course personal and subjective. As above, if the bird is parallel to the imaging sensor, my great preference is for the bird's head to be angled two or three degrees towards me. At times, the best head angle is when the bird is looking right down the lens barrel. In various situations I might prefer just about any head angle...

The next time that I am out I shall save a few examples to post.

later and love, artie

Grace Scalzo
02-07-2008, 01:40 PM
Great thread. Thanks for the thoughtful answers.

Fabs Forns
02-07-2008, 07:08 PM
Excellent thread, Richard. Thanks for bringing it up!

Jan Wegener
02-09-2008, 08:09 PM
I think I also have a good example for this case. The two shots were just made a few seconds after each other.
I have to agree with Artie that the right head turn is one of the most important things in bird photography....I have so many fantastic shots, where everything looked perfect in the field and at home you see.....d.... the bird is looking slightly away.
It makes such a big difference if you "feel" the eye contact or if you see a bird looking somewhere else.

First shot, nice Bg everything, BUT.....
She's looking away

Jan Wegener
02-09-2008, 08:10 PM
and here a few seconds later, she gave me the head turn needed.... :)

Arthur Morris
02-10-2008, 06:11 AM
Hey Jan, Perfect teaching pair of images and lovely light and BKGR to boot. Thanks for your help.

and later and love, artie

ps: too bad that the water is bluer in the one with the poor head angle :(

Arthur Morris
02-10-2008, 10:24 AM
Inspired by Jan, I went down to the lake near home and created this one to show a bad head angle, about two degrees away from the plane of the imaging sensor. This one goes in the trash.

Arthur Morris
02-10-2008, 10:26 AM
Excellent head angle, about three degrees this side of parallel to the imaging sensor. With wind against sun conditions, the perfect head angle had the added benefit of blowing up the bird's crest.

later and love, artie

Jan Wegener
02-10-2008, 11:09 PM
maybe this would be a good "sticky" topic ?

Another example, Buffelhead, almost perfect, but looking away :( Not much missing, maybe 2 degrees...
I was really sad when I saw this pic on the big screen, on the backside of the cam it looked great....

Arthur Morris
02-11-2008, 06:20 AM
Hey Jan, You gotta love when that happens or else you cry...

This is the type of thread that I hope to be able to copy into the proposed Education Recources Forum...

later and love, artie

Jim Poor
02-11-2008, 08:10 AM
Very interesting observations.
Would you trash these photos with a just barely wrong head angle, or would you keep them for possible submissions as technical illustrations (for a birding ID guides, for example) where the "connection" with the subject is not so important?

Arthur Morris
02-11-2008, 09:10 AM
Hi Jim, If I have one with a decent head angle I will always delete the lousy ones; that's why I have had to go out and create new images for this tutorial. Just got back from the lake with some new Limpkin examples. If it is a rare bird or an otherwise amazingly beautiful image I might keep the best one but would never ever be in love with it.

later and love, artie

Robert Amoruso
02-11-2008, 10:39 AM
HAP... I like it and good examples to boot.

LAP is next I guess?

Blake Shadle
02-11-2008, 10:44 AM
This has really blossomed into one heck of a thread. Great instruction and examples from Jan and Artie. Thanks for the contributions guys. I agree, this is definitely a candidate for the upcoming Education Resources Forum.

Jim Poor
02-11-2008, 10:49 AM
Hi Jim, If I have one with a decent head angle I will always delete the lousy ones; that's why I have had to go out and create new images for this tutorial. Just got back from the lake with some new Limpkin examples. If it is a rare bird or an otherwise amazingly beautiful image I might keep the best one but would never ever be in love with it.

later and love, artie

Thanks. My image collection is steadily dwindling. Of course, that means it is getting refined, so that's a good thing.

Richard Kowalski
02-11-2008, 02:35 PM
Thanks everyone who has helped me out on this question, both here and in private emails. I once again read through Artie's Art of Bird Photography II, pages 177 - 183, about this topic last night while waiting for data to come down from the telescope. I am now seeing what constitutes proper head angle. Hopefully I won't be rounded up by the HAP any longer...

Dave Phillips
02-29-2008, 01:32 AM
thanks all, a most educational and inspiring thread

Sabyasachi Patra
02-29-2008, 02:24 AM
Good thread. I have one observation. I have seen photographers whistling, making rustling noise, squeaking, even praying for the subject to look at them, so that they get a nice pose. I don't have a problem if you pray to God in your own way. Any thing else, I consider unethical.

If you have knowledge about your subject, and if you have patience, you will have enough head angles.

03-07-2008, 07:37 AM
Good thread!

In the same time I agree with Sabyasachi - If you have knowledge about your subject, and if you have patience, you will have enough head angles.

Arthur Morris
03-14-2008, 08:18 AM
Good thread. I have one observation. I have seen photographers whistling, making rustling noise, squeaking, even praying for the subject to look at them, so that they get a nice pose. I don't have a problem if you pray to God in your own way. Any thing else, I consider unethical. If you have knowledge about your subject, and if you have patience, you will have enough head angles.

Hi Sabyasachi, Please confirm that your belief is that if someone squeaks at a bird in an effort to get the bird to turn its head towards them that you consider that unethical.

And then, please tell us how you go about observing and photographing tigers.

thanks and later and love, artie

Sabyasachi Patra
03-15-2008, 05:27 AM
Hi Artie, I have very strong views about disturbing wildlife. I have seen photographers whistle and scream to irritate the tiger and get a shot of it snarling. I dislike it and consider it unethical. I believe we should not disturb wildlife. We should always strive to showcase authentic behaviour.

As far as photographing tiger goes, it is your knowledge of tiger behaviour, ability to interpret signs and sounds made by the birds and animals, knowledge about the topography of the forest, and patience which helps. Once in a while you can be lucky in spotting a tiger, but not always. Please don't think that when I am photograhing the tiger, it is not aware of my presence. Tiger, and for that matter all wild animals have an uncanny ability to read our body language. If your movements are very slow, if you don't stare into the eyes of the tiger directly and if you wait, the tiger will slowly relax.

I have got the best shots when the tiger got accustomed to my presence. And, I have watched tiger from close quarters (as close as 10 feet) for hours togather. With every passing year, my knowledge of tiger behaviour is increasing and every year I have at least one experience where the tiger had surprised me by its intelligence.

I have a short article in my website ( I have recently uploaded my site and haven't put enough material yet) titled Spotting Wildlife: It must have been luck?? The link is as follows

I have learn't a lot from you, by reading your bulletins. I think in 2002 I stumbled upon your website and found your pedagogy amazing. I believe you would be having 30 or 40 years of bird knowledge. Your subject knowledge will help you in predicting how the bird will react and you will be ready to capture the shot. Whereas, another good photographer without knowledge of birds standing by your side, may miss the shot, as he won't be prepared.

I always remember the shots that I missed. Once, a tiger was walking near a mashy area. Suddenly, it jumped to cross a patch of mashy land. I had failed to anticipate it, so could not position my vehicle and missed the shot.

I used to consider myself as an expert in tiger behaviour till 2006, when the tiger (infact two tigers) demolished my ego on one moonless night. I along with my friend was sitting outside the forest rest house. It was in the middle of the jungle. Deers were grazing about 30-40 feet to my right. Infront of me was a stream. I could hear and make out that a tiger has come and is stalking the deer. The deer were coming closer to me thinking the tiger won't come near us. The tiger was moving and at times we could make out a hazy white blur moving, it was due to the white hair in the belly of the tiger. Suddenly, the tiger charged the deer towards my right. The tiger was about 25 feet away. Within 10seconds or so, I heard another charge in the opposite direction i.e. from the same spot infront of me the tiger charged to my left. Then I realised that there were two tigers instead of one. The next day morning, pugmarks confirmed that there were two tigers. And the two tigers were also calling each other from the hill behind the rest house. I feel the little bit of knowledge that I have about tiger behaviour helps me in my photography. However, Miles to go before I attain the level of excellence people like you have in photography

Arthur Morris
03-15-2008, 07:01 AM
Hi Again Sabyasachi, Do your friends call you Sabya? Thanks for getting back to me. And thanks for sharing your stories of the tigers. I did visit your web site, read much information with interest, and enjoyed the images. I hope that we can continue this discussion in the same friendly manner that we have done so far. Having been at this for nearly 25 years now, I am extremely sensitive to accusations of unethical field behavior and the harassment of wildlife. I routinely make spishing (as most birders do in an effort to get a bird to show itself) or clicking noises, and sometimes make a sharp "kih kih: sound (something like a duck) in an effort to get birds to turn their heads and have been teaching others to do the same. According to your original post, anything more than praying is unethical. It is here that I need to strongly disagree with you.

First off you state, "Please don't think that when I am photographing the tiger, it is not aware of my presence. Tiger, and for that matter all wild animals have an uncanny ability to read our body language. If your movements are very slow, if you don't stare into the eyes of the tiger directly and if you wait, the tiger will slowly relax." By your own admission your presence in a large vehicle in the jungle is stressful to the tiger, else the animals would not "slowly relax." Following your own line of reasoning tracking, stalking, and approaching tigers in a vehicle would have to be considered unethical. Further, how do you not "stare into the eyes of a tiger directly" when you are pointing a telephoto lens right at it?

You state that you have very strong views about disturbing wildlife, yet you regularly travel by van into the tigers' world to--by your own admission--stress the tigers. I do not view what you are doing as disturbing wildlife (like the loud tourists on busses that you write about), and I do not consider making a noise to have a bird turn towards you as either stressful to the bird or unethical behavior by the photographer. To me, your position is simply indefensible.

later and love, artie

ps: Screaming at a tiger to get it to snarl is as far over the line for me as it is for you, however do compare the impact of screaming at a tiger to the effects of civilization and habitat destruction which clearly have doomed the regal creature that has so captured your heart...

Sabyasachi Patra
03-17-2008, 07:55 AM
Ahhh....Solid left hook Artie!

I love this discussion. This is shaping up as a very interesting conversation and the tone and logic is compelling me to examine my beliefs and prejudices (if any). This is a far cry from the heated discussions that happen most of the times with each party sticking to their guns.

First of all, my premise of ethical vs unethical behaviour stems from my belief that we should not subject wildlife to stress. I believe a photograph is not more important than the well being of the subject. I also believe that all of us are intruders in the wild places. We should respect wildlife and allow them the space to go about their routine affairs. Having said that, we can examine what can be construed as ethical and unethical.

I am aware of people trying to imitate the calls of birds and animals. When I was a kid, I used to imitate the call of a cuckoo. The cuckoo used to respond angrily and progressively raise the pitch of its call. Finally, after a number of calls it used to end up with a high pitched coo. As a naughty boy, I used to enjoy it and used to boast that I could shut up the sweet calls of the cuckoo. That was some 28-30 years back. I know that lot of birds are inquisitive and try to come out to investigate when they hear a sound. Animals also do the same thing, some animals being more inquisitive than others. In India, hunters used to employ this technique. I had never employed this technique to bring out birds or animals from the bush to a better position for photographing. In January, I was touring Malaysia and in one of the locales I found a photographer using this technique to bring out a bird.
Let us think whether this impacts the subject:
• By doing this, are you harming the bird or animal?
• Are you causing stress to the bird or animal?
• Are you frightening the bird or animal?
• Are you changing the behaviour pattern of the bird or animal?
• When you photograph the bird by bringing it out of the bush or cluttered background, does the image depict authentic behaviour?
• I saw a photographer’s partner flushing out birds for him to shoot. Is it ethical?

I am wondering what will be going on the minds of the photographer who is waiting silently for a bird to come out, whereas another photographer is making some noise or in the extreme case literally breaking into a song and dance to entice the bird. You are an expert on birds and wildlife photography. I think it will be better to hear your perspective on what impacts the subject.

Photographing from a vehicle: Impact on wildlife
I have observed that normally animals and birds are not afraid of the vehicle. However, when they see a human being on foot, they run away. In some of the forests where poaching of wildlife is prevalent, they are wary of human presence and are likely to maintain a greater distance from your vehicle. In any case, if you are driving fast the wildlife is more likely to be disturbed than a slower approach. There is a fight to flight distance for the wild animals. The wildlife would maintain a minimum distance from people. They are likely to runaway when this distance is breached. Mostly, they flee towards deeper forests. If you happen to startle a wild animal by somehow managing to suddenly approach very close to them, and if they perceive you to be blocking their path, then you are most likely to be attacked. Most of the times, it is a mock charge. The intention is to scare you. Last year, I bumped into an elephant before dawn in a narrow winding road. It showed its irritation by trumpeting and then came charging towards me. I had to reverse for about 15-20 meters before the elephant decided that it was enough.

With adequate knowledge of animal behaviour, if you are careful, then you can move closer to animals. Most of the times the animals will accept your presence. They will peacefully go about their routine business allowing you to photograph to your hearts content. Knowledge of animal behaviour helps in understanding whether you are disturbing them or not. There have been number of occasions when the tiger has walked past my open vehicle, within touching distance without worrying about me. I don’t think I was disturbing the tiger at all. At times tourist vehicles try to block the path of the tiger. The first reaction of the tiger in those instances is to stop in its tracks and sit down behind a bush. It allows the vehicles to pass. The tourists get more time to photograph. At times, the tourists push their luck and are attacked. Once, a tourist from France, patted a tiger on its back (Old habits die hard!). It is needless to say that the tourist was severely mauled. He recovered after a painful six months of hospitalization. I am thoroughly against all such practices. And definitely I can't the back patting (bottom pinching) stuff. :D

In my initial years, I used to look directly into the eyes of the tiger, and after sometime the tiger used to turn its head to avoid eye contact. I had no idea that staring directly into the eyes of the tiger will be construed as aggressive behaviour. During my MBA education, our communications professor was always insisting on eye contact. I never knew I had to unlearn some of those training in the forests. :) Looking through the lens is not seen as aggressive behaviour. In fact you can easily hide behind your huge camera and lens.

Once, my friend and I were sitting on the banks of a narrow stream. I had my camera and tripod in front of me. On the opposite side of the stream was a hill and right opposite to us was a game trail, frequently used by wildlife to come to water. A group of deer, known as Cheetal (Axis axis) came down to the water. We were completely in the open. We could see the deer from a distance. I whispered to my friend to remain still. The deer came and stooped about 25 feet away from us on the other side of the bank. I had hidden my face behind the camera and lens. We didn’t move and were breathing softly. The deer leading the herd was looking at us intently with its tail erect and front leg raised. When the deer is alarmed it raises it tail and stamps its hoof on the ground to raise an alarm. I noticed that the deer were looking at her and not at me. After some time, I slowly moved my camera from horizontal to vertical position. This attracted the attention of the deer. However, they quickly shifted their gaze from me to her. She didn’t move at all but was looking directly into the eyes of the deer. That was making the deer nervous. The deers were moving couple of paces towards us and then retracing their steps. They knew something is not right but were fooled because we were not moving. This episode lasted for a good 20 minutes. Finally the deer took fright due to some movement from us and moved 20 meters downstream to drink water. It is evident from this episode, that if you look directly at animals through the lens, then they won’t be frightened. The direct eye contact is broken and the animal doesn’t feel threatened.

I agree that the burning problem before us is protection of the habitat. Habitat destruction is one of the primary reasons pushing wildlife towards extinction. We may debate to finetune our definitions about ethical approach to photography but we should not stand divided in our fight to protect Wildlife and Nature.

PS: I am called by lot of names. Saby, Sabya, Tiger etc etc. Sabyasachi is the name of our mythological hero Arjuna. He could shoot arrows using both his hands with equal ease.

Arthur Morris
03-18-2008, 04:33 AM
Hi Sabya, I appreciate your taking the time to answer in detail and wish that I had the time to address each of your points individually, but I do not have either the time or the inclination to do so. In brief, spishing or quacking (or paying a tipoe of a birds call or feeding it) to get a bird to do what you want certainly changes a bird's behavior but it is my belief that doing any of the above does not negatively affect the birds.

Lastly, you have changed your tune to fit your behavior. In a previous post, you stated that the tiger, a world endangered species, is (often) stressed when it sees a vehicle, but that if you remain still the tiger will relax. By virture of your questions above and your definition (not mine) of unethical harassment you are behaving unethically. You could write a book in defense of your position but again, your position is simply indefensible. Please do understand that I am not saying that you are behaving unethically, but that according to your principles and beliefs, you are indeed doing so.

later and love, artie

Sabyasachi Patra
03-19-2008, 06:12 AM
Hi Artie,
Thanks for your comments. I always believe that when a person points a finger, three fingers point back at him. So I always, try to examine my position. I think it is better that we agree to disagre on what is ethical vs unethical behaviour in photographing birds and animals.

PS: Just couple of months back, a friend of mine gifted me a copy of your Art of Bird Photography book. Enjoyed reading it. May be someday, I would love to write a bestseller like you. However, no plans to write a book on ethics. :-)

Sid Garige
03-20-2008, 12:22 AM

Question here is not is it ethical or unethical.

question here is not are we agreeing or disagreeing on ethical vs unethical.

question here is are we standing on what we say?

One thing I understood from my studies regarding animals in urban life is when they approach human beings is not because they fell safe around them.
They are in a state of confusion and they dont know if its a threat to them or not. Tiger watching people from a distance is different from an alligator watching people in florida. In first case there is a confusion and in second case there is a comfort that food might be on the way. It is evident from many researches that being in contact with urban life is not being in stable state. Its been proved in many cases. Polar bears in Churchill and moose in anchorage etc all this are examples of animals in close contact with humans but always aware of human presence in back of their mind.

One of the things I learned from Artie is his knowledge and commitment to work. When experience speaks it always better to listen to them.

I still remember my friend's words when I went to fort desoto for frist time to see Artie's workshop.
He said "He is Art Morris and you are god **** Sid. who do you think people will listen to?" and I believe he is always true.

W T Lloyd
03-21-2008, 09:34 AM
I am uncomfortable with the thought that it is possible to observe an animal in the wild and not have any impact whatsoever on it's behavior. This is a well know "observer effect" - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Observer_effect.
In addition, I would point out that humans are animals too, and we are part of the life experience interaction of the animals we observe. Don't be too quick to put yourself outside the worldview of the animal, who may not see you any different than some other predator or prey it encounters. Occasionally, news stories here in California regarding unfortunate interactions in our ever-expanding suburbs, indicate that the highly stressed Cougar can find human presence to be...an opportunity.

Lastly, I haven't seen anyone comment on what I find most obvious - animals, and especially birds in my experience, are very sensitive to having eyes pointed in their direction....I never look directly at birds when moving closer, and usually wait 10 or 20 seconds after repositioning before looking at them....but what else than a huge 5 or 6" eye is a supertelephoto lens?

I am very comfortable in my judgment regarding the boundary between gentle "phishing" and extreme behavior designed to startle and provoke wildlife.

Sid Garige
03-21-2008, 11:08 AM

You made a very good point here.

Humans are animals too.

I was never comfortable photographing wild animals in urban life. Always kept my options to escape if some thing goes wrong. I am very sure human presence in animal habitat make them feel the same way.


Arthur Morris
03-23-2008, 06:17 AM
W.T. I could not agree with you more on all counts. later and love, artie

Pat Nighswander
03-24-2008, 02:10 PM
http://usera.imagecave.com/division/IMGwcrop5381.jpgI agree the head angle and the light is all about the right moment... don't say smile .. say eye and angle heads please... group shot

Jeffrey Sipress
04-09-2008, 11:54 AM
Great thread here, thanks all, for the education.

As a landscaper/nature shooter, I am always aware of my impact on the area and the vegetation, as well. At the dozens of workshops, classes, and group shoots that I've participated in, the discussion of impact was brought up often. Many people were quite emotional about it. Should we move a branch? Will our steps trample vegetation or cause erosion? Is our presence simply going to mess things up?

I also see that the HAP is just like that of human portraiture photography. Position and light angle is crucial. But it seems OK to loudly bark commands at the model without any long-term negative effect. I would say that a finger snap or a short hoot to gain a moment of proper position for a bird is harmless. Just watch birds with your eyes for a while. They are constantly scanning with their eyes and ears and moving their heads.

Arthur Morris
04-10-2008, 04:28 AM
Before trying a finger snap it would usually be best to make some softer kissing noises with your lips lest you scare the bird away... Later and love, artie

Steve Canuel
04-16-2008, 09:57 PM
I think it should be noted that the animals that don't notice people/other critters and noises are few and far between. They've all been eaten by something else!

Arthur Morris
02-09-2009, 04:45 AM
TheTricolored Heron above was photographed moments apart at Fort DeSoto Park with the Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-50D. ISO 400. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/2000 sec. at f/7.1. Mongoose M3.5 atop the Gitzo 3530 LS.

Note that though the image below features a much nice look at the single breeding plume, the image above has a much better head angle with the bird’s head turned about 3 or 4 degrees towards me (2 degrees would have been perfect). In the image below, the bird’s head is turned about 1 degree away from me relegating it to the trash heap. Had the bird’s head in the image below been even parallel to the imaging sensor it would have been not only a keeper but a Family Jewel. Folks always need to be aware of the head angle when creating avian images

Ian McHenry
02-09-2009, 07:01 PM
This is an excellent thread.
Just wonder if this image has the bird showing too much interaction with the photographer (me) instead of being an observation of a bird in a natural setting at ease in its environment?
Ian Mc

Arthur Morris
02-09-2009, 07:30 PM
Birds are constantly moving their heads around, in large part to watch for danger, so no, for me, there is no indication that the bird is looking at or is involved in any way with me. The bird looks totally at ease in each image. When birds are not at ease they have an option that we do not: fly away....

Arthur Morris
04-07-2009, 04:51 AM
Check out more on head angle in the April 7th post on my blog here: http://www.birdsasart-blog.com/

Arthur Morris
01-12-2010, 09:01 AM
For another head angle lesson, check out the January 12, 2010 blog post here: http://www.birdsasart-blog.com/

Arthur Morris
06-22-2010, 09:04 AM
Loving what is not perfect is fine with me but that does not make an image with a poor head angle a good photograph :)