Content of a Bird Photograph

Content’s Five Components

The Quality Self-Assessment Rubric (QSAR) for Bird Photographs is designed as an aid for bird photographers to take better photographs.  The first Component of the QSAR is Technical Quality and can be accessed using the QSAR menu above.  The second Image Characteristic is Content and is presented below (it is recommended you download the rubric to use as a guide from the QSAR Menu item above).

Technical Quality is the most important Image Characteristic but Content comes in a close second because it defines what the viewer sees and focus on in the photograph.   Content includes five Components – Cropping is first or you can jump to any of them by clicking below:

Head Position
Body Visibility

6. Cropping

Post-processing cropping removes space around the bird – as a result the bird is enlarged within the frame.  I rarely get close enough to a bird so that the space it occupies within the frame is big enough.  When cropping I usually adjust the relative position of the bird to the other elements in the image, which we’ll discuss in the Composition section.  Let’s go through each Level of Quality for Cropping with some example pics and see which of the Four Types of Bird Photograph each result in.

The bird is within the frame but takes up too much or too little space = Documenting Shot or Good Bird Photo

I crop 99.9% of my bird pictures.  If I didn’t the birds would look too small.  Below is a picture of a Ruby-throated Hummingbird which looks pretty good but it is too small within the frame: the bird gets lost among the leaves!  A Good Bird Photo. 


On the other extreme, cropping too much takes away from the image.  I like to leave some space between the edge of the frame and the parts of the bird.  This lets the viewer focus in on the bird easily.  Here’s our same hummer with a crop that gives too little space above the head and beneath the tail.


Here’s an extreme crop example – Birding Buddy Jayne told us about a rare (for our area) White-faced Ibis.  The bird was about 200 yards away and even with my zoom lens fully extended (400mm) the bird was very small (right in the center of the first image).  Below the uncropped version is my final cropped image.  Note that by applying the extreme crop a lot of detail is lost.  In these cases even if the bird the right size within the frame, the loss of detail greatly reduces the quality of the photograph.


Parts of the bird are inadvertently cropped out of the frame = Documenting Shot or Good Bird Photo

One of my pet peeves about some bird photographs is when parts of the bird are inadvertently cut off during cropping.  It’s usually the tail or the feet that get chopped off and it makes the image look incomplete.  When this happens the image’s quality would result in a Documenting Shot or Good Bird Photo.

The image below wasn’t cropped very well.  The bird is too small in the frame – and the tail is cut off.  A Documenting Shot at best.


Look at the two Wood Duck photographs below.  Both come from the same image but cropped a little differently.  In the first one the tail of the duck and the head of the reflection were inadvertently cropped out.  The second is cropped so that both of these elements are within the frame.  The first one is a Good Bird Photo and the second one is a GreatBirdPic.  A tiny change, but a careless crop affected the quality of the photograph.


As this Level of Quality indicates, the inadvertent crop reduces the final quality of a photograph.  After cropping always check that the entire bird is within the frame and there is some space between the edge and bird.

The other side of that coin is that a photographer may intentionally decide to crop out part of the bird – this intentional act is done to improve the final outcome.  Perhaps the tail is partially obscured and doesn’t add to the overall image, or the photographer wants a closeup and carefully chooses how much to include in the frame.

Here are another couple of Wood Duck pics.  The first one includes the entire bird and is a pretty good photograph – a GreatBirdPic.


However after studying it I decided to crop it down to just the head.  There are a lot of colors there, the eyes pop out more, and the crop wasn’t so extreme that I lost much detail.  I think the outcome is better – perhaps not an Award Worthy pic, but more interesting than the original.


Emil Baumbach is one of the best bird photographers on – many of his pics are Award Worthy.  Below is his picture of a Cooper’s Hawk and the bottom of the tail is cropped out.  As you can see there is some foliage obscuring the tail so he may have decided to leave it out.  A good choice as the resulting image is nicely balanced and framed by the reddish limbs.

The space the bird occupies is in balance with the rest of the image = Documenting Shot, Good Bird Photo or GreatBirdPic

Cropping during post-processing not only enlarges the size of the bird but it also allows the photographer to strategically position the bird within the cropped frame.  As already seen above even after cropping, the bird still could be too small or too large for the frame – we want the size of the bird to be “just right.”   After cropping, step back and look at what the new frame includes; the bird is in there of course, but other elements may also be vying for the viewer’s attention.  Slight cropping adjustments can help bring the viewer’s focus to the bird and away from those other elements.

As been previously mentioned, even when you crop your image appropriately the final quality of your picture depends on other Components such as Focus, Exposure, and Lighting.

Here is an appropriately cropped photograph of a Black-crowned Night-Heron, but the bird is so obscured by the foliage the quality is no better than Documenting Shot.


The Fox Sparrow’s size below is about right and the head is in focus but the lower half of its body is obscured.  This would fall in the Good Bird Photo category.


Returning to our Ruby-throated Hummingbird from above here is a crop that is “just right”.   A GreatBirdPic if I ever saw one.


The space allocated to the bird and other elements helps tell a story = Award Worthy

When an Award Worthy bird photograph is being cropped, the photographer takes more than just the bird into account.  They look at the entire scene and decide what should and should not be included in the final frame.  Sometimes just omitting the tip of a nearby leaf or including a ripple in the water helps elevate the quality of the final product.

You know I love reflections, so when I was working on this next pic I could have cropped it down to just the Greater Yellowlegs but by expanding my view beyond the bird I was able to envision an Award Worthy photograph.


In the final example of the power of cropping, it would have been easy to crop this next picture down to just the Common Yellowthroat – there’s lots of detail and color as it perches between the two stalks.  A GreatBirdPic.  What the viewer doesn’t see are the yellow flowers atop the stalks.  By expanding the crop to include the flowers the bird does become smaller but the quality of the photograph increases to Award Worthy.  The larger frame helps tell the story of where the bird is and the flowers compliment the yellow in the bird.



In conclusion, cropping is an art.  By including or excluding part of a photograph the quality of the final product can be degraded or elevated.  Our next QSAR Component is Composition, which goes hand-in-hand with Cropping.

Composition Counts

In this section we define and illustrate Component 7. Composition of the QSAR.

7. Composition

Cropping removes space around the bird, but more importantly, it also gives the photographer the opportunity to include or exclude elements within the frame and to place the bird in a position where it is most prominently displayed – creating a composition.  Let’s go through each Level of Quality for Composition with some example pics and see which of the Four Types of Bird Photograph each result in.

The composition contains elements that distract = Documenting Shot or Good Bird Photo

Let’s face it, unless it is a BIF (Bird in Flight) shot, things can obscure parts of the bird.  Branches, leaves, other birds, and swells of water can and will get in the way.  Other times there are objects within the frame that compete with the bird for the viewer’s attention.  Anything that distracts the viewer away from the bird reduces the quality of the photograph.  During the cropping process it may be possible to minimize some distractions; if not, another image within the series might work better.

Our first example shows the power of a slight crop to eliminate a distracting element.  The first photograph of this Winter Wren has a stalk along the left side of the photograph; it is out of focus and takes our attention away from the bird.  The picture below it has been cropped just enough to eliminate the stalk so we can focus on the Wren.  The first picture would be judged to be a Good Bird Photo and the cropped shot a GreatBirdPic.


Our next example is of a female Orchard Oriole on a stalk of Echanacea (Cone Flower).  Nice pic but that blade of grass right across the bird – the bill and head in particular – reduces the overall quality of the pic to a Good Bird Shot.  No amount of cropping can eliminate this distraction.


Here’s a pretty little Pine Warbler – sitting atop a huge limb!  The limb is so big it distracts our attention away from the bird.  The bird is small within the frame yielding a Good Bird Shot quality bird photograph.


Sometimes you just have to be patient and wait until the bird is in a less obscured view – select a photograph in the series that contains less distracting elements.  Some Yellow-headed Blackbirds were perched in the reeds.  I took lots of pics in an attempt to get one that didn’t have anything obscuring the bird.  The first pic below is representative of some of the obscured images and below it one in which the bird is less obscured (note the head in particular is not obscured).


Here’s another example of waiting for the bird to clear a distraction.  This rare (for our area) Ruff was walking on the opposite bank and was right in front of a white plastic bag  – very distracting.  After a few moments the Ruff walked on to allow me to get a better picture.

When birds are perched in a tree I often look at it through my binoculars (I get a better view of the bird than through the camera’s viewfinder) before shooting to see if there are any branches obscuring the bird.  If so, I change my position and recheck with the binoculars to see if the new approach angle has fewer obstructions.  Look at the two photographs of the Bald Eagle below.  The first one has some branches running across the body and into the head.  By shifting my position a few yards to the side I was able to get an angle that didn’t include the branches.  The change in quality is minimal (still a Good Bird Photo) but still an improvement.


The composition draws your eye to specific part of the bird or action. = GreatBirdPic

When cropping (I use Ligthroom) I pay particular attention to the Rule of Thirds.  Below is a screen shot of a Northern Parula while I was cropping the photograph.

You’ll notice two vertical white lines divide the image into three vertical strips, and two horizontal white lines divide the image into three horizontal strips. The Rule of Thirds states that a viewer’s eye is drawn along those vertical and horizontal lines and especially to the four nexus points where the vertical and horizontal lines meet around the center.   I use these lines every time I crop a picture to line up the bird where it is most prominent.  If you would like to learn more about the Rule of Thirds you can go to this excellent article by “Nature Photography Simplified” entitled Rule of Thirds for Bird Photography.

When cropping the photograph above, I had lots of choices.  Look at the cropped photographs below; the first one is centered on the bird, the second one places the bird on the left, the third one places the bird on the right.  Which one do you think works the best?


I like them all, but I like the last one the best because the leaves on the left balance the bird on the right.  The second one (bird to the left) is balanced with out of focus leaves, which is less interesting.

Let’s take a look now at an action shot.  Below is a Common Goldeneye kicking up a storm to attract a mate.  The first photograph used the default 4X6 aspect ratio.  Note that you can see the kick and some spray.  Below that is the same photograph but with the horizontal crop widened so all of the splashing water is revealed – a much more interesting photograph.


Take a look at the pair of Ostriches below.  The first picture gives us a pretty good view of the birds.  The wider shot includes the huge Baobab tree, and now the viewer knows were are on the savannahin Africa .  The large tree does not distract but gives context to where the shot was taken.


Here’s one more set of photographs to illustrate the power of the crop in to improve the Composition.  The first image of the Common Merganser has the bird centered.  A pretty good pic, but by shifting the bird to the left it gives the viewer the illusion that the bird is flying into the open space.  A tiny change but it presents more of a sense of action in the composition.


One more example of how to draw your viewer’s attention to the bird uses the background to help frame the bird.  Oftentimes when the bird is perched the sky is the background, like in this picture of a Dickcissel below:


The bird is interesting but the background sky is blah.  It provides no context to where it is and it makes the whole photograph duller.  By shifting my position a few feet I was able to bring the distant trees into view for the background.  It’s almost the same shot, but with the interesting background the entire picture is warmer and easier to look at.   Both pictures are good; the second one is a better composition.


The photograph’s composition helps tell a story = Award Worthy

As seen in the Common Goldeneye and Ostrich examples above, sometime widening the crop to include what’s around the bird can help tell a story about where the bird is and what it’s doing.  When the viewer looks at a photograph and comes away with a sense of the narrative the bird is a part of, it could be an Award Worthy shot.  

Returning to our Common Yellowthroat, the first picture below is uncropped.  By carefully applying the Rule of Thirds while cropping and noting that the shape of the flower resembles a cup holding the bird, the second photograph is brought into the Award Worthy category.


Here’s our Semipalmated Sandpiper again but this time look at it from a Composition point of view. The bird is nice and sharp and we can even see its webbed feet.  What we also see is the green seaweed clinging to the rocks and the splash of Lake Michigan coming up from below.  The photograph gives us the opportunity to create a narrative of what the bird is experiencing.


In conclusion, cropping defines what is included inside the frame but positioning the bird and other elements within the frame is the art of composition.  I spend much of my time during post-processing cropping each picture to reveal the bird in the best position.  By including or excluding part of a photograph the quality of the final product can be degraded or elevated.

The Angle of the Bird’s Head Makes A Difference in the Final Quality of a Bird Photograph

8. Head Position

When Image Quality Components such as Focus, Composition, and Lighting are good the head (particularly the eyes) of the bird is usually the most important part of a bird photograph when determining its overall quality.  The head often contains important Field Marks which help identify the bird and can give the bird in the photograph some “personality’ rather than capturing an inanimate object.  However, just including the head in a photograph is not sufficient to yield a high-quality image – the angle at which the head is captured becomes very important.  Here is the Head Postion Component from the QSAR:

As you can see this is an “either/or” Component.  Either you captured the bird’s head at a complimentary angle or you didn’t.   Let’s go through the two Levels of Quality for Head Position with some example pics of the Four Types of Bird Photograph..

The head is not facing the camera = Documenting Shot or Good Bird Photo

When we capture an image of a bird in which the bird’s head is turned away from the camera the resulting photograph does not engage the viewer.  Depending on how much the head is turned away the end quality of the photograph will be a Documenting Shot or Good Bird Photo at best.  A few examples will illustrate this point.

I love BIF (Bird in Flight) shots but sometimes I am slow at raising my camera and hitting the shutter button; the bird has already flown past me by the time I start taking pictures and the resulting angle of the head usually shows it from behind.  The viewer sees the bird moving away which lowers the amount of interest in and detail of the bird.  Here is an example of a Great Egret as it flew past me.  A Good Bird Shot at best.


Now compare the next Great Egret photograph to the one above.  You feel the bird flying toward you, generating interest.


When a bird is perched high in a tree, even if the head is facing our direction, it is rare that the bird would be photographed looking down at the camera.  Usually when we capture the bird from below we are looking up at the bottom of its beak and head.  Again, this upward angle does not engage the viewer, in fact it gives the impression that the bird was farther away that it actually was.  Our first example below is of a Pine Warbler high up in a tree, then below it a Tropical Kingbird, then a Lineated Woodpecker.  All would be considered Good Bird Shots at best due to the upward angle.


Even when you are at about the same height as the bird, the bird’s head could be facing away from the camera.  While this may show some detail on the back of the head, the viewer is usually more interested in the face of the bird and this angle can obscure some Field Marks, resulting in a Good Bird Shot quality photograph.  A Robin presented itself from behind with its head turned away from the camera – not a very interesting photograph.


Here’s a Wood Duck from behind, which makes it look like it is fleeing; this reduces the visibility of its beautiful head.


The last photograph to illustrate the reduced amount of interest generated when a bird’s head is turned away shows a Brown Creeper going up a tree.  Even though we see most of the bird from the side the head is turned away – we can barely see the eye, making it a rather uninteresting bird photograph.

The head is facing the camera = GreatBirdPic or Award Worthy

When the bird’s head is facing the camera we increase the quality of our photograph, but other Components such as Focus, Composition, and Lighting ultimately determine what the final quality of the bird photograph is.  A key element of the head position are the eyes.  The more prominently the eyes are displayed, the more interest the photograph garners, thereby increasing its quality.  Let’s take a look at some examples of how the head affects the overall quality of the final product using mostly GreatBirdPic quality photographs (some Documenting Shot and Good Bird Photos have the bird’s head facing the camera but achieve those low marks in quality due to other factors such as poor Focus, Composition or Lighting.)

Take a look at the following two photographs of an Eastern Phoebe.  The first one shows the head turned away from the camera and the second one captured the head when it was turned perpendicular to the camera.  Just a slight change in the angle of the head made the second one more interesting – more of the head is visible so it engages the viewer more.


Our next example is of a Great Blue Heron with its head turned perpendicular to the camera.  We get a nice view of all its features and Field Marks and with the eye facing the camera the viewer becomes more engaged with the picture.  Had the head been turned any farther away from the camera the resulting photograph would have been judged lower but as it is, a GreatBirdPic.


As the angle of the head is reduced from 90º (perpendicular to the camera) to about 30º we get excellent looks at all the features on the bird’s head; often with good looks of the bird’s eye, too.  First we see a female Red-winged Blackbird with some food for her nest, her head at about 45°.


Similarly we see a Field Sparrow with a juicy worm, its head cocked at just the right angle (about 45°) to show off the Field Marks on its head.


This Goldfinch is leaning at just the right angle to have the sun shine along the side of its head, providing a full view.


This Wilson’s Snipe has its head at a 60° angle, presenting its long beak at a good angle to appreciate the length of it and giving us a great look at the eye.


As the angle of the head continues to move toward the camera from about 30º to 0º (facing straight at the camera) we begin to lose some of the detail in the head and eyes.  We can still get a pretty good shot, but the head looks narrower the smaller the angle, as demonstrated in these two Great Blue Heron Pictures.  As the angle decreases, the amount of the head seen also decreases.


Next is a Hermit Thrush looking toward the camera, perhaps 20° off straight-on.  Not a bad shot but we lose some of the definition in the head at this angle.


I used to think that when the bird was looking right at the camera (0º angle) I would get some great shots, but in fact I was often disappointed in the result.  When the bird is looking straight into the camera we lose almost all the detail of the beak and much of the detail on the sides of the head and neck.  Some birds look so different from this angle you can hardly recognize them!  Take this Gray Kingbird photographed in Aruba; the first photograph is straight-on and we hardly get any detail in its beak or face, yet a second later the bird turned its head giving us a much better look at its Field Marks (particularly the size of its beak).


Here is a Palm Warbler looking right at the camera.  Again we lose some of the detail in the head from this angle.


Next are two pictures of a Blue Whistling-Thrush in Thailand.  The first is straight-on but compare the beak and the eyes to the next one in which the bird tilted its head away from the camera, giving a much better look at its eyes and head.


I stated above that straight-on photographs “usually” disappointed me.  This is not always the case – the eyes on this Black-crowned Night-Heron show as red bulges at sunset, certainly adding interest to the photograph.  Below that a Eastern Meadowlark’s eyes and throat are prominently displayed.


Speaking of the eyes, when the angle of the head aligns just right with the sun a photograph can show a “catchlight” in the bird’s eye.  The catchlight is a bright pinpoint of white light on the eye showing the reflection of the sun.  I always get excited when one of my bird photographs includes a catchlight – it brings the bird alive for the viewer and increases the quality of the shot.  The catchlight looks to me like a spark of life inside the bird shining through.  Some photographers, when they have a GreatBirdPic quality photograph and want to increase the quality, will “add” a catchlight to the eye during post-processing (I have no strong opinion about this either way and have done it myself once or twice but I wouldn’t want to submit a photograph with an added catchlight to a bird photography contest).

Below are two photographs of an Eastern Kingbird; the first one the head angle does not produce a catchlight and the second does.


Here’s another pair of photographs to compare.  The first pic of the Robin did not include a catchlight and after the bird turned its head a bit more, we can see it.


I rarely get a catchlight in a BIF photograph so I was excited when I caught this Red-tailed Hawk with one.


Our final example is of a female Vermilion Flycatcher at dawn with a great catchlight.  Although I haven’t researched this, I’ll bet you are more likely to get a catchlight at sunrise or sunset because of the low angle of the sun.


If you’re like me, when the opportunity presents itself, I take lots of shots of a bird and then carefully review the images and select the ones with the most advantageous head angle (usually between 90° and 30°).  There are lots of factors that determine the final quality of a bird photograph but if you hold all those other factors constant, the head helps to elevate the quality of your photograph.


9. Body Visibility

Because of all the objects that can obscure their bodies, the quality of a bird photograph often depends on how much of the bird the photographer has captured.  Like the previous Component Head PositionBody Visibility has just two Levels of Quality.


Let’s go through each Level of Quality for Body Visibility with some example photographs from each of the Four Types of Bird Photograph.

Parts of the head and/or body are obscured = Documenting Shot or Good Bird Photo

We start with the most obvious point – if a bird’s body or head is obscured the quality of the final photograph will be low.  Below is a Mountain Imperial Pigeon taken in Thailand.  The shot from below reduces visibility of the head and the large branch it sits on obscures much of the bird.  A Documenting Shot quality pic.

Next is a Louisiana Waterthrush from behind.  The body of the bird is actually obstructing the head.  A Good Bird Photo quality photograph.


At times birds hide in the foliage of a bush or tree, only to pop out their head for a peek.  When most of the bird’s body is hidden it usually results in a Good Bird Photo quality photograph like the Mourning Dove below.  We clearly see the head but little else.


In the photograph of the Yellow Warbler below the head pops up but much of the lower body is covered in leaves.  Not a bad photograph but the quality is reduced to Good Bird Photo because of the amount of the body obscured.


As previously stated the head of the bird is the most important part of a bird photograph and if it is obscured the quality of the photograph suffers.  In our Tree Sparrow example below a branch crosses over its breast and head.  Although the overall picture is good, because the head is obscured the quality of this photograph would be deemed Good Bird Photo.

The bird is unobscured* = GreatBirdPic or Award Worthy

It is practically impossible to get a picture of a bird in which no part of it is obscured.  Even when perched, parts of its feet will be obscured.  If it is floating on the water the lower part of its body and feet are obscured.  When flying parts of the bird will be obscured by its own wings.  Recognizing this, bird photographs with very little of the bird obscured will rate higher (holding factors such as Focus, Lighting, and Composition constant).  Note the asterisk (*) here – this gives the bird photographer some “wiggle room” when creating their final image.  The photographer may select an image in which some of the bird is obscured, but the overall quality of the image may still be judged GreatBirdPic or Award Worthy.

Take the photograph of the Mourning Dove below.  Much of the body is obscured by the nest and surrounding twigs, yet the head and neck are in good focus, and the colors are engaging.  In fact, the twigs and nest help to frame the dove within the photograph.  All this yields a GreatBirdPic quality bird photograph.


Our final example shows a Snowy Egret passing behind a Roseate Spoonbill.  Some of the Snowy’s body is obscured and the Spoonbill’s feet are in the water.  Even though parts of the birds’ bodies are obscured the overall quality of this photograph would be judged Award Worthy because of beautiful composition.


In conclusion, our viewers want to see as much of the bird as possible.  When the body, particularly the head, is obscured the photograph’s quality will be judged lower and the more obscured, the lower the quality.


Where the Bird is Photographed Makes A Difference in Final Quality

10. Setting

The Setting is where the bird is photographed.  Usually we think of birds as being in the wild, but some bird photographs are taken where we live, work, and play.  I must admit up front that the quality rankings for Setting are rather subjective on my part.  I value a picture of a bird taken in the wild (particularly after a valiant search) more than one of the same bird sitting at a bird feeder in my back yard.  This is not to say that pictures of birds at bird feeders, or siting on a piece of rebar at a construction site can’t be beautiful, it’s just that I associate birds with the great outdoors; I rate bird photographs taken in a natural setting higher than those that include “the hand of man.”  Extending that thought, the setting of the photograph may show the bird in its habitat or how it fits within the environment – these photographs will rate higher.

Here is the Setting Component from the QSAR:

The four Levels of Quality shown reflect an increasing degree of naturalism in the setting of the bird; each are explained next with example photographs from the Four Types of Bird Photograph.

Level of Quality 1: The photograph of the bird was taken in a man-made environment = Documenting Shot

Although not refused, I discourage pictures of birds in captivity being posted on  Going down to the local zoo and snapping pictures of pink flamingos just isn’t the same as seeing them in wild.  Therefore, pictures of birds in captivity are given the lowest quality rating – Documenting Shot.

Level of Quality 2: The photograph was taken at a bird feeder = Documenting Shot or Good Bird Photo

At times I have eight feeders in my backyard (tube, platform, squirrel-resistant, suet, two thistle, hummingbird and oriole).  Once in a while I’ll take a picture of a bird at the feeders, like the Goldfinch and Indigo Bunting below at one of the thistle feeders.  Not bad but because of the setting I would rate the photograph as a Good Bird Photo.  I much prefer the the photographs below it of the same birds photographed in the wild (both rated GreatBirdPic).

Level of Quality 3: The photograph was taken in a natural setting = Good Bird Photo or GreatBirdPic

Moving out into the field where most bird photographs are taken, and controlling for Focus, Lighting, and Composition, most are rated Good Bird Photo or GreatBirdPic.  What’s the difference?  It depends on what is captured with the bird in the photograph.  Take the three Wood Duck photographs below.  The first one shows a Wood Duck swimming on the water with no other features. Ho, Hum – a Good Bird Photo. Then compare it to the following two photographs.  The first one showing the Wood Duck on a log vocalizing and the second one perched in a tree.  Each are much more interesting and show the bird in its natural setting and would be rated GreatBirdPic.


Even when the Focus, Lighting and Composition are good, the Setting does influence the final quality of the photograph.  Take the two Ruby-throated Hummingbird images below.  The first one is good, but due to the white background and lack of other interesting elements in the frame it would judged on the low end of the GoodBirdPic range.  Then take a look at the next one, where the female Ruby-throated Hummingbird is on its nest.  Again, good Focus and Composition, but this time the photograph would be rated on the upper end of the GoodBirdPic range because of the interest generated by the nest.


Level of Quality 4: The photograph illustrates the bird’s place in the environment = Award Worthy

Sometimes the photographer captures the bird immersed in the natural world around it.  We can see that it has good Focus, Lighting, and Composition and as we study the picture we see more than the bird.  The environment the bird is placed in enhances the overall quality of the photograph.  Below are a couple of bird photographs that not only show the bird well, but gives us a look at the world around them.  First is a Great Blue Heron in the fall in its typical habitat, then a Pine Siskin foraging for food in the thistle.


The Setting Component of the Content Image Characteristic is somewhat subjective.  You can get a great picture of a bird at your backyard bird feeder but in my eyes, the quality of that picture suffers because of its unnatural setting.  To me, half the fun of getting a great bird photograph is tracking it down in the wild and capturing a great image of the bird.  When we are able to capture that image when the bird is surrounded by its natural habitat, the quality of the photograph is rated even higher.

This concludes the the review of the five Components of the Content Image Characteristic.  Next we begin exploring the three Components of Artistic Quality, where we continue to apply some subjective attributes to the quality of our bird photographs.  You can access Artistic Quality (and the other Components) by pulling down the QSAR menu above.