Jeri Conklin  


Bird Kell by Jeri Conklin

May 2020 - Bird Kell

About the Image(s)

Hi all,

I am sending a picture that I took with my camera Nikon D5300, sports mode, Nikon 70-300mm lens, during a training exercise with my dogs. The trainer flushes and shoots the bird and the dogs retrieve it. While some may find this picture offensive because of the subject matter, do you as a photographer, see the technical aspects of getting this picture, the feather puff at the exact time of the bullet hitting the bird? The bird was about 1,000 yards away when I took the shot (with camera, not weapon). Trust me timing was everything and I hand held my camera on this shot. I can't think of the word I want to use here, but does (the word) of getting this picture make it less offensive or not? Do you look at the picture and go WOW what it must have taken to get that picture, the exact timing? Or, do you just see the subject matter and discount the photographic techniques used? Thank you all, I appreciate your critiques as they make me a better photographer for sure.


20 comments posted

Bob Legg   Bob Legg
Hi Jeri. What an extraordinary moment you have captured. Great cropping considering you had no control over the background. Perfect shutter speed except you didn't give us those details and techniques used to get the image. Please give us more photo info and maybe the images before and after this one.   Posted: 05/05/2020 06:18:07
Jeri Conklin   Jeri Conklin
Bob, thank you for your kind words. I do have a 3 picture sequence I think, I'll find and post them later today. Yes, no control over the background. But our deserts are just that - sage brush everywhere. Again, thank you.
  Posted: 05/06/2020 08:12:37

Brian Swinyard   Brian Swinyard
(Group 21)
Jeri, I stand firmly in the 'Wow' corner and I congratulate you on your photographic prowess. My school of thought is and always has been that 'An image is an image is an image' and how it is produced is of secondary consideration. You have captured that 'Decisive Moment' perfectly and this is the stuff of photography. I don't have a problem with your picture although I can appreciate that some may take issue with the ethics of taking such an image. You have captured the 'Decisive Moment' perfectly and to be able to do it at 1,000 yard distance shows that you are a master of your craft. When I did my Masters Degree in Photography, one of my projects was to look at 'Moment of Death photographs in War Photography' using Combat Photographer Robert Capa as my centre of focus. You can imagine that I had similar issues to deal with as you have found with your picture. There is always a fine line to be walked for war photographers; a dichotomy between intruding into personal space with the emotion of what is happening before your eyes, and capturing it as a true record for future reference.
  Posted: 05/06/2020 01:55:19

Jeri Conklin   Jeri Conklin
Brian, thank you, your comments add an added dimension of thought to my images. So when you come upon that "Decisive moment" shot, do you take it and figure out what to do with it later, or walk away because you know it crossed the line? I was on an accident board in my earlier years and had the opportunity to take photos of the crash scene (military plane). There were the pictures I "had to take" for the accident board, then there were pictures I "wanted to take". Pictures that were outside the horror of the crash, rather the beauty of the scene itself - if that makes sense. I walked away but have always wished I had taken them because there is a beautifulness, a serenity, a peacefulness that shines even in death. Again, thank you.   Posted: 05/06/2020 08:10:05
Brian Swinyard   Brian Swinyard
(Group 21)
Jeri, Thank you for your kind words which are very much appreciated. We all take photos for different reasons. As a photo-journalist or war-photographer, you are responding to a commission and have to obtain images of war-torn or poverty-stricken scenarios. You have to divorce yourself from any emotion in order to capture the moment for the Press or your client. It is necessary to remain detached to do the job that you are being paid for. As an enthusiastic and passionate amateur, there is a dichotomy here between being a 'Technical' photographer and being an 'Arty-Farty' photographer. Equally, there is another dichotomy extant here and that is either taking record pictures or taking images where feeling, mood and emotion are more important that hitherto and transcend a mere record. I suspect from our discussions to date that you are someone who deliberately tries to break down and question your photographic boundaries. I see this as a healthy attitude not only to photography but also to life itself. You are continually questioning yourself; asking what you are doing and why you are doing it. This is one of the fundamentals of personal development and photographic improvement which should be encouraged. My advice would always be, if the moment presents itself, then take the picture. You can ask questions later with a cool head and reasoned argument. The example you quoted of photographing the crashed military aircraft for the Accident Board is a good one. Your analogy between pictures 'You had to take' and pictures 'You wanted to take' is apposite here. You are to be congratulated in being so proactive with your photography. Well done.   Posted: 05/08/2020 14:01:53
Jeri Conklin   Jeri Conklin
Brian, you nailed this one: "I see this as a healthy attitude not only to photography but also to life itself. You are continually questioning yourself; asking what you are doing and why you are doing it." This is so true for both my life and photography. From birth till last year I took pictures just to take them. I took millions of them. I usually shoot sports mode because it is fast and I can get a sequence of photos with one shot. Also I can't figure out the 4 main modes that require knowing what to put it on :-) Then I met Scott Jacobs - an amazing artist. Part of his bio was that he painted - Photorealism: embraces freedom, individualism and rebellion. I thought those 3 adjectives described "me" and who I am perfectly. When I asked Scott about how he picked his paintings to include them, he starred at me and had no clue what I was asking. Most photographers I know have sort of centered on one theme, one processing method, a more focused approach so to speak. I really wanted to find that for myself, but as you can see, I'm still searching and questioning what that would be :-) I'm not sure I can find all three things in one picture. I guess I have to define what they mean to me and go from there. I served in the Army during Vietnam (freedom), I am definitely an "individual always doing it my way" (individualism) and I am a rebel (rebellion), just give me a cause. I usually do take the shot if it moves me and question its validity later! Thank you again for sharing.   Posted: 05/08/2020 20:01:41
Brian Swinyard   Brian Swinyard
(Group 21)
Jeri, Thank you for your comments which are much appreciated. It is interesting that you are still searching for your style. Given what little I know of you and our brief exchanges recently, I would suggest that you have already found it. When I did my Masters, I decided that for my Final dissertation, I would look at my 'Personal Identity: Transition from Camera Club to Master of Arts Photographer'. Even after two years research, I still didn't know who I was and I am still looking for my own true identity.   Posted: 05/09/2020 03:06:54

Bob Legg   Bob Legg
Jeri, this discussion reminds me of an image that I took back pre-2000 on film and there was a fire a mile down the road at night in a mobile home. My 1 and only photo was a body and firemen there in the front yard and my image showed them in anguish but it wasn't known what my image actually showed until it was developed. It was too graphic to show, BUT if I had never taken the image there would be no discussion or ability to have evidence. I know not a similar situation but important for a photographer to get the image and discuss later if it should be seen.   Posted: 05/06/2020 08:53:37
Jeri Conklin   Jeri Conklin
Thank you Bob. What I have found is that sometimes you take the picture looking at one thing, and once you bring it up you find something else that is more important. I so appreciate the discussion.   Posted: 05/06/2020 09:03:43

Rick Finney   Rick Finney
Jeri: Interesting photo! At first I didn't realize that the bird was shot! That was an amazing moment you captured with you camera. I'm glad that the bird and the flying feathers are in focus. The blurred background is appropriate so that your eyes are drawn to the bird.   Posted: 05/08/2020 17:28:57
Jeri Conklin   Jeri Conklin
Rick, would this be a photo where you might do a solid color or swirled background with sort of a ring around the bird and feathers?   Posted: 05/08/2020 20:06:23
Brian Swinyard   Brian Swinyard
(Group 21)
Jeri, Prompted by your comment, I offer the following image where I have added Radial Zoom Blur and some Cropping.   Posted: 05/09/2020 02:33:23
Comment Image
Jeri Conklin   Jeri Conklin
Brian, WOW, I love that even better! It still has my desert landscape, but more of a "heavenly" passage feel for the bird. Is there a u-tube video on how to get the Radial Zoom blur? Photoshop? An observation - the original shot would not be acceptable as it was obviously a kill bird given the defined desert background - but just blurring this background totally gives it a different feel and as if God were calling this bird home through the "slanted light" beams. It is amazing that just changing an aspect of the photo changes its perception as well. what a lesson, thank you for sharing.   Posted: 05/09/2020 08:10:43
Brian Swinyard   Brian Swinyard
(Group 21)
Jeri, Thank you for your kind words which are much appreciated. My routine for your image was as follows. In Photoshop, create a Background Copy Layer. With this Layer selected, go to Filter>Blur>Radial Blur>Zoom>Amount 50%. If this effect is too much for you, go to Edit>Fade Radial Blur>Adjust Slider to Suit. This must be your next action if you want to make any changes. The effect will now be applied to the Background Copy Layer but not the Background Layer. Select the Background Copy Layer, select the Eraser Tool, choose an appropriate Opacity and Size of Footprint, erase the blurred copy to reveal the clear Layer underneath. When finished, either Save the image as a Photoshop PSD for further action later or Flatten the image and save as a JPEG. As with any Filter/Effect, it is important to be subtle to be effective, otherwise it detracts from rather than enhances the image. Simply by adding the blurred effect changes the image from being a mere record of the event to something that has a pictorial element to it. In this case, it is as though the bird is flying down the channel into the distance. If you want to have a look at a YouTube video, just enter <Photoshop Radial Blur> which will give you a whole raft of options. I hope this helps.   Posted: 05/09/2020 14:05:29
Jeri Conklin   Jeri Conklin
Yes, just what I need to know. I'll give it a try this afternoon. Thank you. If I were to slant the bird slightly, would it make it look like it was flying into the "light" so to speak? I'll try it for the challenge.   Posted: 05/09/2020 14:36:54

Brian Swinyard   Brian Swinyard
(Group 21)
Jeri, Give it a try and see if it works. However, I suspect that it might make the image a little unbalanced.   Posted: 05/09/2020 14:55:10

Joan Field   Joan Field
I hesitate to take part in this almost historic dialogue between Jeri and Brian. I think the thoughts of both are very contemplative, and yet enlightening. The bird was a wonderful capture, although sad. I am not a fan of hunting with guns, so do not look for me on any hunting party, or any shooting for sport at all, Having said that, you were certainly at the right place at the right time. I did see your other photos of the killing of the bird, and, you are right, one of them was a bit too graphic for me. However, I certainly congratulate you on your ability to capture this moment in time,   Posted: 05/15/2020 13:45:34

Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
(Groups 36 & 67)
When I look at a photo I tend to do so as a judge. I look for the merit of the photo. There are 9 categories that I was taught to consider when evaluating an image. One of these categories is technical merit. This scores very high marks for technical merit. There is clearly a highly defined skill set that was needed to make this capture. While all 9 categories are considered when one category is utilized exceptionally well it can sway the overall score.

I think this is exceptional use of technique.

A photographer captures the world as he/she sees it. Photographers do not create the world, they record it. I think you are right to capture the moment. Let others decide the moral or ethical issues.

Well done!   Posted: 05/17/2020 14:20:31

Jeri Conklin   Jeri Conklin
Joan and Larry, thank you very much for your kind words. I am not a fan of killing animals either and this is the worst part of my training that I have to do with my dogs. I have someone else flush and shoot the birds, though it doesn't make it any easier.

Larry, thank you for your comments as well. I like your: "Photographers do not create the world, they record it." Something to think about :-)   Posted: 05/17/2020 14:39:51

 

Please log in to post a comment