J. Lanning Smith  


Searching for the Resplendent Quetzel by J. Lanning Smith

January 2020 - Searching for the Resplendent Quetzel

About the Image(s)

Others go out to shoot photographs of birds, wildlife and landscapes. I do some of that too, but I'm particularly fascinated by people. Here I am in Costa Rica on a windy mostly dirt mountain road early in the morning. And then right in the road, there was a mass of people all trying to get a glimpse of a photograph of the resplendent quetzal, a very rare bird not often seen, but when it is, it's found in the upper reaches of the mountain's cloud forest. I did get some pictures of the resplendent quetzal myself because we did in fact see it. But I was also fascinated by the people seeking to see or photograph the bird.

This photograph was taken with my iPhone X. I also took some shots with a Fujifilm XT-3 camera that I purchased for myself shortly before going to Costa Rica. It's a great camera for street photography, but I haven't yet downloaded and worked on my photos from the Fujifilm camera, Unfortunately, I've been crunched for time since getting back.


This round’s discussion is now closed!
10 comments posted




Carol Sheppard   Carol Sheppard
I had to laugh, as this is so very true. Technically, it needs some work with lighting and perspective. Perhaps if you had backed away from the group somewhat? The upper left corner is very blown out, so it does distract, but could be easily fixed, I think. I like the angle that shows the binoculars, cameras, etc., but I do think if you backed up and maybe relocated to be behind the space between the two people closest to you, you could eliminate the bus and the bright spot, while also minimizing the phone lines intrusion on the image.   Posted: 01/05/2020 18:02:42
J. Lanning Smith   J. Lanning Smith
See my comment below. In addition to my comment below, the sky is not blown out (as my histogram attests). We are high in a cloud forest and what this is showing is a foggy sky. In fact, you can see the intersection of the fog with the trees as well in the top left of this image.   Posted: 01/11/2020 16:29:53



Beverly Caine   Beverly Caine
Image definitely tells the story of the mob looking for something, but I too found that I reacted negatively to the bus and thought I might have tried a way to eliminate it. Leaves the viewer wondering what's up there.   Posted: 01/11/2020 15:20:20
J. Lanning Smith   J. Lanning Smith
See my comment below   Posted: 01/11/2020 16:30:39



J. Lanning Smith   J. Lanning Smith
I would like to hear more opinions. My understanding of street photography is not to focus in on the subject to the point of losing the surroundings. In street photography, it's been my understanding that we want to know what is going on around the subject too. Also, it's been my understanding that you don't take things out of the scene in a street photograph. You want to document the scene as it is.

In this particular case, I thought the bus was relevant also because it tells us how the people got there. And to me that's an important part of the image. Without the bus, a viewer might be left wondering how all these people got out on this windy, middle of nowhere dirt road.

I also thought the phone lines help to show that this is not an urban location in the United States.

So, I'm really wondering what others think too.   Posted: 01/11/2020 16:23:33
Bill Foy   Bill Foy
Jim, I'd suggest you Google "Top 10 Contemporary Street Photographers Active Today". You'll find all kinds of things that break every "rule" of Street Photography. I follow a lot of street photography on Instagram and see a lot of things I've been told are "not allowed". Can you remove things from street photos? Yes, you can. Can you add things? I don't think so, but I'll bet there are examples of it somewhere on the internet. My thoughts on removing the bus - get it out of there. No one is wondering how those people arrived at the scene, any more than they're wondering where they came from, or why they're dressed as they are.   Posted: 01/24/2020 14:51:57
J. Lanning Smith   J. Lanning Smith
I guess removing the bus is the consensus opinion. But I actually probably won't do anymore with this image anyway. I don't think it's a particularly good image. I submitted it kind of quickly because I didn't have time in December to go through my images, and I wanted to get something to you. I appreciate everyone's feedback about moving more behind the group. I can try that next time I encounter this kind of situation.   Posted: 01/24/2020 16:14:42



Karen Johnson-Nieuwendijk   Karen Johnson-Nieuwendijk
Photographing crowds is always fun. But I agree with Carol that relocating to the back would probably been a stronger shot. Being in one of the crowds looking for a resplendent quetzal myself at one time a few years ago, I understand how we must look to others. And it amazes me when I stop to look at a bird how many passing people stop to ask me what I am looking for.   Posted: 01/11/2020 16:24:53



Ed Tepper   Ed Tepper
I like the story you're trying to tell and I like the mystery of not knowing what's up there.

I agree with you that you want to know what's going on around the subject. On the other hand you need to be aware of your background and make a conscious decision about what adds to, does nothing for or detracts from the story. To me the bus can go any of those ways. I generally do not clone objects out of my street photos but I do crop them out if they're a distraction. You don't have to be a slave to the lens' view. At first glance my eye is drawn to bright left top corner, which to me is a big distraction. I think if you cropped it down, you might have a more pleasing photo.

As far as point of view, I think perhaps getting down lower and shooting upwards in line with the subjects might make a better perspective.

  Posted: 01/16/2020 19:19:19



Bill Foy   Bill Foy
I'm in general agreement about moving to the back of the group and also with Ed's comments.   Posted: 01/24/2020 14:54:17