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The value of a Photograph.

Discussion in 'Talking Pictures' started by MickLL, Jun 4, 2011.

  1. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member


    The above picture probably won't mean much to most viewers but in fact it's very important. I'll explain why later but first let me tell you why I've posted it.

    In other threads and, in fact in many photo clubs, Natural History photography is somehow derided as boring. It's not art and the insistence on technical quality gets a thumbs down - maybe because it's very hard to achieve. Equally we NH photographers have to accept that our goal isn't prettiness it's accuracy. If we can 'do pretty' as well then it's a bonus. I've posted this picture in the hope that you will understand why I get a buzz from what I do and at the same time appreciate the value of a clear, well exposed, well focussed image - even though it's not pretty!!

    Recently I've taken on the task of a thorough documentation of the Dragonflies around my local lake. Through photography I've been able to prove the existence of two species that were thought impossible in this area. This photo is one of them and I've chosen it because the identification features are quite subtle and depended on good photographic quality.

    The photo shows yellowish markings along each side of the abdomen and for years, seeing those markings, people have thought that the species was a 'Broad Bodied Chaser' - pretty common everywhere.

    However look at the tips of the wings where you will see the faintest of brownish smudges. Also look at the thorax where you will not see any white stripes. Those two features together with others that I won't elaborate prove that the species is in fact the Scarce Chaser.

    So, through photography, I've now proved that at least two species exist where they are not supposed to.

    A trivial example? Probably - but it's given me quite a buzz.

    All comments, argument and other opinion welcome. ;)

  2. swanseadave

    swanseadave Well-Known Member

    Mick,I admire your absolute commitment to NH photography and applaud it.I wish that I had the habitat near here to photograph these wonderful creatures.

    As to the picture,boring it is not.I can find no criticism:it`s well exposed and razor sharp.

    Well done.:cool:
  3. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    But if it were free of NH restrictions, clearly the grot on the leaf above and leaf cutting across the port wings would attract comment.

    Clearly NH records like this have great value and where they capture something unique, rise well above such niceities. I can see how they give great satisfaction. Why is it I always get bitten by something when I try to do anything like it?
  4. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the interest - very few others seem bothered;)

    I'm glad that you see my point and appreciate why I get satisfaction.

    The rest of your comment indicates that you still have your 'art/competition' head on.;) In this context the things that would be 'defects' on the competition scene are 100% unimportant. I would never have offered this shot for competition.

    In fact there's a whole argument to be had about whether we photographers should 'compete' at all. The fact is though that we do. My own club devotes around 50% of its meetings to competition.

    I rarely enter competitions - except for my club NH competition - but I do enjoy getting informed comments.


    PS You might also have mentioned the awful pixellation - especially in the b/g but that's a feature of the reduction process and tiny file size!
  5. AGW

    AGW Well-Known Member

    My approach in these circumstances is always get the record shot (as well as possible) before you start to think about the art.

  6. Jacqui Jay

    Jacqui Jay Grasshopper's Sage

    You have inspired me to go and search through my broad-bodied chasers, just in case I have a 'scarce' lurking in there. To me, a photograph of this kind is immensely invaluable – nothing irritates me quite as much as seeing "it's just an NH record shot". I think wildlife photography is a lot harder than studio work, can take a huge amount of time (days or weeks sometimes) and a lot of effort also goes into the presentation.
  7. OneTen

    OneTen 'Two Breakfasts'

    I certainly agree regarding the value of NH photography and also the value of actually looking, as the more you look the more you find. The other benefit is educational, I've learnt about the identifying feature of the Scarce Chaser and have been reading up on the species.
  8. daft_biker

    daft_biker Action Man!

    Trivial or not I understand completely - I get the same buzz from some of my springtail shots.

    I certainly never gave aesthetics a second thought when shooting these:

    Tentatively identified as Calvatomina nr superba (nr = near to), a species originally described from New Zealand but never seen in Scotland before (or since:().

    undescribed Katiannidae

    Sure it would have been nice to have got pretty shots but, as already said, you get the record shots first and then worry about how it looks.
  9. P_Stoddart

    P_Stoddart Well-Known Member

    I think even a layperson can enjoy a clear, well exposed NH shot. NH shows the beauty and amazing world that we might be missing around us.

    I feel it is still art in the broad sense. Because it creates a emotion both in laypeople and experts who want to see examples of the creatures they are interested in.

    Surely one could argue that landscape photography is a form of NH.
  10. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Must say I always thought that macro NH shots had an advantage in open comps, even not under NH rules. If they were half way decent they seemed to catch the judge's eye. At my old club we had a couple of specialists who did very well.
    Was galling to see a shot you rated as a piece of seeing-eye genius lose to a bug ;)

    I think some others might not appreciate the thrill of finding and shooting a rare creepy crawly rather than makeing it even rarer with your boot. I'm making a special effort for your sake. :)
  11. LargeFormat

    LargeFormat Well-Known Member

    I don't do natural history macros, don't even have a macro lens. However I think the pictures we get posted are terrific and wouldn't dream of disparaging them regardless of their scientific value.
  12. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    I very much appreciate you making an effort.;);)

    It may surprise you know that I agree with you about judges. A lot of the problem is that most 'general' judges don't know what they are looking at and tend to over mark an NH shot. One of the reasons that I gave up club competition was that the comments that I was getting were often laughable. It wasn't that I was failing. As you say I often did very well indeed and sometimes with pictures that I knew didn't deserve it.

    The other reason that I like NH is that I get to meet some delightful people. Briefly - by 'bumping into' a warden of a nature reserve I was asked to give a talk to the members. I did and a couple of members of the audience asked me to repeat the talk to other groups. So now I get around the area giving talks that are a mixture of NH and photography. Then, as a result of that, I've been asked to try to photograph a damselfly that was thought to be extinct but may have been rediscovered. As far as anyone knows it exists in just one place in the UK. If I can succeed I will have my 15 minutes of fame but, more importantly, get huge satisfaction.

  13. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Wow I can relate to that. Must say I grew out of taking pics for their own sake way back and these days need a reason or task. A great pic should be self-justifying and rewarding, but I get more these days out of a useful purpose.
    Hope you keep us in touch with the great bug-hunt. Not the Dainty in North Kent is it?
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2011
  14. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    The bug hunt was a 100% fail!!

    The weather was against me although it began bright there was a strong cold wind and therefore nothing flying. I found a few blue-tailed damsels by diligently searching the bankside vegetation and I got a few nice pictures of Marsh Frogs.

    I also had a great breakfast in a 'greasy spoon'.

    I feel another visit coming on quite soon.


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