Fwd: [Raptor_conservation] photographers threaten endangered Hen Harrier

To: <>
Subject: Fwd: [Raptor_conservation] photographers threaten endangered Hen Harrier
From: Bill Stent <>
Date: Sat, 13 Nov 2010 08:29:43 +1100
Hi all, Bill here

Following yesterday's discussion about photographers I asked a mate who's big in a camera club here in Melbourne about codes of ethics.

Seems there isn't anything written for them to follow, but these are his thoughts about it, including someone to write to to complain about bad behaviour.

From: "Malcolm Vickers" <>
Sent: Friday, November 12, 2010 6:49 PM
To: "Bill Stent" <>
Subject: Re: Camera club code of ethics

Hi Bill,

You can pass my potted view back if you wish.

Hmm... I'm not sure what to make of this:

"All they wanted were top images of birds for entry into photographic competitions."

I can only write about what I see in the amateur photography world, I don't know about the professionals. Certainly the paparazzi have a very poor reputation.

It's true that birds do make good photographic subjects. However it's also true that if you take a brilliant photo of a sparrow, or anything else alive or dead, it will beat an ordinary photo of a rare and endangered bird every time.

If photographers are behaving badly and endangering the animals they are trying to photograph then they deserve to be told off or even fined (if that's possible) as any ordinary member of the public.

If any bird watcher cares to "educate" a photographer about the damage they might be doing - then please do so and very loudly if you wish.

I find most amateur photographers involved in "nature" photography are doing it because they love nature and want to show it and preserve it. Yes, sadly, there are cowboys with a little too much of the hunter instinct, hell bent on winning competitions.

It's true that any trouble or method the photographer uses to get the image isn't counted. In amateur photography, photos are normally judged in a blinded way. I know that sounds silly but it means the judge makes and appraisal based only on the image only. They don't know the photographers name or any of the details of how the image was taken, they can only surmise based on the image.

It's very difficult, or quite impossible to enforce ethical rules on any amateur group. I would enquire as to which organization (if any) the photographer belongs and write a letter of complaint to that body.

In Victoria, about 90% of amateur photographic clubs are affiliated with the VAPS.
In NSW (including Bowra) it's the "Federation of camera clubs NSW"

Amateur photgraphers do rely on the good will of others to succeed. If someone has behaved badly they deserve to have their reputation called into question.

As usual, it the few bad apples.


At 12:22 PM 12/11/2010, you wrote:
Hey Mal, does your camera club have any code of ethics governing (in this case) bird photography?

Alleged behaviour of a minority of photographers is causing quite a bit of angst on the Biding-Aus newsgroup, see below.


From: "Carl Clifford"
Sent: Friday, November 12, 2010 12:15 PM
To: "jenny spry"
Cc: "Birding-Aus"
Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Fwd: [Raptor_conservation] photographers threaten endangered Hen Harriers in Holland

Hi Jen,

I also was up at Bowra when the Restless F-c chicks hatched. I was taking shots from the steps of the quarters, when one of the photographers there said I should climb up the tree "so I could get a good shot". I replied that the birds were being disturbed too much anyway. The photographer replied " what's the problem? The birds are probably going to be eaten by something anyway" I walked away before said photographer would have had to bend over to take any further photographs. Shortly after that, signs were placed in the quarters giving rules for photographing birds, but they seemed to make no difference to the behaviour of certain individuals.

I find it rather bizarre that Camera clubs have a code of ethics for the production of the images, but not for how the images were obtained.


Carl Clifford

On 12/11/2010, at 11:24 AM, jenny spry wrote:

Hi all,

I think some things have changed with the introduction of DSLR cameras and are being overlooked in this discussion. Without detracting from the concern that "some bird watchers" threaten the security of their target bird, the matter has become much wider.

For example, the photographers harassing the flycatchers at Bowra earlier this year were not "birdwatchers", they were "photographers". All they wanted were top images of birds for entry into photographic competitions.

I met them there but left the day after they arrived so missed the damage they supposedly did. I do know however that they were very excited to have the opportunity to photograph "Leaden Flycatchers" at the nest. They knew they were "Leadens" and not Restless because one "had rusty orange on the breast". They had checked their field guide and I could not persuade them otherwise.

I ate my dinner with one of the photographers in the shearers shed and he was telling me all about his camera club and what the rules were about the images eg no digital manipulation, the images had to be as they were taken, hence the need for no branches obstructing the view etc. Photoshopped images could not be used in their competitions. And some of the photos were exquisite, even if the bird was misnamed.

It is still the minority giving the rest a bad name but they are no longer all "birdwatchers", "bird photgraphers" have now joined the "birding" fraternity.




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