Splendid Fairy Wren

I love seeing images of other bird photographers. There are plenty of shots posted daily on places such as Facebook and Instagram and it’s great to se such variety. There are some exceptional photographers out there but one thing I have noticed is the noticeable increase in bird images where the background has been either cloned out or ‘blurred’. Yes, it makes the bird(s) stand out but plenty of photographers are using the same peach/pastel backgrounds, rendering the images ‘more of the same’.

To do this occasionally is fine, in my opinion, but to do this for every single image can become quite monotonous. I have been teaching bird photography techniques for 17 years+ and have always taught participants to ‘get it right in camera’, out in the field. You can the process your image, of course, but by using a natural background that’s blurred out, it is a much more pleasing image.

In some cases, you can easily see a halo or white mark around the bird, where the cloning or blurring wasn’t done well. To me, that completely spoils the image. I have also seen where photographers have blurred the background and the blurred sections have been used multiple times and are identical to each other, something that again spoils the image.

Sure, there are definitely instances where the bird(s) are in a spot where you have no choice but to takes shots as is, regardless of the unsightly background. In those examples, you can work on your background on the computer, so that the bird doesn’t get ‘lost’ in the image. I, however, have NEVER cloned a background and it has always been my aim to work that bit harder to get it right, out in the field.

Removing a blade or two of grass or a twig is common practice in post, using the Spot Healing Brush and Content Aware Fill, in Photoshop, but the image remains as close to authentic as possible.

I must add that there is nothing wrong with cloning backgrounds out and replacing them, if that’s what you enjoy doing. It is, in the end, a personal choice. Just try not doing the SAME cloning/blurring for shot after shot.

Lastly, if you are entering nature photography competitions, please read the rules very carefully, as they vary from competition to competition. Some, such as Wildlife Photographer of the Year’ in the U.K., don’t allow any cloning whatsoever and you must provided the original RAW file on request, if you are selected for the finals.

In the end, do what makes you happy and feels right. I’m only suggesting you don’t become a ‘clone’ with every single image you process : – ))

 If you are interested in developing your bird photography skills, Michael has a two-day bird photography workshop coming up in the QLD Bunya Mountains.

If you have a passion for wildlife, nature or travel photography and would love to go on a small-number, professional photography adventure, please get in touch with Michael Snedic at WildNature Photo Expeditions. You can call him on 0408 941 965 or fill in this Contact Form and he will get back to you ASAP.

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