Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ethics in nature photography

Just thought i share a personal experience recently on the need to be more in tune with your passion of capturing nature in action (be it photography or even birdwatching with your bin's)  and the need to be sensitive to nature.

While taking a leisurely walk in Pasir Ris Park, i came across a group of photographers (5 of them) with their tripods and camera's positioned underneath a tree. On closer inspection, they were taking photos of a Black-naped Oriole nest ! ,just 2 meters above ground and 1 meter from this group.


Nature Photographers

Black-naped Oriole nest (18x optical zoom from 2 meters away)

My initial excitement soon disappeared, when i realised their proximity and constant use of flash especially by one of the photographers was the cause of the distress calls from its parent's observing the events unfolding on a nearby tree. I was, for a few minutes guilty of adding to the bird's distress although i did not use flash but my proximity to the nest didn't help.

I told the photographers about the bird being alarmed, but i guess the need to get that "shot" of its parents returning to their nest was more important. I backed away and even after 5 minutes, its parents did not return to the nest. I hope the chick was not too hungry and that the parent ,did not abandon the nest.

I did some research after coming home and got to understand more on the need for a code of ethics for nature photographers and birdwatchers alike and people to be educated on it. There is no black-n-white answer and in some areas pretty subjective. But i do know in most time, our common sense must prevail. I am no angel in  this matter as well. What i do know is i have learned from it.

Some reference sites you can read:(last accessed: 27th Mar.2011)

Nature Photographers' Code of Practice, The Royal Photographic Society, Nature Group
Nature Photographers Ethics page, Nature Photographers
Ethics in Wildlife Photography, pg 3, Discover Wildlife


My key takeaway quote i thought i share, (from the Nature Group of The Royal Photographic Society)

There is one hard and fast rule, whose spirit must be observed at all times
"The welfare of the subject is more important than the photograph"

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