An Issue with Some Images

13 December 2015

A recent discussion prompted me to post about an issue I see quite often, and which is just a natural part of photography. Sometimes a bird's plumage represented in a photograph doesn't quite appear as it truly is. A bird may look too contrasty, too saturated in color, too colorless, too dark overall, too whitish, etc. This is due to several separate reasons, some of which are: the bird is in poor light, the photograph is taken at sunrise or sunset, the bird is flying over snow cover, the lens used has an abberation, etc. So, when you see a bird that seems to be "off" in color or contrast, try not to make a definitive judgement on the bird's age/race/sex without considering that the photo might be misleading. Here is a photo of a typical 1st-year Western Red-tailed Hawk. The original image on top was shot in a certain instance where the bird appears very blackish and contrasty similar to what we associate the Harlan's race to look like, and if I posted this image on-line, I would have to argue with some why it was simply a Western Red-tail. I corrected the image below (albiet in about 10 seconds and not how I would actually correct it if going to publication) to show how it really is a typically plumaged Western Red-tail. My point is, some images need to be corrected to see their true plumage...and I often ask for more photos not because I am unsure of an identification, but because it is needed to point out traits or subtleties for an on-line discussion to be successful and helpful. So, ask for more photos if something seems "off" to your eye when you are judging photos on-line. HawkWatch always welcomes all comments and input, and I keep my posts short and open so that there is plenty of room for opinions and additional information.

Happy Hawkwatching!

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