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#18186
A troll is :"a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum"

I posted some facts which you challenged. I gave evidence to refute your challenge.

Now your pouting.

My sincere apologies for forcing you to deal with facts.

Dennis
#18187
Guy L. Monty wrote:No. But I will say that I think you are a troll, and I'm done talking to you.
A wise decision. I wrote him off as soon as he started insisting that if the birds don't like flash, they can move somewhere else. Good grief.
By birdtrekkerbc
#18189
daddyhominum wrote: Birds are free to avoid photographers and most do by avoiding such places. Even Owls, if they find human company and cameras with flashes disturbing, can avoid them.
Are you serious? I wasn't aware of a newletter for birds telling them what places to avoid if they don't want to experience ruthless photographers. I'm sure the Great Gray Owl at Colony Farms would have liked to know that before it was chased away, or the Great Gray Owl at Campbell River that was hit by a van because it was being chased by photographers. So as I understand it, your telling me it's the birds fault for not avoiding those places?

No disrespect to any of the photographers that conduct themselves in a professional manner. I know a few and I think they all believe in being a birder first.
By daddyhominum
#18193
amblesidebirder wrote:
daddyhominum wrote: Birds are free to avoid photographers and most do by avoiding such places. Even Owls, if they find human company and cameras with flashes disturbing, can avoid them.
Are you serious? I wasn't aware of a newletter for birds telling them what places to avoid if they don't want to experience ruthless photographers. I'm sure the Great Gray Owl at Colony Farms would have liked to know that before it was chased away, or the Great Gray Owl at Campbell River that was hit by a van because it was being chased by photographers. So as I understand it, your telling me it's the birds fault for not avoiding those places?

No disrespect to any of the photographers that conduct themselves in a professional manner. I know a few and I think they all believe in being a birder first.
Of course I am serious.
Try this thought experiment on avoidance. 1. Think of about 30 juncos are on my deck feeding.2.Think about me stepping out on my deck. 3. Imagine how many juncos remain on my deck feeding. The birds are free to move away from me. And only those whose 'flight distance' instinct permits them to come to my deck feeders are ever seen. The vast majority of juncos within a mile of my home stay safe and hidden out of view.

There are many excellent papers on the plasticity of the 'flight instinct' of wild animals and the interesting effects of selective breeding to reduce the distance, such as the creation of domestic species.

It is a given that wild species individually vary in the response to human presence and except in very few conditions(eg Mauritius) are free to move according to their individual instincts.

You should understand that fault, human or bird, is not part of the issue. Operant, observable instinctual behaviour determines a bird's presence for photographs.

I would argue that you disrespect the professional photographers who spend month and years in uncomfortable isolation to create the trust necessary to photograph, video, and tell the story of wild creatures, bird or other beast, when you lump them in with people who refuse to use a flash on a barn owl in their yard. Professionalism doesn't come that cheap.

Dennis
#18214
Thanks amblesidebirder - I agree, it doesn't look like this debate will reach a conclusion that is satisfactory to everyone (or perhaps anyone). The best I can offer might be the middle road:

I think (or hope) that one thing we can all agree on is that one consequence of the rising popularity of birding (including bird photography) is an increased public awareness of birds and their habitats - with both positive and negative consequences to birds. On one hand, more awareness could mean more work to preserve wild spaces for birds - on the other, increased birding can mean more disruption for birds as people seek them out within their habitats. Hopefully we can atleast all agree that its sad that the Great Grey in Campbell River got hurt because of human interaction.

So, lets each practice integrity in birding - whatever that may mean to you.

Objective contemplation of ones actions can never hurt.

Jill
By revs
#18235
amblesidebirder wrote:
daddyhominum wrote: Birds are free to avoid photographers and most do by avoiding such places. Even Owls, if they find human company and cameras with flashes disturbing, can avoid them.
Are you serious? I wasn't aware of a newletter for birds telling them what places to avoid if they don't want to experience ruthless photographers. I'm sure the Great Gray Owl at Colony Farms would have liked to know that before it was chased away, or the Great Gray Owl at Campbell River that was hit by a van because it was being chased by photographers. So as I understand it, your telling me it's the birds fault for not avoiding those places?

No disrespect to any of the photographers that conduct themselves in a professional manner. I know a few and I think they all believe in being a birder first.
Where did you read the info on the GGO being hit by a van Les?
I haven't read anything on that or even that the one at Colony Farm was actually chased away.

Sad to hear but not surprising unfortunately it it is indeed true.

Now, if only all photogs could find the same joy shooting turnstones instead of owls all the time maybe there would be more space for everyone :)

PS, i've decided to not list specific locations anymore when i post shots, partly for this reason.
#21236
Interesting thread, but a little muddled.

Firstly, consider the technical aspects of flash photography. (I have been doing photography for about 40 years and have had magazine covers, but in the sports area.) Hopefully the technical aspects are irrefutable and can be stripped of emotion.

Cameras have improved enormously in recent years. Now ISO can be set to over 100,000 in some models. These technical improvements lessen the requirement for flash (from a perspective of photography). I recall when I first tried out a high ISO camera and went outdoors in Winter at midnight. Clearly the camera could "see" in the dark better than I could. Not as good an an Owl, I expect - but the gap will only close.

Yesterday, I tried some fill flash on a Steller's Jay sitting about 15 feet above ground in thick dark forest. These birds look black from below in dim light. The bird took no notice of the flash at all. Conversely, I recall watching a Rufous Hummingbird sitting on a tree top in bright sunlight about 100 feet away from me. I noticed it give a startled jump when my camera shutter was released (no flash of course). I was surprised at the bird's reaction at such a distance. On another occasion a female Rufous landed on a branch about 15 feet from me in plain view. I aimed my camera (without flash) and again noticed a little flinch when the shutter was released. However, she quickly learned that no harm was associated with the shutter release and sat there for several minutes and many exposures. So both birds and people can learn.

On the other end of the scale with respect to disturbing birds, consider this story. Last Winter I wandered over to Boundary Bay. I parked and popped my trunk to get out my gear. While I was doing so another person drove up in an SUV and opened his rear door. I assumed that he was another photographer and was intending to speak with him. He pulled out hip waders and I thought he was going to get serious about walking in the marsh. Then he pulled out a shotgun. We would both be "shooting", but we would be far apart in location and intentions.

Clearly many posters have severe entanglement between emotion and reason. For a serious photographer, there in an inflection point between getting the photo desired and disturbance of the subject. And it's different for each photographer. I try to capture what is there, what is given by the subject. Others fiddle with attractants and mess up the environment to get the photo they want. I will not pass judgment on the personal utilities of others.

Likewise I am not a BANANA person (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything). These people just respond emotionally to issues and are fodder for rapacious politicians. Things change. They always have. They always will. Birds will be disturbed and some will become extinct. Some will thrive. When the forests are aflame, I'm certain many birds (even Owls) are enormously disturbed.

From a broad perspective, I don't think that flash photography is a threat to birds in general. I imagine that more birds die flying into windows than die as a consequence of flash photography. But in the near future, cameras with improved low light capability and improved dynamic range will dramatically lessen the requirement for artificial lighting and techniques for lowering dynamic range and consequently the BANANA people and the photographers will both be happy.
#21239
The idea that just because some other factor causes more overall harm than your behavior, it makes your behavior ok, is the silliest justification for unethical photography I have ever heard.

It's like saying that because cancer kills more people than baseball bats every year, it's ok to occasionally beat someones brains in with a bat.

Of course, I am only operating on emotion here.........................
#21280
Someone sent me this article a while back in response to this thread, thought i'd post it now since the thread refuses to die :wink: , take from it what you will.

Flash Photography and the Visual System of Birds and Animals
Wednesday, March 31 2004

The use of artificial lighting to photograph animals is an area of controversy. To review this topic, a basic understanding of the retina is necessary.
BACKGROUND
The retina is comprised of rod cells for night and motion sensory information and cone cells for daylight and color vision. The ratio of rods and cones varies by species. Compared to mammals, birds have a greater number of cone cells allowing greater color perception and visual acuity in daylight. Nocturnal creatures, by comparison, have a greater rod-to-cone ratio which allows for better night vision.
In bright light, rod cells are bleached of rhodopsin, the photoreceptor pigment important for the translation of light energy into the electrical signals ultimately recognized by the occipital cortex of the brain. While the rods are inactive in bright light, the cone cells are responsible for translating light information into electrical signals. Going from bright to dark conditions, there is a period of dark adaptation required for the rod cells to “charge” and become functional. In nature, the change from light to dark is ordinarily gradual and the concurrent change from a cone driven electrical response to a signal originating primarily from rod cells occurs smoothly and without interruption of function.
PERMANENT DAMAGE
Phototoxic retinopathy, or permanent damage to retinal nerve cells as a result of light energy, has been studied in humans and other animals. Extreme unfiltered bright light, focused onto the retina through surgical microscope lenses has been documented to produce permanent retinal damage. To cause either microscopically evident or grossly visible lesions, the light must be held in focus on a single area of the retina for an extended period of time. This situation generally occurs in specialized surgery, when anesthetic agents prevent the movement of the eye. Operating microscopes for ophthalmology are now all equipped with specialized filters to prevent phototoxic retinopathy even with extended procedures.
Laser, by definition a highly focused beam of light energy, may produce retinal damage. In fact, in the treatment of diabetic retinopathy, retinal detachments and other diseases of the eye, laser is employed to purposefully burn selected areas of the retina. It is capable of doing this, even with very brief periods of exposure, because the light is highly focused. Therefore, when considering the possible damage to the retina by any light source, both its intensity and degree of focus must be assessed.
FLASH UNITS
Strobe lights used in on-camera flash units produce a very short duration burst of light, usually lasting only a small fraction of a second. Strobe lights are most often used at some distance from a subject and, even with flash extenders, the light is not focused, but diffused, upon reaching the subject. The inverse square law for light intensity indicates that the decay in light intensity occurs as the square of the distance from its source. Double the distance from the light source to the object and the object receives only one-quarter the intensity. In other words, the fall off in intensity is rapid as light leaves the strobe. Even at the source, the translucent plastic cover overlaying the flash element diffuses the light immediately.
For more than 20 years, researchers and clinicians have used the ERG test (electroretinogram) to study function and diseases of the retina. This test involves using a strobe light stimulator to record electrical signals originating from the rods and cones. Protocols vary by testing laboratories. The rod cells are usually tested by first dark-adapting the subject, i.e., placing the subject in a dark room from 5-20 minutes, and then subjecting the retina to a dim flash of light. The light is increased to full power and then flickered at 40Hz to isolate the cone cells for testing. The stimulator or strobe light is generally positioned within a few centimeters of the cornea for testing. Grass stimulator units produce diffuse light like a camera strobe, but of much greater intensity. For cone testing, the full power flash is flickered 40 times per second for several seconds in duration. Although the light is intense and positioned close to the subject, it is not highly focused and, consequently, does not permanently damage the retina.
EFFECTS OF FLASH
Nature photography subjects may be startled by a sudden unexpected burst of light; some may depart because of it, others may continue what they were doing and may not even appear reactive to subsequent use of flash. Light intensity, degree of focus, and ambient light are all factors when considering possible impact on visual acuity.
Fill-flash involves the balance of ambient and artificial lighting. In situations when fill-flash is used, cone cells are active, and they are designed to work in all but dim light. Because of this, the use of fill-flash on animals and birds is not likely to have any effect on their visual systems. Cone cells do not bleach to a nonfunctional state in bright light as the rod cells do.
Flash as main light in dim light conditions can produce a temporary reduction in vision but not permanent damage.
In total darkness, use of flash may cause a temporary reduction in vision for 5-20 minutes. It takes one hour of dark conditioning to achieve maximum electrical responses from rod cells in the retina. The regeneration of rod function even after "bleaching" by a bright light is not linear with time. Animals and birds probably have 50% return of function in the first five minutes, and 75% in another five minutes. The rods are rapidly moving from zero function to full sensitivity during that time, with the greatest return of function per time unit occurring in the first 10-15 minutes.
Because of the initial impairment of vision from flash in total darkness, repeated flash of birds or animals in this situation is not advocated. Ethical nature photographers avoid altering their subject’s behavior. The judicious use of flash in completely dark situations causing a brief vision alteration must be offset by the educational value of the photograph made. Technically excellent pictures of owls and other animals in their natural environment made at night with flash may, in the end, benefit the species as a result of increased public awareness. In select situations, the use of flash may be justified. Many nocturnal species rely upon other senses in combination with vision during dim or dark conditions; for example, the auditory capabilities of owls at night are probably far more important for hunting as compared with the visual sense.
SUMMARY
In summary, to produce phototoxic retinopathy, or permanent damage, a focused intense light must be held in one location on the retina for a time several magnitudes greater than the duration of a camera flash. Fill-flash is not likely to have any effect on visual systems; flash as main light in dim light conditions may produce a temporary reduction in vision but not permanent damage. Flash on nocturnal subjects during nighttime should be used sparingly due to brief impairment of vision.
Flash does not cause permanent damage to the eyes of animals or people, even at close range. The eye is developed to handle bright light, such as the sun. This is the reason the rod cells "turn off" in bright light. Flash is diffused light when it reaches the subject. Only very highly focused light, like looking at the sun through your telephoto, or laser application, would be expected to cause permanent retinal damage.
Hypothetically, if scientific information indicated that flash photography, under normal use, produced permanent retinal damage, it would trigger additional rules and regulations. Flash would not be allowed in making human portraits, strobe units would be banned from theatres and dance halls, children would not be allowed to handle cameras and flash units and their instruction manuals would carry warning labels.
Cell phone and radio towers, feral animals, air and water pollution, automobiles, and habitat reduction may be issues of much greater importance confronting bird and animal subjects than any temporary vision changes associated with the use of flash in dim or dark light. By limiting our nighttime use of flash and using fill-flash primarily to enhance ambient light photography, we hope to produce images of animal and bird subjects that will increase public awareness and appreciation of nature subjects. By calling attention to the importance of maintaining a diverse population of birds and animals on this planet, we may ultimately be able to improve the survival and quality of life of the subjects photographed.

Dennis Olivero obtained his DVM degree from the University of Minnesota where he also did an internship in small animal medicine and surgery. A comparative ophthalmology residency was completed at North Carolina State University, followed by a post doctorate NIH fellowship at the University of Minnesota College of Medicine. Dennis Olivero is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists and has served as staff veterinary ophthalmologist at two veterinary colleges and two private specialty practices. He has research publications in both the veterinary and human medical field.
Donald Cohen obtained his doctorate in medicine at State University of New York in Buffalo and went on to a flexible internship at Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He completed his ophthalmology specialty training at Pittsburgh Eye and Ear and has been practicing ophthalmology for twenty years in his clinic in Mooresville, North Carolina.
Dr. Olivero’s interest in photography dates back to a trip to Africa in 1978; to see his images please visit his website at http://www.northernlightnaturephotography.com. Dr. Cohen’s passion for photography goes back as far as thirty years; to see his images please visit his website at http://www.dlcphotography.net.
#26675
birdtrekkerbc wrote:Being a birder as well as a bird bander the motto that we alway use is:

More than anything else, the health, safety and well being of the bird comes first.

If that means I miss out on a rare bird, a lifer, or a great photo opportunity, then so be it.
Les, thank you for posting that in such a nice concise and erudite manner. I now intend to adopt that policy as my own as well.

I've told myself: "Above all: DO NO HARM"...when conducting wildlife photography whether it be birds or any other form of wildlife.
#28172
Just thought I would bring this up again in light of recent pics of nocturnal birds being flashed at night.The following is about the most favorable article I can find but even it says eyesight very reduced for 10-15 minutes where full function takes 1 hr.Using the excuse that their hearing can compensate just does not wash with me.Why even take the chance this bird can be harmed by predators or hurt itself.I would think it needs at night it's full senses at all times.I personally would find it scary to have reduced eyesight for any period of time just for the sake of a picture.

Flash as main light in dim light conditions can produce a temporary reduction in vision but not permanent damage.
In total darkness, use of flash may cause a temporary reduction in vision for 5-20 minutes. It takes one hour of dark conditioning to achieve maximum electrical responses from rod cells in the retina. The regeneration of rod function even after "bleaching" by a bright light is not linear with time. Animals and birds probably have 50% return of function in the first five minutes, and 75% in another five minutes. The rods are rapidly moving from zero function to full sensitivity during that time, with the greatest return of function per time unit occurring in the first 10-15 minutes.
Because of the initial impairment of vision from flash in total darkness, repeated flash of birds or animals in this situation is not advocated. Ethical nature photographers avoid altering their subject’s behavior. The judicious use of flash in completely dark situations causing a brief vision alteration must be offset by the educational value of the photograph made. Technically excellent pictures of owls and other animals in their natural environment made at night with flash may, in the end, benefit the species as a result of increased public awareness. In select situations, the use of flash may be justified. Many nocturnal species rely upon other senses in combination with vision during dim or dark conditions; for example, the auditory capabilities of owls at night are probably far more important for hunting as compared with the visual sense.
Thanks Ted Ardley
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