I had a lot of fun today taking photos of a Sedge Warbler. The singing bush of choice was a bramble, and brambles typically have a lot of branches, twigs, thorns, dead bits, leaves. In photography, these are called distracting elements. Anyway, whilst almost absurdly close, it never really posed in the perfect spot, that is to say, the perfect spot as far as I was concerned. As far as the perfect spot for Miss Sedge Warbler goes, it was probably spot on. There was no Miss Sedge Warbler however, there was just me. Now a Sedge Warbler is not a moth. You can't catch it, pop it in the fridge overnight, and then carefully position it on a nice bit of wood the next morning whilst it is comatose and snap away to your heart's content. You basically have to work with what you have got.
In the old days, what you saw is what you got. The slide was the slide, and that was it. These days it isn't so clear cut. If there is a branch, you can zap it. A stray twig? Kapow, and gone! It takes quite a lot of work, but essentially almost anything is possible. Photographers call this image optimization. Anyhow, back to the Sedgie. I managed to get a clear shot of it on occasion, but there were loads of distracting elements. A session in Photoshop however, and el Segdie is singing from a clean, distraction-free perch. Happy days.
But this poses a few questions, not least that having done all the hard work, do I actually prefer the image with the clean background or not?. Other more interesting questions might encompass whether it is right to do so or not? The image does not represent what actually occured. Or maybe it does, just not quite all of it. Have I messed with nature? (you know, moved a Shrike's larder for instance). No. Have I got out the secateurs and messed with a bird's bush? Euphemisms aside, only metaphorically. Does removing a few twigs fundamentally alter the image, which shows a Sedgie having a bit of a sing? Is the Sedge Warbler now somehow unnatural? Could I enter this in a competition, or would it be classed as cheating?
What do you think. In an html coding triumph, I have managed to work out mouse-hovering. Do please try it out. In theory, if you hover your mouse cursor over the photo below, you should see the original. Move it off again, you'll see my optimized version.
Anyhow, seeing as how everyone is a photographer these days, what do you think?