Is it OK to use props in the wild? Linn Smith takes a look at this interesting question

by Guest Contributor

posted Sunday, November 15, 2015 at 9:48 AM EDT


By IR Reader Linn Smith

Many beautiful images of small songbirds are photographed among an assortment of lovely colored flowers. Capturing a larger wild bird with an accent of flowers is rare and difficult as they often are not in a flowered type of environment. I live near Lake Jesup in Seminole County, Florida, and have been photographing many larger birds for years along the shoreline.

Always interested in creating a new look to these photos, it occurred to me to use the lake as a backdrop and place artificial flowers (I tried real flowers with no success) in the water as they search for food along the shoreline. This experiment provided me with a vast amount of knowledge on their behavior. Mainly, they are very curious when they run into something out of the ordinary and often stop to observe what this new item is in the water.

Is the use of these fake flowers clever, or against "the rules"?

I have had more success with White Ibis than any of the other birds. Mainly because they are more abundant in my area in their quest for food. It is quite interesting to see one of the bigger birds - Limpkin, for example, exhibit the same type of curiosity provided by smaller birds such as Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron and others. I have accumulated a vast collection of these images with a variety of different artificial flowers. I am using these birds as models with a prop just like capturing a person in a studio. Is there a market for this type of image? Or is it false to create a scene which has been manually composed to enhance their beauty?

•  •  •

Thanks, Linn, for a great question for discussion! To our readers, do you have a stance on whether or not using props such as these fake flowers is OK, or a violation of photographic natural law? Please join us in the comments below! And for anyone interested in seeing an award-winning bird image from Ms. Smith in our Photo of the Day contest, please click here!



Reader Stories is a new column on our site, a platform for our readers
to share images and ideas with our community. It's a great way to share your creativity and passion with your fellow photographers out there! If you'd like to submit a story of your own, please visit this news story for more information on how to submit an entry. We look forward to hearing from you!