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Wildlife Photography Do’s and Don’ts

Wildlife photography is more popular and accessible than ever. Unfortunately, as with many pastimes that become very popular, this can lead to unintended destruction from lack of awareness. This is a list of Do’s and Don’ts that the members of the  Philippine Bird Photography Forum  developed to serve as a baseline Code of Ethics for its members.

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Wildlife Photography Do’s and Don’ts


Wildlife Photography Do’s and Don’ts by Sylvia Ramos is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

You can download this image from my bird photography website.

I created the illustrations on an iPad using Paper by 53.


Cape May Common Birds Drawn with Paper by 53 for iPad

Carolina Wren

Marsh Wren

Carolina Chickadee

Carolina Chickadee

I’m still using Paper by 53, trying out different drawing styles.

There’s a LOT to like about this app:

  • one-click posting of drawings to Facebook or Tumblr! No more scanning or photographing and then uploading!
  • easy to add COLOR to the drawings. It doesn’t take much time at all. Unlike when I was using colored pencil or watercolor.
  • Plus, so far there are only 9 colors. So that alone eliminates a lot of time spent deciding on what color to use!
  • You can look at how other folks have used the same exact tools by doing a search for #MadeWithPaper on Tumblr. It’s inspiring!

And, these four drawings finish up my Cape May – Common – Spring birds!

Next I’ll be doing Cape May Fairly Common Spring, Prospect Park Abundant Spring, and Prospect Park Fairly Common Spring.

More on Paper by 53

A lot of the poor reviews of Paper by 53 in the app store center on their IPA or in app purchase pricing scheme and what is perceived as an exorbitant cost per tool. The app is free to download. So, you get the beautiful interface with unlimited moleskine notebooks plus a beautiful pen, eraser, and colors for free. Then you have to pay $1.99 for one brush. Or $7.99 for four additional tools. It even comes out slightly more expensive when you buy all the tools together than when you buy each tool separately! You get to try the tool for free in a small screen in the “store” portion of the app before you purchase. The developers said in their website that they went for that pricing scheme so that it would mirror the experience of going to a store, trying out a pen, then buying it. This however has led many users to compare the price of a brush in Paper with a brush in other drawing apps. There’s even an entire thread on the pricing in the Paper by 53 support website.

One of the popular drawing apps frequently mentioned is these discussions is Sketchbook Pro for iPad. So I went ahead and purchased the app. Sketchbook Pro costs $4.99 vs $7.99 for Paper with all the tools. So, it’s definitely cheaper. It has a LOT of features. It has brushes that “paint” cobwebs or feathery fringes or instead of plain lines. There are 45 options just for the type of line a brush will make!! Then, you can adjust the radius and opacity of every brush. So, one cannot even count the number of options available just for one brush!

When I was just doodling around with the features in Sketchbook Pro, my doodles looked quite impressive! Especially the lines of feathery fringes and cobwebs! When tried drawing some birds in Sketchbook Pro, the results were corny. There’s a bit of a lag from when you move your pen and when the line gets rendered. It’s distracting and gets in the way of the drawing experience. All the features and options in Sketchbook Pro are great IF you are used to using those kinds of tools. Big IF! If not, then there is a lot to learn and get used to. And then, the results tend to look very “digital”.

After spending some time with Sketchbook Pro, I now appreciate the design of Paper even more! Paper recreates the experience of using actual paper and pens more fully. It is a very different experience from using the usual digital drawing app. When you use Sketchbook Pro, you’re thinking: How does this app behave? How do these tools work? With Paper, the app fades into the background (of your thought process) because the tools feel just like their real-life counterparts! But better! In Paper,  you can erase an ink and watercolor! You can rewind. You have unlimited pages in your moleskine! You don’t run out ink. Your colors stay clean! There’s no mess. It really makes drawing fun!

Check out Made With Paper. The site features work done by different artists using Paper. I want to see drawings of BIRDS using Paper!


A Review of the Paper by Fifty Three iPad Drawing App

So, I really like buying iPad apps. And I get excited about them when they’re new. But lemme tell you, THIS one is something!

Paper by Fifty Three

It’s another drawing app, but it’s really different. Instead of giving you a ton of features, it keeps everything very simple. And for some reason this works really well for me. This is somehow related to another app, Draw Something. Draw Something is a drawing game. It’s like playing Pictionary. You choose a word to draw for your partner, draw it, then submit. Your partner guesses the word, you both get points. Then it’s your partner’s turn. The game screen has a pen, eraser, and colors. That’s it. And it’s a big, big hit. So big that the owner of the company is now a multi-millionaire after selling his company to Zynga.

So why was I, along will millions of other people, spending so much time drawing on Draw Something? Those simple tools on Draw Something are fun and easy to use. Paper by Fifty Three works along that concept of keeping things simple so you can just create. No overwhelming numbers of tools that you need to figure out before you can even start. You barely have a choice even. No color wheel, just nine colors! One (and only one!) size of pen. One size of eraser. Come to think of it, Draw Something had more choices!

Instead of all those features, you get a gorgeous looking app with tools that have a great feel and work well together.  It’s a great app to grab and just quickly sketch out things.

Here’s a screen shot of the app:

screen shot

I was so excited/intrigued/inspired by the app, that even if I already did my six drawings for my “drawings a day”, I drew three more birds!

I was wondering, can I draw a bird on this? There are only nine colors and the tools are not re-sizable. The first bird on my list to draw was a Snow Goose, so that was easy. That worked!

Snow Goose

It was a hard to fit in all the text. I ended up with more space and less text than I wanted.

My next birds were a Clapper Rail and a Greater Yellowlegs. These birds have more detail and color than the Snow Goose. I’m happy with how my sketches came out! I think that I was able to focus on the important features of the birds. I also like how my sketches look more alive and artsy!

Clapper Rail

Greater Yellowlegs

The question for me is: Will this drawing exercise help me to remember and recognize the actual bird if and when I see it in the US?
Answer: Maybe! It looks a bit cartoony, but I’m having fun and I’m drawing even faster! And, maybe I’ll improve and/or learn how to use the tools better. (Or the devs could upgrade and give us resizable tools!) So, I’m going to keep at this. And maybe I’ll try some of the other drawing apps I have just to compare.

Note: The app is  free to try, but to get all the tools costs $8. The only free tools included are the eraser and fountain pen.

I May See this In Cape May This May

I drew 12 birds in two days! That’s some kind of record for me.

Red-Breasted Merganser –  medium-sized diving duck with a double crest. Prefers salt-water.
And looks like a Grebe!

Red-Breasted Merganser


Common Loon – State bird of Minnesota; appears in “loonie”, a coin of Canada; and famous for its strange yodel and loon laughter!

Sooty Shearwater (sounds like a person’s name) – also known by its Maori name “titi”! Oh, ask someone from the Philippines about that. In New Zealand, the tradition is for young birds tat are about to fledge to be collected from their burros and preserved in SALT. :0

Common Loon and Sooty Shearwater

Northern Gannet – I might have trouble with this one. It looks like a Brown Booby, except that it has less black on the wings and no black on the tail. It’s a very large seabird, 35-40 inches.

Northern Gannet

Draw Something, As Long As It’s Birds!

My trip to the US is one month from now, I was busy birding this month, I wasn’t able to draw everyday ..  I am now in cramming mode! Officially in cramming mode as of yesterday.

The good news is that playing the Draw Something app (available on iPhones, iPads, Ipod touch, and Android) kept my drawing muscles limber! So all of that time spent playing Draw Something did not entirely go to waste!

The last drawing I did before my official cramming mode.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet


The red tuft on the crown is usually inconspicuous unless the birds is aroused.

And now my drawing in cramming mode:

American Wigeon, male

I was very relaxed drawing this duck. Which is a good thing. I WANT to feel relaxed when I draw.  I think I felt relaxed because these North American ducks I am drawing  (especially number 3-12 on my list) look so distinctive that I’m not worried about having problems identifying them.

White-Throated Sparrow Speaking English

I used to find it weird to read bird songs described in words. According to many guidebooks, an American Robin says, “cheerily cheer-up cheerio”! And an Eastern Kingbird says, “kit-kit-kitter-kitter”. The birds are speaking English!! So I found it even weirder to read the calls of Philippine birds ALSO in English! A Large Hawk-Cuckoo in the Philippines calling out “brain-fever” ?  Seems totally inappropriate!

But, American birds speaking in English, I can accept! And the more I listen to the calls (in my iPad birding apps!), the more I appreciate the word descriptions. It makes it easier to remember the calls. I will have to read “The Singing Life of Birds an Intimate Guide to the Private Lives of Birds” by Donald Kroodsma to find out whether these word descriptions really are helpful or not.

Source: via Sylvia on Pinterest

I am willing to bet that Mr. Donald Kroodsma, “reigning authority on the biology of avian vocal behavior” will say word descriptions of songs ARE helpful!

Just listen to the song of the White-throated Sparrow (Zootrichia albicollis). It sings “Poor Sam Peabody” in the most haunting and doleful manner. It breaks my heart! Click on the player below to hear its sad, sad song.
  White-throated Sparrow recorded by Andrew Spencer. This is a link from Xeno Canto.

White-throated Sparrow.

I am so excited to see and hear this bird. I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to recognize it from its song! Even if it looks so huge in my sketch. It looks like our common Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) but with yellow.