Hooray for bad photographs!!

A certain friend of mine continually emails blur-tastic photos of various natural history subjects, the

Hippodamia convergens

Hippodamia convergens

photographs are merely to communicate and do that job well. Another friend takes excellent photographs that discourage most people from ever picking up a camera but inspire entomologic love. There are many sites that will tell you how to take good photographs, but today I am going to encourage you to take bad photographs and share them. There are numerous citizen science projects like: BAMONA, Odonata Central, and Lost Ladybug Project that would be very pleased to share your very bad nature photography. I know that

Coccinella septempunctata

Coccinella septempunctata

Rebecca at the Lost Ladybug Project seems to be absolutely thrilled to get the data (and eyestrain) from my terrible photos.  These photographs are really bad, but they are good enough to serve as documentation. Some readers will be appalled that I would take, post, and encourage bad photographs – I should strive for excellence. Actually, I have a limited amount of excellence and I am saving it for something really important.

Sometimes your photos will be so poor as to be

Olla v-nigrum

Olla v-nigrum

useless. For me these are typically taken during Christmas Bird Counts and serve as the documentation for a rare bird report. I have also taken really bad photos of dragonflies for Odonata Central and some real stinkers of moths for BAMONA – I bet I can take bad photos of almost any taxon. Sure bigfoot-quality photographs may not be the most pleasing to look at, but they can be valuable assets to citizen science projects. An additional benefit to taking lots of bad photos is the practice may eventually help you to take decent photos.

Harmonia axyridis

Harmonia axyridis

I used to use my cell phone for 95% of my picture taking. Now I use an old compact camera with sand in the lens mechanism that requires use of a knife to pry the lens in place to begin shooting. I took all of the photographs in this post with my cell phone and submitted them to Rebecca at Lost Ladybug Project. Rebecca was able to confirm the identity of the insects in the photos (because of her super powers) and now these photos are part of the data set. (Were you able to identify all of the ladybugs?)

There is a big wide world out there in need of photo documentation, so get out there and take some really bad photographs. AND don’t forget to share your photos with citizen science projects, they really do benefit from your bad photos. In my role as Idaho State Coordinator for BAMONA, I have seen some really bad photos that have been identifiable and have seen some really good photos I could not identify. I look forward to seeing your bad photography in the future, and won’t be too disappointed as it improves with practice.


11 thoughts on “Hooray for bad photographs!!

  1. George Sims

    Even though I wasn’t mentioned DIRECTLY by name (although the link was a giveaway), I have finally realized that the human brain can hold only SO MUCH information. If I were to learn (or CARE) about photography, I’d probably have to dump the lyrics to every song ever recorded between 1960 and 1975 to make room. Besides, Michaelangelo and Leonardo were a pretty crummy photographer, too, I’ll bet! (The artists, NOT the turtles!)

  2. biologistsoup Post author

    Actually George your photographs are among my favorites! Whenever I look at your photos I imagine you jumping up and down with excitement unable to hold still long enough to allow the photons to hit a stationary CCD CMOS chip and record a good image. Compared to Ted we all suck, but your photos are real and do communicate, so they are good enough. That was the entire purpose of the blog posting – to celebrate bad photography!


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