Winners and Finalist

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Bird in Focus (BIF) in cooperation with Wild Bird Photographers of the Philippines (WBPP)

Grand Winner:
Philippine Trogon

by Ramon Quisumbing

Superb bird, super-sharp, lovely light, a good head angle, a nice perch, and a pleasing image design.
– Art Morris

Nice eye-level shot with excellent eye-contact – not easy with trogons. Excellent exposure of reds and blacks and good details. Nice clean and green background.
– Bjorn Olesen

Philippine Trogon by Ramon Quisumbing, taken at Mt. Bulusan, Sorsogon on 23 March 2016, Canon 1DX camera, Canon 600 mm Series II lens, Canon 1.4x TC, tripod, 840 mm, F/5.6, ISO-1600, 1/800 second, from 24 meters.

1st Runner Up:
Guaiabero

by Kirkamon Cabello

Sharp, interesting behavior, beautiful bird, perfect head angle, clean background, and a nice image design.
– Art Morris

This GUAIABERO never gets bothered with the hassle around, too hungry to focus on much more important agenda. Hillsborough Subdivision Cagayan De Oro City, Misamis Oriental Philippines. Nikon D810 | VR 200-500mm ƒ5.6E | ISO2000 |1/100s| JAN-09-2019. Kirkamon Cabello: My passion tends to focus on nature and its environment, particularly wild Birds photography that are translatable into wonderful pictorial representations.

2nd Runner Up:
Long-tailed Nightjar

by Floyd Bermejo

These are difficult to do well. I love the excellent flash technique, the head angle, the black-as- night background, and the simple image design with the bird well back in the frame.
– Art Morris

Night Watch – Large tailed Nightjar, taken at Puerto Princesa City, Palawan on March 8, 2018. 1/3 secs.. f/6.3. iso2000, by Floyd P. Bermejo, a pilot who does birding as a way to relieve the daily stress of work.

3rd Runner Up:
Brown-breasted Kingfisher

by Lawrence Advincula

I love the fabulous setting with the ferns, the soft light, and the grey background. The near merge of the background fern and the top of the kingfisher’s head keep this from placing higher. A bit of a move to thephotographer’s left would have helped.
– Art Morris

Brown-breasted Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis), Tabaco City Albay Province, May 29, 2018, ISO 2,000 | f 6.3 | 1/2000 @ 600mm. Lawrence Advincula: On the way down from Mayon resthouse I was scanning the bushes for birds and I noticed two BBKF hunting for food. I stopped the car and set my exposure for BIF. I tried several times to get a good BIF but failed, then 1 of the BBKF perched on a wild fern and stayed there and posed for several
minutes.

3rd Runner Up:
Frogmouth

by Winfred Paler

There are lots of negatives here — the filtered (mixed) light, the patches light sky, and the lack of space below the birds. But the sharpness and cuteness factors more than make up for those. This would have placed higher had the photographer chosen to turn the camera on end and created a vertical.
– Art Morris

This is my favourite image. Not often you see images of frogmouths from the side angle. I like the expression of both the adult, and the concerned juvenile. Nicely in focus where it matters, although the habitat is a bit messy, in this case it adds value.
– Bjorn Olesen

Frogmouth by Winfred Paler, Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park, Bukidnon, Nikon D850, 600mm, 1/100 f/5.6 ISO3200, March 30, 2019 This shot is dedicated to Dr. Miguel David de Leon who guided us personally to get a picture of this bird described by the Kennedy guide book as uncommon. We have been talking over the phone with Migs for some time now but it was on a breezy and sunny morning of March 28, 2019 that marked the first time I’ve met him in person. This happened after several attempts to visit CDO to honor his invite but were unfortunately cancelled as I have to attend to some business errands. This was even after the fact that I have already bought my tickets. This earned me from my colleague friends a monicker of being an “indian” a local slang word for always saying yes to an invite but never fulfilling it. Thus, after a week of planning, together with Jonet Carpio, a WBPP Org member and resident artist, we pushed through with our travel plans to meet this person who has gained some kind of a cult following because of his amazing work in the field of conservation. MiguelDavid de Leon, and please take note of his christian name as its purposely joined together, and meant to be used as one name, was born in the Zodiac sign of Scorpio. I don’t really believe in these things but it jibes some description about him. For instance, he has a very caring nature which is almost saintly and is evident in how he deals with his house members and other persons who have less in life. And I thought this caring attitude stops there as this is even extended to the flora and fauna which he is silently and lovingly doing his research without fanfare. As he often said, he is happiest when the things he does for everybody makes them happy. It could be the reason why he took up medicine in U.P. specializing in Opthalmology perhaps to help people see better the beauty of life and its surrounding. During the 2 nights that we stayed in Cagayan de Oro, we stayed in Migs’ place lovingly called the House of the Rustling Leaves. Its surroundings are planted with different kinds of flowering trees, like Bauhinias now in full red bloom, which constrasted beautifully with the gray paint of his house or the reddish pink kalachuchi which he said was a gift from Queen Sirikit.

And bamboos too abound that when the wind blows and caresses the tree’s leaves, the ensuing rustle is liken to a falling rain that lulls anyone to a restful sleep. Entering the house, one can immediately feel a sense of peacefulness. To one’s right is a beautiful pond planted with water lilies while at the far end there’s an adjoining pond that was made like a gurgling brook that feeds to a small pond where many colorful koi swims. And birds too were freely whirring in and out, without any fear that even a skittish Black Naped Monarch was happily taking a bath in this pond. Beside the house is a structure called Mews duly accredited by DENR where many injured raptors were treated and rehabilitated of their injuries under the care of Migs’ Return Flights Raptor facility free of charge, a testament to his boundless generosity. Going further into the house, one enters a hallway where a picture of a juvenile eagle called Pamarayeg and taken by Migs himself, greets a visitor! While an original illustrations of birds that were used in the Kennedy’s guide book hanged on both sides of the wall. And to complete this feast of the senses, an original Picasso sketch of a dove that were used for some U.N. campaign, hangs on a corner. And one is wonderfully aware that when he steps inside the hallway, he is walking on a wooden plank that seemingly floats over an imagined water abundantly littered with white pebbles gathered from a faraway beach. Entering the sala to one’s left and resting on a soft sofa custom made by a popular designer from Cebu, one is immediately treated to a view of an atrium like big rectangular space strewn with white pebbles that one is suddenly transported to some distant shores. And to one’s right is the dining room where a big solid thick Narra plank table awaits the visitor to dine. As the house is impeccably and tastefully decorated, one can immediately feels the warmth in the literal sense as beautiful native woods is abundantly used. Even the bedrooms floor, let me guess here, is made of some planks of ipil wood or narra as they looked alike is an open invite to walk barefoot. In musing, I can see that the House of the Rustling Leaves reflects the man who designed it. Like a man who embraces people without any hesitation from all walks of life. The house too is like that, all embracing, all warmth, and above all, all heart. And its precisely like that because the house was designed by Migs himself, a saviour of many raptors and other kinds of birds and discoverer of new orchids that scientifically bears his name. And when the time to say goodbye came, I can only say a murmur of prayers to God to keep this man safe and to protect him from any harm.

Finalist:
Little Egret and Black Crowned Night Heron (Immature)

by Raniel Jose Castaneda

I love the serenity here and the water with the mirror-like reflections. And I love herons, egrets, and night-herons. While it is hard to judge image quality from JPEGs, there is posterization in the blue water.
– Art Morris

Stands out from all the other entries. A bit over saturated for my personal taste. Although the subjects are right in the middle, somehow it works well here. A good example: keep it simple, it works. Cannot quite judge the technical quality, but an outstanding photo with good shadow details and reflection.
– Bjorn Olesen

Little Egret and Black Crowned Night Heron (Immature) by Raniel Jose Castaneda, Nikon D750 with 200mm-500mm @500mm, ISO-100, f/5.6, 1/800sec., LPPCHEA Freedom Island.

Finalist:
Blue-tailed Bee-Eater

by Daniel Galvan

The beautiful subjects and flowers and the soft light in this image are surreally gorgeous. If the bird in the back had had its head turned toward us, this would have been the winning image. Paying attention to head angle is of huge importance.
– Art Morris

Blue-tailed Bee-Eater by Daniel Galvan, Carabao Center, Los Bańos, Laguna, April 7, 2018, Composite of two digital pictures taken on the same date at the same location.

Finalist:
Violet Cuckoo

by Ramon Quisumbing

Here we have a sharp, well lit image of a beautiful bird with a sweet background. But, as I state in The Art of Bird Photography II, a strong vertical element in the center of a horizontal photograph will almost always be an image-killer. And that is the case here.
– Art Morris

Violet Cuckoo by Ramon Quisumbing, taken at Baras, Rizal on 9 March 2017, Canon 1DX camera, Canon 600 mm Series II lens, Canon 1.4x TC, tripod, 840 mm, F/5.6, ISO-1250, 1/1250 second, from 7 meters.

Finalist:
Flaming Sunbird (Female)

by Ralf Nabong

Another beautiful bird with nice light and a killer-sweet background. The out-of-focus flower on the lower left frame-edge is very distracting. A horizontal with bird in the lower left corner would have saved the day.
– Art Morris

The Pose – It looks like it was posing for the camera, but it just took a breather to check if there are other flowers she
can feed on. Flaming Sunbird (Female) by Ralf Nabong, Real, Quezon, November 16, 2018.

Finalist:
Narcissus Flycatcher

by Daniel Galvan

Another sharp beautiful bird but the face needed to be opened up (lightened). The varied background is distracting as is the lower, out-of-focus part of the otherwise attractive perch.
– Art Morris

Narcissus Flycatcher by Daniel Galvan, Male, Butterfly Garden, Camp John Hay, Baguio City, November 14, 2017.

Finalist:
Spotted Kestrel

by Ramon Quisumbing

Sharp with a good basic image design but the background Bokeh is distracting and having the second bird hidden been several rocks is less than ideal.
– Art Morris

Spotted Kestrel by Ramon Quisumbing, Male and Female breeding pair with prey, taken at General Santos City, Mindanao on 11 November 2016, Canon 5DSR camera, Canon 600 mm Series II lens, Canon 2x TC, tripod, 1200 mm, F/8, ISO-500, 1/1000 second, from 88 meters.

Finalist:
Writhed Hornbill

by Winfred Paler

Sharp gorgeous birds in soft light. At the least, this should have been a vertical. The fact that the rear bird is partially hidden by a branch and its tail merges with the lower bird cannot be overlooked.
– Art Morris

Nice pair, and details also in the blacks. Clean background and good colour saturation. Too tightly “cropped” for both male and female hornbills. Female hornbill a bit obscured by male and branch.
– Bjorn Olesen

Writhed Hornbill by Winfred Paler. Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park, Bukidnon, : Nikon D5, 800mm, 1/250 f/8 ISO800, June 05, 2019. A journey of thanksgiving. It started with a faint and raspy nasal sound which was repeated a few seconds later. As it echoed feebly, the wind carried it. Our lead guide Datu cupped his ear and excitedly blurted out, Kalaw! At that time, we were busy shooting other birds but his words struck us like thunder and we stood up in rapt attention. Datu was in his 70’s and frail looking person but the way he moves belied his age. His face was sunburnt with deep lines of creases perhaps carved and etched with life’s battles and hardships but beautifully scarred with the passage of time. As he energetically hacked the thick foliage with his prized jungle bolo, the glint of his steel caught the sun rays like a reflected mirror. It must have taken him a good 15minutes before he was able to clear a path. As we followed him excitedly, the track abruptly ended on a ledge as the sound of the bird becoming louder. As we gaped to a wide vista of Kitanglad’s grand mountain range, montane forest and cool tablelands, we saw a lone tree that stood majestically on a slope leading to a wild river that became white water as it raged ferociously downward. The solitary tree was laden with yellow red berries where early morning dews clung to the fruits. As gaps of clouds broke momentarily, shafts of light shone through illuminating the dews creating thousands of tiny and melee diamonds that dazzled the eyes. Unnoticed, inside of the tree’s thick canopy, was a flock of Writhed hornbill busily eating the fruits. Its occasional cackling only betrayed its presence as it stayed hidden. As we waited for the birds to come into full view, I contented myself by taking some headshots where its very prominent blazing red horns competed with the color of the fruits! Then it emerged calling repeatedly, its booming sound amplified by its hollow spongy casque echoed in the mountain sides. And it attracted another flock. As I photographed the Writhed hornbill with so much excitement, a certain elation overcame my being. And it seemed to me that at very moment, I heard the songs of the forest. And as I listened to its song, the chirping of the birds chimed in, while in the air floated the tense yearnings of the cicadas, contrasted only by the silent supplication of a praying mantis. Then I found myself saying a prayer that calmed my restless heart. Its echoing heartbeat became a reverent whispers that cascaded into a thunder of praise, for the Supreme being that created all these things.