Project: Snap Count

Greetings All! Sorry for the long delay in getting another post out – although in my defense I did exceed my quota last month.  I actually got through the January posts fairly early in the month which gave me time to work on a new project, Yeah!  A lot of my projects are a result of stumbling on something on the Internet and deciding that it would be sufficient challenge to put energy towards.  The goal always being to embrace the concept and then extend it to another level.  This project source was a little different – I stol… err embraced an idea from my brother Ron.  So, credit goes to him for motivating to get this endeavor done.

With no further delay, I am proud to announce the start of my Photography Bird Life List.

Bird List

The actual gallery can be located on our Eddiesoft Photography Gallery powered by Smugmug (link here).  The link should take you directly into the root of the gallery.  From a project perspective, this has to be one of the more tedious and time consuming ones I’ve taken on.  It sure sounded simple when Ron brought up the idea.  Simply have a gallery of shots for each of the birds on the life list.  The intent is to focus on the “best shots” of the species from a “Birders” perspective.  Anytime I was able to improve on a shot I would simply swap it out with the better version.  That sounds great unless you have a LOT of bird shots (as you would expect I do if you spend any time on this blog at all).  The issue isn’t so much the overall amount as it is having to choose which of your babies gets the honor of being the featured image on the gallery. The more common the bird the harder the task since there are typically more shots to choose from.  I clarified that this gallery was intended to have a Birder’s approach.  That simply means it would attempt to demonstrate the overall characteristics of the species.  Various angles, settings, genders, seasonal differences etc. would be included when available.  I did try to include what I consider my “best” overall shot which took a long time due to having to gather up all the photos of a particular bird and proceed to whittle away until I was comfortable with the shots to upload.  Note, in some cases this was easier because there I were only one or two shots and trust me, not all of them are ummm.. good.  Over time those crap shots should get weeded out.

Hit the jump to read more about the List

The basic format follows:

Bird List

Each entry in the Bird Life List will have the common name, the scientific name, the gender/adult/juvi status if known, the location and finally the year-month when it was taken.  This was another time consuming part of the project.  Once I had the images uploaded I had to go back into the archives and get the required meta-data.  The overall process took several weeks to get a majority of the birds I’ve shot loaded up. Big thanks to my brother and even some individuals I didn’t know who took the time to provide feedback on the shots.  It became obvious that there needed to be a mechanism to easily identify when the gallery had an update.  During the initial load I went in alphabetical order of the bird species I had.  All I needed to do was provide a number of the unique birds on the list and the new ones could always be found at the end.  While going back and filling in some gaps it became apparent that these mid list changes would be difficult to locate.  I still do not have a good answer for this, but for now I will put up the number of unique birds along with the name of the birds that were added/updated.  The birds will be in alphabetical order because the sort order is based on the caption.

Bird List

I cut the initial load off at 101 just to put a stake in the ground.  Oh, almost forgot to mention – a bird doesn’t make it on my life list unless a) I have at least one picture of it and b) it has been featured on this blog.  That means the 101 birds on there now had already been processed.  There are plenty of additional birds I still need to get to in the queue and even processed ones that haven’t made it to the blog yet.  The latter is probably in the 10-15 range and my quick review of the archives would put the former in at least the 20-25 range.

A couple of observations that came out of this effort:

  • I was deficient in keeping my life list updated.  Found out a number of birds were not properly checked off – surprisingly some common ones like the Northern Cardinal and the Black-Capped Chickadee.
  • In some cases I only had crappy shots of very common birds – in the field I’m usually hunting for something new and don’t give the proper attention to the easy ones.  The plan is to clean that up this Summer to get rid of the embarrassing shots that had to be put up there in the time being.
  • My cataloging process needs to be improved.  I will not go into detail, but the processed images were scattered about different folders that mimicked the gallery structure on Smugmug – that way if it was lost, it could be easily uploaded again.  Unfortunately, this resulted in tracking down birds captured on vacations, those in the water , medium size, small size, etc. galleries.   My local stores are now officially cataloged by bird species!
  • It is pretty amazing how much you can remember about your vacations when going through the captures.

So there you have it.  It was definitely a lot of work but worth it.  I hope you enjoy the list and feel free to check it out from time to time because it will be continually updated as new images are processed.  Big thanks to Ron for kickstarting this project although I probably texted him after every long night of cataloging accusing him of trying to kill me – ha!

6 thoughts on “Project: Snap Count”

  1. Yes, I received constant accusations of trying to work you to death, but your Photography Bird Life List looks great! As anyone who reads this blog can tell, some of your photographs are reference book quality. Your list has already been a good reference when I’ve needed to identify a bird in my photo collection.

    I’ve been thinking about how to identify the most recent photos uploaded to your Smugmug gallery. One option is to add a keyword to the photos to identify when they were uploaded, such as January2015. Then instead of listing all the new birds in the “title slide” at the front you could just list the keyword for the most recent update, or the most recent few updates. People could then search keywords for earlier months if they want, assuming the keywords have a common format as in my example. It doesn’t look like you can list all the keywords that a gallery is using, which is too bad, so you have to search by manually entering a keyword.

    Another option is to keep a list of birds and their photo upload dates (sorted by upload date with the most recent on top) on a webpage somewhere on your site, with links into your Smugmug gallery. It could be in a blog post that you update as you upload more birds, although that post will become more hidden over time. You could add a text field along the right side of this blog using the theme tools that includes a permanent link to that blog post or webpage list.

    Anyway, congratulations on your new Photography Bird Life List! I still claim I took all the photos at the Fort Myers lagoon, though. Except the blurry ones taken by you.

    Ron

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  2. Here’s another suggestion so people can find your newest photos, and it can be done in parallel with the suggestions in my comment above.

    First you add a common keyword to all your photos in your life list gallery, such as lifelist. You can easily add a keyword to every photo in a gallery by going to selecting Organize, then Select All, then the wrench icon and then entering a keyword to apply to all photos in the gallery. When a user does a Search on Photos and enters that keyword, all the photos in that gallery will then be displayed. At that point there is a pull-down menu displayed at the top that allows you to sort them, and in this case the user can sort by Newest First.

    In the title slide of your gallery you could give the keyword to search and the instruction to sort by Newest First. NOTE: In playing with this I found that it took about several minutes for newly added keywords to be searchable, which was confusing for a while.

    Ron

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  3. Wow, them be some long comments! Thanks for the tips. I’ll try out the keyword idea – never used that before so this should be interesting. I was thinking about having a standard blog post I keep updating with the changes so I could keep a running log of the changes (which by the way I already a bunch of updates to make but have to get them added to the blog first – I think I need about 2 more hours per day – unfortunately already in the midst of training season which is eating in to the available hours). As far as Ft Myers goes.. I still have some of your shots from that shoot … do you really want me to post those for you?

    Thanks for the ideas – will see what I can do — still need to get the analytics flag on there as well.

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  4. I just added the keyword idea to all the photos with the tags – Birds. BirdList, BirdListNA (to differentiate when I get my international birds up or add in the captive category), Wildlife. First thing to not is you need to put a comma between the keywords or it thinks it is one long keyword .. which in my opinion defies the definition of a keyWORD. Once I got that fixed, the search worked perfectly and the Newest sort order immediately brought the new ones to the top – AWESOME – thanks for the tremendous help!

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  5. I think the use of Latin Species name is a bit over the top.. And though it may be hard, I would stick to single picture of each bird or maybe M/F…

    Also from a personal perspective, it may be worth while tracking the “seen but not cataloged” birds.. maybe as a trigger to go get that shot of birds you know are out there.

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  6. The original intent was to have one per bird, but a) found it waaaay to hard to pick my favorite and in some cases my best picture didn’t really show off a distinct feature in order to confirm it was the actual bird being referenced. After a long discussions with my brother we opted for multiple shots and so far that has pretty much been the case for all the birds on the list.

    Good idea about the general sight tracking. I think I’ll go ahead and mark the list with another symbol to represent that condition. By the way, I took a picture of two adult Bald Eagles on my way home tonight – they were sitting in a field together at the Equestrian entrance to Jubilee State Park – They have been hanging around out here for a couple of weeks now – strange since there isn’t really any fish filled water bodies to feed on – guessing they are field foraging.

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