Great Photography

posted by Jerry Liguori at
on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 

I was out at Farmington Bay a while back and ran into a few photographers. One of them said to me "You know I''m the best wildlife photographer in North America?" I said "oh, congratulations, what is your name?" he mentioned his name, and I said "Oh, I've never heard of you, but thank you for letting me know I met you…I'll definitely remember you now!" I love going out on any given day, and not knowing what you might see or who you might run into. And I love going on the internet and checking out other people's photos, the collection of stunning wildlife images is incredible! And if I spend any time at all looking, I can find thousands of photographers whose pictures I can fall in love with. I am thrilled that photography has grown in leaps and bounds, and that the technology has leveled the playing field for just about everyone. Ironically, last year at the same spot, I met a different man who said he was "the best bird flight photographer in North America." Its a funny world, but a great one when you can meet people with that stature out of the blue.

What makes a good photographer? And what makes a "best" bird photographer?" I don't know...some people simply have more time than others, some people are around more birds than others, some people have better equipment than others, some people know their subjects, some people have an innate skill. I mean, there are so many factors that go into one individuals portfolio. My friend Shyloh bought his first camera just about one year ago, and he has some of the best images I've seen (below)…is he the best -- maybe? This blog gives me the opportunity to showcase a few of Shyloh's pictures here, which I am happy to do, especially since lots of them are raptors. Oh, one last thing, I checked out the websites of the 2 guys who claimed to be the best, and one had image after image of baited birds on his site. Regardless of how you feel about baiting, photography in that manner doesn't take a lot of skill…and there's no debate there! But to each his own…enjoy your enjoys! 
 Red-tailed Hawk
 Red-tailed Hawk
 American Kestrel
 Red-tailed Hawk
 Red-tailed Hawk
 Swainson's Hawk
 Red-tailed Hawk
 Red-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Anonymous Ron Dudley said...

Great tribute to Shyloh, Jerry. He's not only a fine bird photographer but even more importantly he's a top-shelf human being. If we get "bird skunked" on a photo outing one of the few things that can save our morning is running into Shyloh in the field. I couldn't agree more with your take on the relationship between baiting and skill.

January 9, 2014 at 4:11 AM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

Thanks Ron, I agree with everything. And its funny some of the people I run into that are the opposite of Shyloh....but the Shylohs of the world make it worth it.

January 9, 2014 at 7:09 AM  
Blogger Mia McPherson said...

Awesome post Jerry, it is wonderful to see Shyloh's images showcased here. I love getting my Shyloh hugs out in the field and seeing his smiling face! His attitude is contagious too.

January 9, 2014 at 3:22 PM  
Anonymous S. Pearson said...


Did someone really say they are the best flight photographer to you? That's hilarious!

January 9, 2014 at 3:27 PM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

Yes Mia -- He's pretty loveable!

And yes S. Pearson, a gentleman did say that to me, and maybe he is? Just don't know how anyone can judge such a subjective thing, but it made my day to meet someone like that.

January 9, 2014 at 3:32 PM  
Blogger Cathy Sheeter said...

Nice shots Shiloh! I generally find that people that are self proclaimed "best" often are far from it, and at the core usually lack confidence (hence why they try to inflate their ego by boasting). It is when people other than the person themselves are repeatedly telling me how good someone is that I tend to take note. In my opinion there is no such thing as "best" in photography and art anyways... Ask five people and you get five different answers on who is best!

January 9, 2014 at 4:36 PM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

I couldn't have said it better Cathy! Love your comments.

January 9, 2014 at 5:05 PM  
Anonymous Derek Lyon said...

Nice raptor pics Shiloh! I agree 100% with Cathy, she nailed it.

January 10, 2014 at 5:43 AM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

Thanks Derek.

January 10, 2014 at 7:15 AM  
Blogger Vic Berardi said...

Excellent post Jerry! Shyloh's photos are outstanding, love seeing those Western Red-taileds compared to our Easterns we have here in the midwest! Really like the background on the last pic, perfectly complements the look of that bird, very cool!!!

January 10, 2014 at 10:18 AM  
Blogger Thomas Dixon said...

Well done! Those are some incredible images. I think the kestrel shot wouldn't look out of place on the cover of a coffee table book on raptors.

Among other things, I am completely ignorant of the practice of baiting, so I hope someone can help me understand it. Is it frowned upon, because it's considered "cheating" or is there a fear that the birds will associate humans with food, or a combination of these, or some other reason(s)?

January 11, 2014 at 9:53 AM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

Hi Thom:

I guess it depends on who you ask and what their motive is for their reasoning. Baiting has been going on for ages, and it is frowned upon by some and defended by others. One thing is for sure, it won't end, since magazines and book publishers reward photographers by buying photos that are baited, and it is an easier way to photograph birds. The issue goes beyond baiting raptors with mice….there are photographers who bait Herons and shorebirds with fish and other food sources for their photography workshops.

Here are some criticisms I have heard about baiting over the years:

- Photographers bait to get photos for selfish reasons, none of which is to "help" the birds.

- In teaching others this behavior, they may assume going to nests or baiting owls with mice is OK. Or worse, catch owls for pets, or kill them if that is their motive.

- Baiting with live mice may introduce a foreign food source that is possibly diseased, or breeds with the native population

- Many people find photos less desirable when I know they are baited, aren't wildlife shows on TV less desirable when they are set-up?
- Birds are extremely territorial over food sources, and have injured each other fighting over bait. This has been documented.

- When baiting with store-bought chickens, birds become used to "chickens" as food sources and have been caught in baited snap-traps made for other animals resulting in death.

- Baiting helps the weak to survive.

- Birds simply shouldn't see people as food sources.

The one pro I have heard is that people are helping starving birds to survive. I don't argue over the subject, I just listen to people's views and try to take it in.

January 11, 2014 at 11:03 AM  
Blogger Shyloh Monster said...

As the 19,287th greatest bird photographer in America, I'm flattered.

Thanks for the kind words folks. Thanks for the post Jerry. More importantly, thanks for sharing your expertise with me on a regular basis. I'm loving raptors more and more each day. They've enriched my life beyond words.

January 11, 2014 at 3:55 PM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

You got it buddy, same to you!

January 11, 2014 at 3:59 PM  
Anonymous Deb Tracy-Kral said...

Beautiful collection of images, Shyloh. Thanks for sharing them, Jerry!

January 11, 2014 at 5:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some excellent images, Shyloh !! Thanks for sharing, Jerry.

Pete Gustas

January 12, 2014 at 8:22 AM  
Blogger Jeff Cooper said...

Excellent post, Jerry! Good birds and friendship all in one post.

I thought of you yesterday, Shyloh, while I was on a "gulling" field trip with Great Salt Lake Audubon at Farmington Bay. I don't get up there often so I think of the time we hooked up there every time I go. I stopped for a dark-morph Harlan's Hawk and a Rough-legged Hawk while others were in a hurry to scope some distant gulls. I'm easily distracted by the raptors. Jerry keeps feeding my distraction because he's so helpful as I try to hone my skills. Nice job to both of you!!

January 12, 2014 at 8:36 AM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...


You have come a long way in a short time...thanks for your help in sharing all your photos!

January 12, 2014 at 8:52 AM  
Anonymous John Riegsecker said...

Nice photos. I've been following your blog for some time now and enjoy it very much.

I'm taking a "Hawk" class from Bud Anderson and he had some nice things to say about you and recommended your site.

January 12, 2014 at 6:03 PM  
Anonymous Joseph Cala said...


Absolutely agree with most of what has already been said--if you're in the field proclaiming to be 'the best' more than likely you are not. It's also comical when folks think they can spend $10k worth of gear and instantly become a 'professional bird photographer' as if it's a title earned based on the cost of your gear. These are the same types of folks who are too lazy to lay down on the beach to get eye level with shorebirds, or too lazy to crawl 100' across the beach to get Snowy Owl shots.

In response to the baiting issue...I find it interesting that raptor/owl baiting is always such a hot button topic. Folks always say that it's done for selfish reasons and doesn't benefit the birds. Yet nobody has problems with the millions of backyard bird feeders that are up--for the sole benefit of the bird watcher.

What's the difference between setting up several backyard feeders versus tossing some mice out for a hungry owl?

Btw, that can be rhetorical--as that's not the purpose of the blog post. I understand that baiting is taken way too far sometimes, although it is very tempting to bait snowy owls in instead of doing a stalk crawl across the beach. :)

January 12, 2014 at 6:13 PM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

Thanks John

I'm happy to hear you like the blog, and I have much repsect for Bud, he is a driven person and as nice as they get!

January 12, 2014 at 6:16 PM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

Hi Joseph

The baiting thing is similar to feeding songbirds, but it is apples and oranges as the differences are also great. But topics like these (using callers, fake owls, pishing, etc.) need their own discussion because comparing them only leads to a circular agument.

By the way, I appreciate your photos even more knowing how hard you work, and you probably feel more rewarded in doing so!

January 12, 2014 at 6:19 PM  
Blogger Suzi Holt said...

Shyloh is one of the coolest guys I have ever met. A genuine, kind, awesome dude!!! And his wife and dog are the coolest as well! Thanks for all the help you give to me!

January 11, 2016 at 9:12 AM  

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