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24 minutes ago, IKLland said:

I know it’s a really cool photo, but is this really a four? It’s not crisp,y sharp when you zoom in, and the bird is half hidden. Solid three for me. 
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/390192511

While I agree that this photo doesn't necessitate a 5 star rating according to the eBird/Macaulay rating guidelines, I think there is a pretty substantial artistic element to this pic. There are a vast number of photos on eBird which show a bird in decent to good light and are sharp enough, but lack any sort of artistic element (I'm including all of my own photos in this category as well). However, this photo is taken by someone who leads birding tours for international tour companies, and has their fair share of 5 star ratings on eBird. Simply put, they know what they are doing. For artistic reasons, I gave it 5 stars. IMO, you just don't see many pics like this on eBird.

Also, I mean, whuuut?!?! 

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/278719741

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I still don’t think there’s anything wrong with photos being rated 1-2 stars higher than they should be. eBird workers go through them and physically choose what photos to use in Merlin/birds of the world/etc. So they’d simply just not choose those less than ideal photos or the artistic ones (unless that’s what they were after). 

So I think the discussion is good here on what constitutes a 1/2/3/4/5 star rating and to get opinions on what other people would rate a photo and why, but at the same time I don’t think we should be policing random people’s eBird photos… even though most of the time they are overrated… 

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6 hours ago, DLecy said:

 However, this photo is taken by someone who leads birding tours for international tour companies, and has their fair share of 5 star ratings on eBird. Simply put, they know what they are doing.

Having a history of five-star photos doesn't mean every one is automatically a five.  Andrew Lloyd Weber scored with Cats, Evita, Phantom, and Superstar, but there's a reason most of us have never heard of 'Starlight Express'.

There's too much of this bird obscured.  My personal first criteria is, can I see at least most of the bird, preferably all of it?  4, since a 3.5 isn't possible.

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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11 hours ago, DLecy said:

While I agree that this photo doesn't necessitate a 5 star rating according to the eBird/Macaulay rating guidelines, I think there is a pretty substantial artistic element to this pic. There are a vast number of photos on eBird which show a bird in decent to good light and are sharp enough, but lack any sort of artistic element (I'm including all of my own photos in this category as well). However, this photo is taken by someone who leads birding tours for international tour companies, and has their fair share of 5 star ratings on eBird. Simply put, they know what they are doing. For artistic reasons, I gave it 5 stars. IMO, you just don't see many pics like this on eBird.

Also, I mean, whuuut?!?! 

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/278719741

I look at that persons photos all the time! They’re amazing! But, do you really think you should rate it higher because of the contributors other photos? 
 

 

11 hours ago, DLecy said:

However, this photo is taken by someone who leads birding tours for international tour companies, and has their fair share of 5 star ratings on eBird

I really don’t want to be rude to that person or you. So if you feel like I’m being a little annoying to you, I’m sorry. 

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10 hours ago, IKLland said:

I really don’t want to be rude to that person or you. So if you feel like I’m being a little annoying to you, I’m sorry. 

I don't feel like you are being rude at all. One of the benefits of a rating system is that each individual can rate the photo as they see fit.

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15 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

 Andrew Lloyd Weber scored with Cats, Evita, Phantom, and Superstar, but there's a reason most of us have never heard of 'Starlight Express'.

Michael Jordan played a season of AA Minor League Baseball in '94. He hit .202 and slapped three HRs. While that experiment was deemed an epic failure for him, I know I couldn't make AA ball, and I surely couldn't hit three dingers in double A (I even played in the Colorado 5A State Championship baseball game my junior year of HS). I also couldn't take that photo of the Snowy Plover. 

15 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

There's too much of this bird obscured.  My personal first criteria is, can I see at least most of the bird, preferably all of it?  4, since a 3.5 isn't possible.

I take lots of head shots and portraits of birds, so I have a different view on this. Barbizon for birds, perhaps? 😉

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8 hours ago, DLecy said:

I take lots of head shots and portraits of birds, so I have a different view on this. Barbizon for birds, perhaps? 😉

I had to Google 'Barbizon'.  At first, I thought you'd misspelled 'Barbisol'.

It sounds like I'm looking at Mac for different reasons than you are (and probably others here).  To me, it's primarily an ID tool, the greatest collection of field guide illustrations currently available.  The photo we're discussing is an excellent photo when viewed as photographic art, but for my ID purposes it's severely lacking. 

That's why my ratings consider being able to see the whole bird as a primary factor.  Being able to see details are another.  There are beautiful silhouettes of birds against sunsets, but I'm giving those one star every time.  A shot of mixed shorebirds may be magnificent photography but if it's posted for one species in a dozen others and I have to 'Where's Waldo' it, I'm nixing that too.  I have a few nice shots of my own I haven't uploaded for just those reasons.

I'm after functional from Macaulay.  If it's beautiful too, great, but functional comes first for me as far as rating Mac photos goes.

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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Another thought occurs to me.  Photos uploaded to eBird are added automatically, whether or not the eBird lister wants them on Macaulay whether the lister wants them rated.  I have numerous photos I've added to a list that are horrendous, but they serve to document the presence of a rarity or lifer.  Given the choice, I would not have uploaded them to Mac.

A primary reason to rate photos is to evaluate their use by other Cornell tools.  I've recently been killing lunch time rating any unrated photos.  Most of them are 3 or less, ancient Polaroids or scanned images.  In light of the paragraph above, I may abandon that project.  It may be they were uploaded with no intent of being viewed by others.  I'm not sure if rating a photo low still includes it for use in those tools, as opposed to an unrated photo being not even considered for use.

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^ I’d consider that one a 4. It’s in focus, the full birds on display, and it’s an appealing photo overall. There is noise, but it’s not immediately apparent or overwhelming where details are completely lost, but it’s still diminishing the quality hence the 1 star deduction 🤷🏻‍♂️.

As side note for multiple species, I think those are still helpful in certain circumstances as they provide a comparison or a reference for the focal bird. Whether it be size, or differences in similar looking species, or just showing what other species they associate with… eBird allows you to tag additional species in photos and it states that ratings should only be done based on the quality of the bird that it is being highlighted. 
 

And another side note that I thought was interesting, it appears the eBird edits photos before using them. At first I thought they just did some selective cropping and image flipping, but if you look at the species page for a house wren: 

https://ebird.org/species/houwre
 

and then go look at the original photo on the checklist:

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/56695131
 

It is edited differently too…

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14 hours ago, IKLland said:

Five? It’s a three. There is so much noise, it’s crazy. The bird isn’t that sharp either, cool bird and photo, but nothing special. 
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/390563901

I have no problem with four or five.  

There's another point I want to address.  ("Oh gawds, here he goes again...")  I thought I understood 'noise' but maybe I don't.  This image looks fine to me.  Is the noise only visible if viewed full size?  I don't zoom in to rate photos.  I rate them on how Mac loads them on my monitor with the metadata framing them.  As little as I regard artistic considerations, technical ones come in even lower.  Is it in focus and exposure not losing details without 'pixel peeping'?  Good enough for me.

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