Sunday, 4 April 2010

What is the Most Popular branch of Nature Photography? – An Analysis

Two weeks back I had posted about the BBC`s Photo Masterclass series being made available for download. Each of the series was essentially on a particular type of nature photography and in that post, I had provided direct links to each file linked to its keyword.

That post was picked up by some of the internets more popular websites like Lifehacker, Petapixel, Gizmodo (Brazil) etc and was also featured on a lot of Photography forums including DPreview, Dyxum, Shutterpoint, AVforum, Dynax Digital and several other forums. This website had a sudden increase in traffic and saw thousands of visitors pouring in and downloading the sheets using the links provided on this site.

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This gave me a unique opportunity to keep tabs on which link was being downloaded the most. I use the analytical software Woopra, which is a fabulous piece of software. It allowed be to keep tabs on which of the links were being downloaded and how many times. Now sitting here in the UK , having just completed my PhD viva successfully, I`m waiting for the Easter holidays to finish so that I can print, bind and submit my final thesis before heading back home. Meanwhile being a Phd, I thought I`d play around with some of the data obtained from Woopra. So here goes. The following categories were linked to on the page including :

Landscape Photography, Mammal Portrait Photography, Plant Portrait Photography, Sunrise and Sunset Photography, Underwater Photography, Invertebrate Portraits, Birds in Flight Photography, Animals in their Environment, Bird Portraits, Reptiles and Amphibian Photography, Abstract nature Photography, Wet Weather Wildlife, Cold Weather Wildlife, Black and White Nature Photography, Urban and Garden Wildlife Photography, Zoo Photography, Bird Behaviour Photography, Mammal Behaviour Photography, Extreme Close-Up Photography, Innovative Wildlife Photography and Natural Crisis Photography.

With so many different niches to choose from, it was only natural for people to choose the ones that interest them the most and maybe ignore the rest (although quite a number downloaded all sheets) . This provided me a unique opportunity to find out which type of nature photography was the most popular among the internet users accessing this blog , which I am assuming is a subsection of an internet audience with a specialised interest in photography. I share with you, the results below:

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Clearly Landscape photography takes a huge lead and emerges as the most sought after category. Although, I must take into account that it was the first link on the page and thus was most likely to have been visited, out of pure curiosity. However, since the lead is more than double the next category, I think we can safely conclude that it was out of choice. I`m not surprised at finding the above result, as landscapes are not only closely associated with photography, they also remain an easily accessible subject. The requirement for specialised lens and lighting remain minimal unless specialising within the area, drawing everyone from the beginner to the expert to try his or her hand at it.

The second most popular result was for Sunrise and Sunset photography. I suppose i shouldn’t be too surprised at the result as this branch can basically be considered an extension of landscape photography, yet I hadn’t expected people to be so interested in this niche within a niche.

Close behind is the area often covered on this blog – Extreme close-up photography or Macro photography. I suppose I could include Invertebrate portrait photography too under Macro photography. I know from what I’ve seen on forums and blogs that macro is a very popular area. People seem to want to try and do macro photography and use everything from close-up filters, to bellows, to lens reversing to bellows and true macro lenses. I guess a lot of lens manufacturers seem to exploit this popularity by labelling normal lenses as “MACRO” when they cannot actually reproduce a 1:1 sized image.

Birds in flight is another very popular area, and so much so that it is more popular than the comparatively easier Bird portrait photography . BIF photography requires fast lenses and birds in general call for longer focal length and as we all know when long and fast combine in the world of lenses, it means only one thing – expensive! In-spite of this, bird photography remains ever so popular and when the figures for the above two niches are combined with that of Bird behaviour photography, it becomes, perhaps the most popular catergory with 13.8% of the popularity.

Mammal portrait together with Mammal behaviour photography is not too far behind, and why not? Who would not reach for the camera upon spotting a wild animal, be it a fox or a deer or the more exotic mammals such as leopards and tigers. However, with this category, getting your subject to come within camera range, let alone model for you can be quite a task.

Plant portrait photography is an interesting area which follows the leaders. Flowering plants make for great images and often tend to become macro images. However, there is a whole world of challenging photography revolving around plant portraits and interest in it remains comparatively high.

Other forms of photography such as Zoo photography, Black and white nature photography, Natural crisis photography, Urban and garden wildlife and Cold and Wet weather wildlife photography, are less popular but I suppose these areas are either too specialised or already figure and a specialised branch within the earlier categories. I`m surprised Reptile photography isn't more popular but it seems to bring up the rear end along with Underwater photography, but I suppose its explained by a general lack of access to the reptilian subjects just as the requirement for specialised equipment would explain for underwater photography.

I realise that the nature of fragmentation within the above niches leads to a division of votes. For example, bird and mammal photography has been covered under at least three different headings. Extreme close up and invertebrate photography can be clubbed under macro photography and that landscape and sunrise/sunset photography can be taken as a general scenery photography. Therefore I`ve taken the liberty of redistributing and clubbing some of the the data under different headings:

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I realise that the order may follow peoples aspirations more than what they are actually doing but  Its mostly about what captures peoples imagination the most as well as what subjects are most accessible to be photographed. The data available or the means of collection or even the sampling method used was by no means comprehensive or scientifically designed but I think its enough to make broad conclusions and I made best use of the data that I have and from the results it appears that photographing sceneries is the most popular type of nature photography, followed by Bird photography, Macro photography , mammal photography, Plant and Reptile photography , in that order.

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