Skepticism

Idea: Fund to Send Cryptozoologists to Photography Class

For the record, I love the idea of Bigfoot and Nessie and (my personal favorite) Champy the Lake Monster. And I love the fact that there are people out there who seriously, fervently believe that these things exist and that they will be the intrepid explorers to finally gather the needed evidence. I love that people are doing these things instead of, say, enacting anti-choice legislation or writing gossip columns about Lindsay Lohan.

But for real you guys, someone needs to teach these people how to take a photograph.
The most recent entrant in the Terrible Photo of a Possibly Mythical Primate Contest 2011 comes from Todd Standing of the Sylvanic Bigfoot Group. Todd and his team of “researchers” claim to have found the Valley of the Bigfoot in lovely Banff, Alberta, and according to “>this article, “Standing boasts a collection of sharp video clips and crisp photographs of Bigfoot, showing far, far more than the usual hirsute primate dashing behind the nearest bush.” Great! Let’s take a look!

Okay, so, you’ve captured a really great close-up of those twigs. I mean, those twigs are in super-sharp focus, and I can definitely tell that they are twigs. Here’s a thing they might mention in a decent photography class, maybe even on the first day in the first ten minutes or so: try to make sure your subject is in focus. Not the twigs in front of your subject.

Let’s look at some of the video they got:

Whoa, did you see that bit at the end? The bit that was in clear focus and it was very easy to tell that it wasn’t a man in a monkey costume? The bit with the chimps? THAT IS HOW YOU SHOOT VIDEO, Bigfoot scienticians. I mean, I know that you’re in some pretty thick forest there, but there are tons of wildlife photographers who do a pretty good job of getting decent pics of things gamboling amongst the trees. I bet that if you took one of them to a place that was chock full of Bigfoot, they could probably manage to hold a camera steady for the five seconds required to get a picture. Why? Because they have studied the art and science of photography. And you can, too!

So I’m thinking that regardless of whether or not Bigfoot exists, these people could really benefit from at least a local adult education class on basic photography. Should we start a fund? I don’t know. I’m just trying to help, here.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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19 Comments

  1. “I think Bigfoot is blurry, that’s the problem. It’s not the photographer’s fault. Bigfoot is blurry, and that’s extra scary to me. There’s a large, out-of-focus monster roaming the countryside. Run, he’s fuzzy, get out of here.”

    -Mitch Hedberg

  2. Yea, right, what we really need is another government takeover. I don’t need Big Photo telling me what I can and cannot do with my camera. (#sarcasm)

    On a related note, I have my own pet project to amend the U.S. Constitution by doing a search and replace of the word “arms” to “cameras.”

  3. Don’t you DARE go after Lindsay Lohan, or the gossip writers/bloggers/photographers who have made a cottage industry of following her nipples around…

    Wait, maybe that’s the answer! Kill three birds with one stone, drop Lindsay Lohan and the paparazzi into the woods, and maybe Bigfoot will photobomb the hell out of those pictures. It is worth a shot, even if all that happens is Lohan and a bunch of paparazzi wind up in the hospital from exposure and/or serious drug withdrawal.

    Also, and this is meant in the nicest possible way, if Lindsay Lohan had actually been raised by Bigfoot, she might have actually turned out better. Just saying…

  4. Seriously, that still is the result of using autofocus. Who among sane people who actually want to get a clear picture of a given animal in the woods (mind you, that is a loaded caveat) uses autofocus in that circumstance? You use manual focus and you learn to grab and twist that lens thingy, and for that matter you learn how to guesstimate how much to twist for quick shots at a few different distances.

    It may not be easy, but rocket science it is not.

  5. This would be perfect for a Kickstarter. One of the top-tier donation gifts could be that you get to travel with them on their Bigfoot expedition! On the lower tiers, you just get high quality prints of the photos, etc.

    Now we just have to find a Bigfoot researcher willing to go along with it.

  6. In regards to the photo, I suspect that the hoaxer, I mean Cryptozoologist knows plenty about photography.

    In order to achieve the shallow depth of field required to have the twigs in focus and the subjects VERY close in front and behind of the twigs out of focus in an outdoor daylight shot, you would need the aperture set VERY wide (~f2 or better)and the shutter speed set VERY fast (minimum of 1/2000 sec and more like 1/4000+) as well as possibly requiring a dark filter as well. The aperture required to achieve this shallow depth of field would require a “standard” (non-zoom 1X portrait) lens and preclude the use of a telephoto lens, thus meaning it would likely have to be taken at very close distance.

    This adds up to a likely carefully staged shot that doesn’t hold up to very basic photographic analysis.

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