Study Group 2


Bruce Finocchio

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SEPTEMBER 2019 ROUND

Title:    Male Von Der Decken's Hornbill with A Captured Insect In Its Beak
  
Goal:   To capture birds in their natural habitats showing behavior especially under diffused light. 

Equipment / Source:   7D Mark II Camera Body, with a 600 mm IS f4.0 lens with a 1.4x teleconverter at 1/640 sec, f9.0, ISO 1600, Aperture Priority, Evaluative Metering. 

Technique:   Photographing from a Land Rover while on a photographic safari in East Africa. Using a bean bag, placed on the top of the Land Rover, with a small foot bracket so the focusing ring is off the bean bag—handheld.

Processing:   I very subtly worked on the background with small minor adjustments, darkening light areas and lightening some of the dark areas, with control points in Nik Viveza. Blurred the lower left corner of the background a bit. I also slightly increased the contrast of the entire photo with a Levels adjustment. Noise reduction with a mask using Nik Dfine 2 software. 

Comments/Scores (N,T,P,E,Total)

    Critique Image (only members of Study Group Two may critique this image)


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AUGUST 2019 ROUND
Title:    Male Western Bluebird Warms And Dries His Feather In The Sunshine
 
Goal:    To capture a Western Bluebird with wet feathers after a bath. 

Equipment / Source:   7D Mark II Camera Body, with a 600 mm IS f4.0 lens at 1/2000 sec f8.0, ISO 1250, Aperture Priority, Evaluative Metering. 

Technique:   Photographing from a bird blind, twenty to thirty feet from a small pond, a water source to attract birds. My bird photography philosophy is to have birds come to you, rather than trying to stalk them with a camera, as a hunter would. The success rate is much greater, and you’re able to control backgrounds much better too. 

Processing:    I worked on the background, darkening really light areas and lightening some of the dark areas, with control points in Nik Viveza. I also reduced the contrast of the entire photo, since the bright light was a bit strong and harsh. Noise reduction with a mask using Nik Dfine software. A slight crop in order to make the bird a bit bigger in the frame.


Comments/Scores (N,T,P,E, Total)

Critique Image (only members of Study Group Two may critique this image)

Review by commentator Rick C.

A strong capture. The wet and ruffled feathers add to the interest value of this image. While they imply behavior, I do not feel it is strong enough for the 3 level and so rate this as a 2 for a strong environmental portrait.

The technical quality is top shelf in all aspects. The subject is sharper than the branch it is on even though they are in the same relative plane of focus. That said, it doesn’t bother me at all. The technical rating is 3.

The composition is effective as shown. The positioning and slight head turn of the subject bring the viewer right to its eye. The background is very smooth and non-competitive and the viewer always returns to the primary subject. The one nit I might consider is dropping the saturation of the lichen bit near the left edge. There seems to be a second piece right on the edge that would be in the same light but which is nicely muted. I don’t feel the next one down needs to go to that level, but a slight desaturation and darkening would lessen the one thing that might catch a viewer’s eye. I consider this optional and rate the pictorial quality as 3.

I feel this image has the impact and viewer interest that would make it an easy acceptance in most exhibitions. On that basis I am assigning the additional point for extra interest.

N-2, T-3, P-3, E-1 = 9


Review by Louis P

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
magnificent shot! I wonder if this is only a chick because my western bluebird was more elongated and much larger; catching the bird drying itself was masterful

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
excellent in every way; catch light in eye; perfect focus; excellent position; nice background

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 3-Excellent exposure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
very impactful; wish I was there.

SCORE P (Pictorial Quality) 3-Excellent composition and impact

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 9

IF APPLICABLE, WHY DESERVING OF EXTRA POINT FOR EXCELLENCE
what a wonderful image; great bokeh, sharp, bright colors, excellent composition - everything a photographer ever wants!

SCORE E (Exceptional) 1

GRAND TOTAL WITH EXTRA POINT 10


Review by Natalie M

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
It's a lovely portrait. Now it you had captured the bird shaking off the water, I would have given you the 3 points.

SCORE N (Nature) 2-Nature story of average strength (portrait

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Sharp, and beautifully exposed. Beautiful detail in the feathers.

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 3-Excellent exposure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Very nice composition, with the bird looking into the frame, and the soft background makes for a beautiful image.

SCORE P (Pictorial Quality) 3-Excellent composition and impact

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8

IF APPLICABLE, WHY DESERVING OF EXTRA POINT FOR EXCELLENCE
I'm awarding and extra point for taking the effort of setting up the environment in order to "make" the shot, rather than "take" the shot.

SCORE E (Exceptional) 1

GRAND TOTAL WITH EXTRA POINT 9


Review by Andy H

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
The image has a story in the bird having wet feathers. Some preening would improve the story

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I can't fault the technical aspects of the image. Everything is clean and sharp, colours good The 600mm gives a good defused background at f/8 I might have opened the aperture slightly.

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 3-Excellent exposure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The position of the bird and the branch are composed well. As you say you control the background then there's little to distract. Lovely light, catchlight in the eye, full of impact.

SCORE P (Pictorial Quality) 3-Excellent composition and impact

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 9

IF APPLICABLE, WHY DESERVING OF EXTRA POINT FOR EXCELLENCE
The image is so well composed and a pretty but imperfect subject.

SCORE E (Exceptional) 1

GRAND TOTAL WITH EXTRA POINT 10


Review by Dennis H

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Good nature story showing bird drying feathers after bath.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Bird's eye clear and sharp. Excellent colour and detail on feathers and lovely background.

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 3-Excellent exposure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Image certainly has impact. I think a little cropping of the left hand side would enhance image.

SCORE P (Pictorial Quality) 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8


Review by William S

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Bathing and drying is a natural act of birds but it is difficult to see that in this image, even with the ruffeled feathers, maybe if it were standing in the water.


SCORE N (Nature) 2-Nature story of average strength (portrait

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The image is sharp, the background does not compete and the colors are good.

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 3-Excellent exposure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The composition is good and the colors are appealing.

SCORE P (Pictorial Quality) 3-Excellent composition and impact

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8


Review by Janice R

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
beautiful portrait of the western bluebird

SCORE N (Nature) 2-Nature story of average strength (portrait

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Tack sharp portrait of the Western bluebird. Nice color balance, and good dof.

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 3-Excellent exposure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Nice compostion and capture. light spots to right of bird distracting.

SCORE P (Pictorial Quality) 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by MJ S

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Story is ther in the ruffled feathers

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Sharp and pleasing

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 3-Excellent exposure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Good subject and unusual pose

SCORE P (Pictorial Quality) 3-Excellent composition and impact

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 9

IF APPLICABLE, WHY DESERVING OF EXTRA POINT FOR EXCELLENCE
Extra point for patience

SCORE E (Exceptional) 1

GRAND TOTAL WITH EXTRA POINT 10


Review by Martin P

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
As I don't know this bird its hard to observe the behavior of drying its feathers as it appears to be just standing on a branch but I will give you the benefit of the doubt!!

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Image looks sharp, well exposed and has a delightful blurred background

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 3-Excellent exposure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The composition works well with the bird roughly on a 3rd looking into the image. The exposure works well to highlight the bird in the frame as well. Being super picky, I might have darkened down the stick as well. Your processing has worked very well overall though.

SCORE P (Pictorial Quality) 3-Excellent composition and impact

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 9

IF APPLICABLE, WHY DESERVING OF EXTRA POINT FOR EXCELLENCE
I know it is just a "bird on a stick" as they say (which bugs the hell out of me tbh) but I am really enjoying it. I have never seen the species before and you have shown me an excellent specimen

SCORE E (Exceptional) 1

GRAND TOTAL WITH EXTRA POINT 10










I am a wildlife, nature, and scenic photographer. I now live in San Mateo, after spending most of my adult life in Millbrae. I previously worked full-time for Applied Biosystems and Life Technologies as a senior business analyst. I left this position a few years ago to concentrate on my true passion of nature photography. My Dad was a deer hunter and bought some property in Monterey County, so he could have a place of his own to go deer hunting. We have owned this property since 1946. I grew up spending my summers down there, following in my father's footsteps, hunting quail, dove, and black tailed deer--using a b-b gun, graduating up to a powerful hunting rifle. When I was eighteen I had to kill a black-tailed buck up close shooting him in the neck, since my first shot from afar had only wounded him. I saw death up close and personal, deciding from that moment on I didn't not want to be part of death, but to cherish life instead.

My friends and I do a lot of bird photography at my ranch in rural Monterey County, using photo blinds extensively; and recently we have built a few permanent ponds to attract wildlife.

I was a Minolta user, but switched to Canon in 2001. I used to shoot extensively with slide film; now I strictly use digital camera bodies, specifically the Canon 7D and 40D bodies, previously the Canon D1 Mark II and as backup the Canon 20D. I primarily use RAW capture, and process the images in Photoshop. I recently upgraded to CS5, and also have many external hard drives to store my raw files.


Check out Bruce's nature blog at www.brucefinocchio.wordpress.com and his website at www.dreamcatcherimages.net