Study Group 2


Larry Treadwell (C)

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MARCH 2020 ROUND
Title:    Padding the Nest
 
   
Goal:    It is spring in south Florida and the migratory birds are nesting and raising their young so they will be ready for the flight back north when it warms up. I wanted to capture the more colorful male anhinga bringing cypress sprigs back to his mate’s nest.   


Equipment/Source:   I used a Nikon D800 with a 200-400 f4 lens with a tc1.4 attached. This would provide a full frame image with a focal length of 550mm. I used manual mode with the aperture was set to f6.3, the shutter to 1/1500 with an ISO of 800.  

Technique:  I used single spot focusing with the focus spot set slightly to the left side of center since I knew the bird would be flying from left to right as it approached the nest. The camera rig was supported by a monopod with a gimbal head to allow tracking of the incoming bird. I positioned myself with the sun to my back and the wind blowing from camera right to left. I knew the bird would be looking for cypress greens as the main portion of the nest was already built and softer foliage would be needed to pad the nest for the eggs. The nearest cypress trees were to camera left so that as the bird returned he would have to fly INTO the wind forcing reduced speed. I chose a nest that was fairly low so that the background trees would reflect the neutral greens of the foliage in the water while being blurred by the f5.6 setting. This would provide a background that would show some environment and would not just be blank sky. I wanted a photo with the bird carrying green cypress foliage because it would provide more color and more visual impact than just a bare stick. I spent several hours working with this bird. After each trip the bird would rest 10-12 minutes at the nest before taking off to fetch more greens. It would take about 15 minutes before he would return. If he brought back a bare stick, I just waited for the next trip. I had scouted this nest the day before so that I would be there at the ideal time with the light in my favor.

Processing: In post, I straightened the image and made a slight crop in the process. The image shown is about 85% of the full frame. My set up guaranteed this so as to preserve image quality. I brought down some highlights and opened some shadows areas on the bird’s body. There was also a slight increase in vibrance.

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

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FEBRUARY 2020 ROUND

Title:    Sweet Tooth
   
Goal:   The initial goals was to photograph what ever popped out of the brush. However the story line is to document a bear's sweet tooth and love for eating wild berries

Equipment/Source:    Nikon D7200, Nikkor 200x400 f4 lens, TC1.4, ISO 400, F7.1 Shutter speed 1/400, rig hand held while kneeling on one knee with left elbow resting on the raised knee. I was shooting in manual mode, with auto ISO. Use of a wider aperture, say 5.6 would not have provided any separation between the bear and the foliage because the bear was walking IN the foliage and not in open space. Image is from Nikon RAW file.
 
Technique:   On a July morning in the Smoky Mountains I had gone to a meadow to photograph deer in the early morning mist and now that the sun had risen I was heading back to my car walking along the side of a raspberry patch when I notice the raspberry bushes were moving. On a hunch I veered some 50 feet away from the berry patch and moved further out on to the meadow. I noted that the wind was blowing from me toward the berry patch and that the bush movement was parallel to my path. I due to the wind direction, I knew that what ever was moving the brush knew I was there and was more or less moving away. I paused for a moment and as I stood there a black bear emerged from the berry patch, gave me a sideways glance as it continued its walk. I dropped to one to get a more eye level view and started shooting. It was while looking through the lens and shooting that I realized the bear was carrying a raspberry in it mouth. In my burst sequence, this is the second shot, in the third shot the berry was swallowed. The bear vanished into the brush about 3 steps later.

Processing:   
This is about 80% of the full frame. Other than some sharpening, the slight crop to straighten and to bring down the highlights nothing else was done. I chose not to remove the shadows on the bear.

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

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


Review by commentator Dan C.

Your instincts paid off nicely.  Thanks to that raspberry you captured a good nature story.  Not quite as good as if the bear was in the raspberry patch eating the berries but strong anyway.  It makes you wonder why it was walking off with the berry instead of eating it immediately.  That in itself enhances the story because it shows another aspect of black bear behavior not frequently seen.

Technically your overall exposure and sharpness is good.

Pictorially the image is well composed but it could be refined..  You do not need as much of the foliage in the background to tell the story.  I suggest cropping some off the top, bottom and left to put the raspberry in the lower left intersection of thirds.  I agree with your decision not to remove the shadows but you might want to open up the shadow on the ear just enough to show a bit of detail.

N3, T3, P2, E0, Total 8


Review by Robert D

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Your narrative makes great reading.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I would suggest a heavy crop of the foliage so that the bear’s head dominates the picture and focuses on the story. Then you could try to make the eye more visible

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 2-Average exposure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
If corrected an attractive image

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Nirmalya B.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
: In my view the photograph contains nature story in full.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Technically it appears to me as a sharp image with reasonable good exposure (especially when the sun is up above the head and difficult to manage shadows and highlights), Least of processing perhaps helped better in this situation. My only criticisms if at all I need to make is sharpness of the berry and front jaw line of the bear which are appearing sharper than the adjacent foliage at the same focal length.

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 2-Average exposure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
In my observation the subject is occupying lesser space in the canvas in current photograph. As it is a close up shot, I guess the ambiance could have been avoided specially in the front portion giving more emphasis on the subject itself by cropping.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Linda C

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
The picture did not look real. One reason is that there were no other berries in the bushes.

SCORE N (Nature) 1-Nature story minimal or contains unrelated hand of man

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The berry has white spots on it which I had to look closely at as I thought the berry had white spots on it.

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 2-Average exposure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Would have liked to see more of the bear, especially eyes.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 5


Review by Rick D.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
The environmental aspect is very natural and is a normal setting for wildlife.


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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The colors green and black with the red berry work good together. The amount sharpening brings out the texture of the bears coat very well.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
This is one of those shots that seems almost too good to be true! It is the product of preparedness and good timing. Well done, Mr. Photographer! This photo does what many portraits (and other pictures) often fail to do. It tells a story: the story of a bear doing what bears do. They eat berries! That’s a very good element of this photo. Unfortunately, it also falls victim to what all wildlife photographers deal with-the practically total inability to pose our subjects. Obviously, we do not operate in the controlled environment of a studio. The picture lacks one very important quality that any excellent portrait posses. It is the catch light in at least one eye. Had the bear merely turned her/his head slightly in the proper direction, that quality probably would have been added. A close and unavoidable miss. Another point is the overexposed foliage in the foreground. It probably could have been, at least to some degree, corrected in the edit. Perhaps a very mild vignette would help.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Adrian B

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Hi Larry - A pleasing image rather than a startling one, would be my summary. The fruit of course is very small in the frame and I suggest it takes a little time for that first look by a new viewer to spot it.

Once studied the image, one can see the story, but the story is IMHO not hugely strong.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
You have done well to show good detail within the bear's fur, but the ear is providing state which is unfortunate.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
In addition to my above comment, the bear's eye is only just open. This does not help the image to have much interest to the viewer. As indicated, it remains though a pleasing image which I would keep for own consumption within a group covering a particular travel experience.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Suman B.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
initially I was skeptical of the profile shot of the bear but then the strawberry struct me and a 3 is popped in my head as it completes a nature story so benignly.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
your choice of the 7.1 aperture instead of 5.6 is well appreciated. As well as ISO and use of the makeshift knee tripod does show the instant reflexes of a mature wild-lifer. I also appreciate your choice of not lightening the shadows as it represents a time of the shooting.

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 2-Average exposure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
the left approach indeed is the best pov perhaps under the situation.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8

IF APPLICABLE, WHY DESERVING OF EXTRA POINT FOR EXCELLENCE
that nature does hold beauty in the eyes of the beholder is seen here. a simple berry elevets the show to a new hight.

SCORE E (Exceptional) 1

GRAND TOTAL WITH EXTRA POINT 9


Review by Bogdan B

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
The red berry in the mouth is good natural story.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The bear is sharp, but also grass in foreground and background is too sharp. I would prefer F5,6.

Some grasses are very bright. You should burn them a little bit.

Dark shadows on the bear are too dark.

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 2-Average exposure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I think, you don't need so much neck and so much grasses in front. The photo is somehow central. I would make it 3:4 or square.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7

I am retired and living the good life in south Florida.  I have always had a love affair with the wilderness and the natural world.  This naturally lead to an interest in photography to bring home memories from my adventures in the wilderness.  I have thus been involved in photography for more than 40 years and have worked as a semi-professional including work for the PGA and LPGA as well as shooting sports for various local colleges. 

My favorite photographic locations are Everglades National Park (the hardest place I’ve ever found to photograph), the Great Smoky Mountains and Rocky Mountain National Park.  That said, I will go anywhere to get a good image.  I enjoy shooting the Milky Way and the night sky, a real challenge, and I enjoy using long exposures.  

I have taught photography on the college level, belong to several local camera groups and have served as a photo judge at local clubs and for other local competitions.  Since retiring I have had several photographic exhibits in south Florida.

I am member of the online group called The Nikonians and shoot Nikon cameras currently using a D800 and D810.  While I have a collection of Nikon only lenses my favorites are my 24-70 and my baby, a 200-400 f4 beast that weighs 7.3 pounds.   My hiking buddy is my tripod that goes everywhere I do.