Study Group 2


Robert Davis, PPSA (B)

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JUNE 2020 ROUND

Title:    Caracara mating display 

Goal:   Taken while on a birding trip on a South Texas ranch close to the Rio Grande

Equipment/Source:     Canon 5DS. 600mm. Wimberly head. Tripod

Technique:   1/1250. f9. ISO640. Spot metering. This is a unique but strange posture by a male looking for a mate. 

Processing:    Photoshop. Slight increase in contrast and brightening.

Score this image: YES

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

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

Review by commentator Rick C.
Nature story - The fact that the reason behind the display is not readily apparent to the typical viewer holds the strength of the nature story back. That said, the unusual posture would very likely add significantly to the interest value for the average viewer.

Technical quality - There is good detail in the feathers. The facial area seems a little on the soft side. The overall image seems over saturated and over processed. The latter comment based on the facial area around the eye and the very granular look to the stump. There is also a yellow cast showing in both the brown feathers and the greens of the background foliage. The whites in the throat and the stump are on the verge of clipping out, The Red channel is already compromised in those areas.

Pictorial quality – The image has excellent impact. I feel the sense of it being over saturated and slightly over processed would hold it back, but that may be overcome by the unusual pose of the subject/ The framing is overly tight in my estimation and that could well be an issue with some judges.

The over saturation and color cast are significant factors. The near clipping in some of the whites is also in play. The overall score is a 7 despite the unusual pose for this subject.


Review by Rick D.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Very interesting and unusual photo! Good job in being there and being ready to shoot!

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Very nice DOF. The bird is well positioned in the photo. Nice catch light in the eye. My only concern is that the lights are a little blown out. This should a fairly easy fix with LR’s adjustment brush.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
This is truly a novelty of a shot. Add one that I am sure greatly pleased you. However, as unique as it is, I do not find the pose to be pleasing to the eye.

SCORE 7


Review by Rich F

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
This image shows the caracara in a mating pose. I assume this is done only certain times of the year. Interesting pose.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The image is exposed. Robert, please check your monitor setting and use a test image.
Here is a great place to start - http://www.outbackphoto.com/printinginsights/pi048/essay.html

The neck white feather are blown out and the yellow on the front leg looks over exposed to me. The feathers on the back of the bird look excellent to me.

The choice of F9 may have allowed too much DOF. The would have liked to see the background more blurred.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
You did not say but I assume you were shooting from a blind. If not moving a bit to your right would have positioned the bird in front of a wall of green versus the blue sky to right.

Also might have cropped a bit off the bottom and included a bit more above the bird (assuming you had the larger image to start with).

SCORE 6


Review by Dave F.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
This is a very acrobatic Caracara as he is reaching back.

SCORE N (Nature) - 2


TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The image is sharp and good DOF but it appears the white feathers are a bit blown out.

SCORE T (Technical Quality) - 2


PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I like the display of the Caracara but I think he is too much centered in the image.

SCORE P (Pictorial Quality) - 2


SCORE 6


Review by Todd G

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Your story depicts mating rituals, for which I am not familiar with. Sometimes this bird is call the “Mexican Eagle.” The ritual displayed here is unique. These are migratory birds to Central and South America with some scattering into the southern US.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The tripod is thy friend indeed. Very strong detail in the overall capture. There is some blurriness to the head/beak/eye and from the image; your focal point with tact sharpness appears to be along the leading edge of the wing and body. The background is nicely bokah’d really bring ing out the caracara. The stump has some whitewash to it, and decreasing the highlights with a radial gradient may help bring this down a bit. The neck of the bird is also too white and washed out. Exposure, brightness, highlights may bring this down. Regarding the sharpness of the head and eye, adding an additional stop down to f/11 then changing your focal point to the eye, may have made this really pop. There is a nice dynamic range present.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Overall, a very nice image. Composition is presented well. There is not much from an impact stance that I can depict.

SCORE 6


Review by Saswati C

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Lovely and unique posture of the Caracara grants it a good nature story.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Perfect focus, but over exposed shot.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Good framing. But not a very good processing, shot is over saturated and over exposed.

SCORE 7


Review by Bruce F

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Based on the feather pattern and plumage, this appears to be a recent fledgling. Body pose is interesting and does suggest preparing for flight. The face and eye are well shown. This information adds to the nature story or elevates it above a standard portrait. In nature category the rules do prohibit cloning out of items. Dodging them down is permissible.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The image has little noise and the dabbled lighting is well handled. I would have toned down the branches around the stump. I would have also lighted the dark green areas i n the right top background. Melt or the tone down this area and darken the light green background areas so your color and tone are similar. The darkness of the green is so prominent it takes the mind away and distracts from your bird subject. Overall goal, making local adjustments to even out the lighting and reduce its harshness, especially on the branches.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I wondering if a horizontal framing would have worked better and emphasized the bird and the given more room for flight, enhancing the flight story. Especially since the bird is leaning out with its rump up, and the way the feet are gripping the stump all suggest ready and preparing to fly. The vertical framing of the image emphasizes the tree stump instead. My choice would have been to choose a horizontal framing and composition rather than the vertical framing presented. It would have simplified the image by including less of the stump and the disturbing branches. 
SCORE 7


Review by Bruce F

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
The nature story is all about the head thrown back during the courtship. The slight open beak helps too, suggesting the bird had been calling out. More than a standard portrait with this mating behavior captured.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Strong direct sunlight and the absence of shadows fully illuminate the bird's plumage well. Exposure is good, noise absent.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Center framing on the horizontal axis works well here. Vertical framing is a good choice. I might have used f7.1 to blur the backgr ound mor e. Or in post-processing reduce the contrast of the background creating greater separation between the background and the bird. Or in the field placing the perch with the background farther away. For my taste, the background is too busy. I believe a cleaner and more diffused background would emphasize the bird and its behavior better, strengthening the nature story.

SCORE 8











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MAY 2020 ROUND
Title:   Rhino roadblock  
 
   
Goal:    Exploring the Kruger National Park to see the Big 5. Came across this crash of rhinos who obviously owned the road. 

Equipment/Source:   Canon 5D3. 24-106. Hand-held. ISO400,f7.1,1/250

Technique:   Handheld 

Processing:   PS Sharpened with slight increase in contrast.

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

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

Review by commentator Rick C.
While one could argue that having the rhinos in the road was adaptive behavior since they were there before the road was, the presence of an individual in the image drops it out of the definition of a nature photograph. In this case it would be better suited to either photo-travel or photo-journalism. The nature rating is 0.

Focus is fine, but there is a massive amount of color noise as evidence by the splotchy patterns in the person, seat and rhinos themselves. There is a significant cyan shift in the sky and tree bark and a cyan fringing around the leaves where they meet the sky. This may be uncorrected chromatic aberration. The technical rating is 1.

The composition is reasonable for the scene depicted. There is a merger with the individual’s arm and the horn of the first rhino, but no effective way of avoiding that without endangering yourself. The pictorial rating is 3.

N-0, T-1, P-3 = 4


Review by Rich F

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
This is a crash of white rhino on the road. It looks like early morning which may explain why several of the rhinos are lying on the road.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
This image looks over processed to me. The colors are oversaturated and look blotchy.

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 1-Inadequate exposure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
shooting in a safari vehicle can be difficult but the image would have benefit if the photographer can slide to right to seperate the front rhino from the tracker.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 5


Review by Adrian B

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Robert - this is a better travel shot than a Nature one as I do not think one is allowed people in pictures except in exceptional circumstances. I am sure you all had fun when you found this!

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I find your PP work has created what I would call an unbelievable situation. It is far to vivid and Nature shots are supposed to represent what the lighting etc was there at the time

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 1-Inadequate exposure color balance and shar pness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
A fun image

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 4


Review by Kim H.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Good story. The person in the photo helps explain the situation.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The enhanced saturation takes away from the realism. There is too much green.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE


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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8


Review by Tom K

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Fun shot. Good nature story.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
It just apppears that the image is in focus, but it is of such low quality that it is abstracted like a water color.

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 1-Inadequate exposure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I think that this image would do well as a vertical with the person on the left cropped out.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Andy H

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
What a great opportunity to come across. Its fairly obvious that we have a little more than the Hand of Man in the image! Other people, especially photographers can be a nuisance.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Technically the image appears to be of very poor quality. Your settings all seem fine so something has happened to the image between taking it and putting it up on the site.

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 1-Inadequate exposure color balance and sharpness< br>
< strong>PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Opportunity had great potential.

SCORE P (Pictorial Quality) 1-Inadequate composition and impact

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 3


Review by Dennis H

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Interesting capture of rhinos on track. Unfortunately I believe this image does not comply with the nature definition.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Image has noise throughout.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Person on left hand side and noise detract from image.

SCORE P (Pictorial Quality) 1-Inadequate composition and impact

TOTAL BASIC S CORE 4


Review by Larry T

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
As an image entered in a nature category this does not work. The introduction of “man” to the image takes it out of the true nature story.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The image is sharp and appears to be properly exposed. The colors seem to be over saturated, but that has to do with processing. This gives the image a sort of over cook feeling.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
For me the processing of this just seems to be over done. There seems to be a bit of halo effect around the tree branches. This is most likely the result of over processing (too much contrast). While the hand (or body) of man should not be in the image, the manner in which the man is crammed into the lower left corner feel awkward. Due to the fact that the man is wearing alight blue jacket he seems to be the most dominate object in the frame. The eye is drawn to the brightest part of the image and the blue jacket works like a magnet and pulls the eye away from the rhinos. The excessive contract and what appears to be color saturation certainly makes the sky look over done.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 5


Review by Malena K.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Some may not agree with man being in the photo however I feel it gives the story more impact. It shows the rhinos are in the road and you won't be passing thru quickly.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Color looks like a little too much saturation.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Composition is good.

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

TOTAL BA SIC SCORE 7


Review by Todd G

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
There does not seem to be much in the nature of this story. Rhinos on the road and in the grass would likely be very typical. The animals do not appear to be demonstrating any significant behavior or attitudes.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
here does not seem to be much in the nature of this story. Rhinos on the road and in the grass would likely be very typical. The animals do not appear to be demonstrating any significant behavior or attitudes. Score: 1

SCORE T (Technical Qualit y)

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Unfortunately, this is not a strong compositional image. The individual in front of your camera is distracting and my eye automatically goes to them every time.

SCORE P (Pictorial Quality) 1-Inadequate composition and impact

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 3


Review by Pamela L.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
I like the adding the guy in the picture, complete the story

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
N/A

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Excellent composition and impact

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE: 7


Review by Bruce F

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
A good story where the hand of man makes an appearance. Good for a journalism story, but not for a natural nature story. Many animals do use roads to lie down on, within game reserves and national parks, becoming a familiar scene nowadays. With the inclusion of the landrover and the person, I think these items disqualify the image for nature. You might want to check with the rules.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The color of this image is garishly oversaturated. I think you went overboa rd on th e color saturation. These blues are not natural. There are color spots on the rhinos’ hides. The back of the seat has color noise too. Go back and reduce the saturation and the color noise. Also, the image lacks a crisp sharpness. The Canon 5d Mark III is getting a little long in the tooth. However, I think the lack of sharpness is with the lens and the overprocessing. You don’t say the make and model of the lens, older zoom lenses have sharpness issues.

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 1-Inadequate exposure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I don’t like the merger of the closest rhino’s horn with the person on the vehicle. It appears to hook right into her body. I would try to notice these type of issue while I am composing the picture. The road creates depth to the image and that’s a good aspect. Personally, I think this is more of a journalistic image than a natural one. Fix th e techni cal issues, and enter it in journalism.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 5

Bob Davis was born in Johannesburg South Africa and educated there and in London, Edinburgh and New York. He has retired from being a surgeon in Houston Texas for many years. After the busy years of hard work, he joined the Houston Photographic Society and is now its President. He is fascinated by all forms of photography especially nature. He mainly utilizes Canon equipment and is trying hard to keep up with recent software advances.