Study Group 2


Andrew Hayes, PPSA, ARPS, EFIAP/b, DPAGB· - (B)

Click image to enlarge




NOT PARTICIPATING IN THE OCTOBER ROUND



Upload Image and Description for next round


OCTOBER 2019 ROUND
Title:   
   
Goal:    
Equipment / Source:  

Technique:   

Processing:   

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

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


Upload Image and Description for next round
SEPTEMBER ROUND
Title:    Dipper Fishing

Goal:    I wanted to get an image of this dipper fishing for food of swimming in the water. Would have been nice to get one with food in its beak.
    
Equipment / Source:    Canon 1DX MkII
EF 400 f/2.8
ISO 2000
f/5.6
1/320sec
Tripod
 
Technique: 
  I am lucky to have dippers nesting under a bridge on a small burn by my house. I regularly walk the burn to watch the dipper and look for tell tale signs of fishing locations, usually poop on the stones. I often go out early morning or late evening to see if I can capture an image or two. The light is difficult due to time of day and overhanging tree and shrubs. I often find a known fishing spot and camouflage myself and wait for my subject to appear. Ive considered fill flash to help with the poor light but not tried it yet.

Processing:  
LR The main problem is trying to get the bird to stand out so a lot of localised dodging and burning, Usual sharpening and added texture.

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 I feel you have definitely captured a sense of the story for this subject, if a viewer lacks familiarity with it, they will likely not appreciate the pose as one of watching for movement prior to dropping under the water to capture an aquatic insect or similar prey. If it did have the prey already in its bill, the story would be much more obvious / clear to the average viewer. On that basis I am scoring it as a nature value of 2 as a strong environmental portrait.

The core technical aspects look good to me. Primary focus is on the subject, it has good sharpness and the depth of field is appropriate, even if it is not a total blur. The exposure looks reasonable for the lighting, though it is a little tough to judge exactly given the post capture tonal adjustments. Watch how hard you push your light tones. There is a fairly sizable patch of the white throat feathers where you have pushed it to 253 – 255. Keep in mind you will lose detail on anything pushed past 250. If you want to double check that, look at the blue channel in that area and compare it to what you can see in the red channel. The blue channel has lost a lot of detail. The green channel isn’t as bad. I am scoring technical quality as a 3 anyway since that loss is more likely due to overdoing the dodging in post and should be correctable.

I like the basic composition as it has a lot of dynamic tension. I do feel you have gone too heavy on the burning in, particularly around the edges, and it has become noticeable and in doing so, is less realistic / natural in appearance. Remember that having all adjustments looking natural is one of the underlying keys to what is allowed. I don’t feel it would be a DQ for “manipulated” but it is obvious enough that I feel it would be scored down based on what I see in the internationals when I judge. The other linked aspect is the buildup in saturation and contrast that results whenever we darken things heavily. The saturation in the stream is actually competing with the Dipper. I’m sending along a modified version where I have dropped saturation and contrast other than on the Dipper and its rock and then a little added desaturation and darkening on the plants in the upper left. While the composition is good, you are in one of those gray areas where the question is where do I crop even though I know I will always have some edge issue. The two elements coming in from the top and that one leftmost plant were enough of a distraction that I went a bit more radical than you on cropping in a bit tighter. It isn’t a cure by any means, but I did find it to be a little less disruptive. Because of the over saturation and contrast I am scoring the pictorial at 2.

N-2, T-3, P-2 = 7


Review by Larry T

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
You have submitted a quite beautiful portrait of the unique bird perched in its environment. I can’t help but think you almost know what I’m going to say. In fact you mention my thoughts in your write up when you state “Would have been nice to get one with food in its beak.” As shown, there is only a limited feeling of a nature story that being the bird in its environment. Diving into the water, food in its beak these are the elements that would provide the nature story.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
From a technical standpoint you seem to ha e almost everything correct. Your rig is on a tripod (did you use a cable?), you have situated yourself low to get nearly eye level and you have used settings which yield a near perfect image. To me the image looks a bit soft—I know you have stellar gear so I wonder if the softness is due to downsizing or is that shutter just a bit too slow for a little bird that probably fidgets’ ?? I’ve checked the image in expanded view and the eye appears soft. Now to the part where I help you spend your money. You have already invested heavily in that excellent lens and I know the lens has a slot for a circular polarizer which sells in the USA at B&H Photography for $230. A small investment after the cost of the lens. When I look at the image there is a tremendous amount of glare on highlights in the water. These become a distracting element because they are one of the brightest parts of the image. I feel the polarizer may help reduce this. I realize it would limit light but I can’t help but wonder if dropping the aperture (f4) and increasing the ISO (2500) might not off set this? Just a final thought. When you took this frame did you shoot in burst mode? I’ve found that in burst mode often the second or third frame is sharper than the first. Just a thought.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The basic composition of the image works well. You have positioned the bird on the left fixation points and both the bird and the rock where it perches are two of the three bright spots in the image and so attract the eye of the viewer. You state you are trying to do selective dodging to make the bird stand out so I have two suggestions. Using Lightroom may I suggest using a GND filter on a diagonal in the upper left corner to gradually fade the green plants in the corner? Secondly, may I suggest using a radial filter, adjusted in size, to cover the bright spot in the water and thus bring the brightness down a bit. If you use the radial filter with a wide feather the result would allow the viewer to still see through the water but by darkening that area it would also have the effect of making the bird stand out a bit more? Perhaps you could even brighten the bird using the adjustment brush slightly?

I do applaud your efforts but this is a shot you could venture out to try again as you mention you frequent this area.


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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Dennis H

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Nice nature study of dipper looking for food.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The bird has good colour and detail, although patch on breast is a little blown out. Eye clear and sharp.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Bird a little hard to see with competing white speckles on water.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Natalie M

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Nice environmental portrait, unfortunately no action on this occasion to get the extra point.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
You have done well in the difficult lighting conditions. It will be challenging freezing the action with a faster shutter speed when you do see it actively fishing so a flash is likely a good thing to consider.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Nicely composed, unfortunately the impact is lacking, purely because of the way the bird blends in so well with the environment.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Martin P

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Nicely presented picture of a bird on a rock in a stream.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Bird looks sharp and well exposed overall, but I am wondering about the feather detail in the white breast at the top

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Nice background colours, bird presented approximately on a 3rd which works. Background does compete with the bird though.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 5


Review by Louis P

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
totally a nature image; average because it is a portrait

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
very nice considering limited light; bird is well positioned and looking into photo; also includes a catch-light in eye; I will give it a 2 because you made the same error I make, namely shooting with a mid-range aperture such that the background is quite clear and distracting; I think that you could have shot it with a more wide-open lens.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
good composition and impact,

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Bruce F

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
What an unusual Dipper! I have never seen this species before, the white throat and the duel scaling on the back and the brown head are remarkable, along with the bronze breast stripe. The image does show Dipper habitat extremely well; they live in this streamside environment, and hardly leave it. It would good to learn the particular dipper species and that should be included in the nature title. Showing a Dipper in the water with its head underneath the surface, breeding or mating, or an aquatic insect in its beak would increase the nature story value. However, in my experience, this type of image would be difficult. It would require hours of observation and lots of patience, photographing from a hide or blind. Since this bird is on your property, I would use a blind.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Sharpness is adequate on the bird and the rock where it is perched. Although, I would like the subject to be a bit sharper, and would work to pull it out, with the new texture slider in Photoshop and with targeted sharpening.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The highlights in the water in the background are problematic. Even the green water plants add another bright color add to the background, both draw the mind away from the subject. Using a blind mention above, you could place the background where the stream is in shadow, and controlling the background by your positioning of the blind. I think this is a key aspect of creating a stronger and cleaner background and improving the pictorial aspects.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6









.





Biography

I was born in Prestwick, Scotland and travelled to many parts of the world with my father who was in the Royal Air Force. Now living in historic village of Fettercairn in Kincardineshire, Scotland with my wife Hilary and 'Smokey' the cat. Semi retired construction industry owner and business consultant. Grampian representative of the Royal Photographic Society, member of Brechin Photographic Society. (Est 1888), Dundee Photographic Society, a Scottish Photographic Federation Judge & Speaker and PSA Scottish Liaison Officer and Membership Director. Much of my photography was aviation photography but about 15 years ago I returned to Wildlife photography, mostly in Scotland, but with annual trips to Kenya and India.