Study Group 2


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

Click image to enlarge

Upload Image and Description for next round
JULY ROUND

Title:   
Greater Spotted Woodpecker Feeding Chick 

Goal:    For several years, almost to the day, these woodpeckers have been coming in to my feeders. My goal is to get them onto more natural backgrounds and I prepare for them every year. The woodpeckers don't play the game and love to use the end of my old wooden bench as a perch. Its is the Hand of Man but they don't know PSA Nature rules so I take what the give me. One day they'll oblige and use one of my natural perched.
    
Equipment / Source:    Canon 1DX MkII
EF 400mm f/2.8 L IS II USM
Monopod
Clean Window Glass
The images are taken through my kitchen window and the birds are about 6 feet away.
ISO 800 400mm f/2.8 1/1000 sec
 
Technique: 
  I'm an early riser so I get into the kitchen and ban anyone else from entering. I keep the lights off. If the window is dirty I go out and clean it so as to get the best chance of a clean image.
Then its a matter of standing and waiting. If they come in the visit tends to last for about 3 to 5 mins and they tend to appear 3 times a day for about 5 days so plenty of opportunities. 

Processing:   
LR Classic
Tweak Auto Tone
Some texture and clarity
Sharpen with mask
A little vignetting  

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


JUNE 2019 ROUND
Title:  Golden Eagle and Chick 
   
Goal:    I am about to revisit these eagles and it remained me of a couple of images taken in past years. My goal was to capture an image of a Golden Eagle at the nest with chicks. On this occasion I was very fortunate to gain access to a hide that was only about 30m from the nest and in an elevated position. The nest contained two chicks about 4 months old and the parents were kept busy bringing in hares for the chicks to eat. The nest was covered with partially eaten hares and one of the parents spent time on each visit tidying up the carnage.

I have tried this image in Salons developed in various ways but it has not been very successful, not sure why, perhaps someone can help.

Equipment / Source:   Canon 1DX
400mm f/2-8 IS II USM + Ext 1.4x III
ISO 3200
560mm
f/4
1/640sec 

Technique:  I entered the hide at about 4:30pm, after a 30min drive and 15 min climb through the forest. The hide was very small and didn't leave much room for my set up. I put up two tripods, one with the stills set up and another with another camera set for video. I run the video set up for periods of a minute or so, every so often, on the off chance of capturing something. It usually works and did in this case.

I set everything up and checked settings, due to the failing light settings are checked every 10 mins.
Then it's a matter of waiting. I was very lucky and both parents came in on four visits to the nest. They don't stay long, average time about 2 to 3 mins and there gone to find more hares. After about five hours the activity dies down and the light has faded so I pack up and head down to the Land Rover. 

Processing:  Lightroom Classic. Usual sharpening and exposure changes. I've had to isolate the pair by lightening the subject and toning down the busy background. Difficult to make the birds stand out with such a busy background/  

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

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

Review by commentator Rick C.

The story is clear and strong. I felt your adjustments did help the subjects to separate more effectively without looking unnatural.

Primary focus looks fine to me. You noted trying several different methods of sharpening. I did download the image and check it at 200% and it did look very slightly soft. I tried the new Topaz Sharpen AI on the Sharpen option and it did improve that aspect in my opinion. That said, I would mask any additional sharpening to just the subjects and the branches / nest elements on which they are standing. The exposure on the primary subjects looked fine for the lighting you had.

Compositionally it is a little centered and therefore static. I realize that part of the story is in the nest, but I feel you could crop up from the bottom about half way to the adult’s foot without losing a sense of that element. The crop would improve the visual tension in the image. I would also try doing slightly more dodging at a low opacity on the chick’s head and facial area and, potentially, on its meal as well. Other than that, I felt the adjustments you have made all look entirely reasonable.

N-2, T-3, P-2 = 8 (P-2 A slight crop up from the bottom and dodging of the chick’s head should improve the visual strength slightly.)


Review by Janice R.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
This is an interesting shot and I'm impressed that you got both birds facing you! I like the position of the parent looking over the shoulder of the chick. A very universal "parental behavior.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-positive nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The image is a bit busy but you couldn't help that. I wonder if you tried different DoF's to blur out some of the background. Also, the parent seems a bit soft. You went to a lot of effort to get this image. I'm impressed.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
A nice capture of Golden Eagle family

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8


Review by Prasad D.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Excellent nature image depicting the habitat and the feeding of these birds.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-positive nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
In the situation this seems to be the best you have done.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The composition should have been tighter. and probably you could have checked some prespective to avoid the clutter of branches and would have choosen a clearer background. But as you said it was unavoidable this seems good to me.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Rich F.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Very interesting story of parent feed its chick. Also the difference in feather color is noticable (and the bill and feet color of the young and adult are the same, unlike bald eagles. You story of the blind was interesting to read.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-positive nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The image is well exposed and composed. The white feathers are not blown out and there is good shadow detail.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
well done though I have trimmed a bit off the top and bottom.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 9

IF APPLICABLE, WHY DESERVING OF EXTRA POINT FOR EXCELLENCE
If the image had been trimmed on the top and bottom I would have awarded an excellence point


Review by Natalie M.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
2 birds at the nest, one engaged in activity certainly conveys a nature story.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-positive nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Appears sharp and well-exposed, background highlights well controlled.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I wonder if it's the fact that the birds blend in to the busy background that has limited its success on the competition circuit. Not really much that can be done about this in this case, however, as you have no real choice in positioning yourself for the shot.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8


Review by Dennis H.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
You've gone to a lot of time and effort to obtain this image of golden eagles feeding their young.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-positive nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Good colour and detail on righthand eagle. Left hand eagle appears a little soft on head and it's difficult to see what it's doing.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I think the composition could be improved by cropping top and bottom of image which would focus more on the birds.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7



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.