Study Group 2


Louis Paley - (D)

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JUNE 2020 ROUND

Title:     Tree Stump Cow Head

Goal:    Passed this beautiful stump at least 50 times enroute to shoot bald eagles; finally brought short, faster glass lens sufficient to take this image in relatively dim lighting. My goal was to show the detail, curves, and texture of this "cow head", including the touch of natural lighting near its eye.
 
Equipment/Source:     Sony a6000 with Sony 18-200mm 3.5-6.3 zoom lens, set at 68mm, F7.1, 1/100 sec, Aperture Priority, Multi-segment Metering Mode, EV=0, shot in RAW.
 
Technique:  Hand-held camera while moving to different positions to optimize the detail around its eye and face without getting too many bright spots in the background

Processing: 
 Used LR 6 to crop and adjust sharpness and lighting.

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 J.D.
Hi Louis. What a nature story! Out walking in the wood and come across a fallen tree that looks a cow head. Not only very rare, but a so much fun. I know this had to put a smile on your face.
On the technical side, after spending a lot of time going over this photo, I think a simple “dodge” bump of the entire “tree” would have made the “cow head” have more impact. Using a little localized sharpening on just the “cow head” would have helped to.
Cropping – Cropping – Cropping! This is a very tough photograph to crop. I would suggest that you slight crop it a little larger. Not a lot! Just a little larger. This photograph probably wouldn’t do well in an international competition due to the speed of judging. On the other hand, print it to a 11x14 and put it where there is some good natural light on it during the day. You will have something that will make you smile when you see it in that light.


Review by Haru N.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
You found the nice subject, which shows history of nature. It looks like head of dinosaur for me. You achieved the goal mentioned, texture and detail is well-presented. This is "the history" of nature.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Adequate sharpness and good lighting. I am not sure that actual color of the wood but I feel it's a bit blueish in my view.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Composition wise, it is good and simple to present cow head in main subject as center of attention. I was wondering if you use wide lens side rather than 68mm selected. I assume that way bring more dynamic and stronger impact on the image. 

SCORE 7  


Review by Janice R

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
I have to say, if you hadn't titled this as the cow, I would't have seen it. I too love the curves in the old wood, the black areas on this make me wonder if it was involved in a fire? Other than this being a broken tree stump, I don't see a strong nature story here.
Nature=1

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The image is sharp enough to show the detail in much of the wood which Ilike. However, to me the foreground and background elements are distracting and I wonder if a different larger aperture would have kept the log in focus but decreased the focus on the foliage? color balance is good.
technical score = 2

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
In my opinion this log probably had more impact in person than it does in the picture. For me, it just really doesn't come to life. pictorial score=1

SCORE 4


Review by MJ S

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Not sure of story but if aging wood, then the textures are the telling elements

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Good sharpness and depth of field

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
subject centered

SCORE 6


 Review by Charlie Y

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
interesting image of a stationary tree stump. wish was taken in a different angle, to show the decay or age of the tree stump, thus more of nature story. As it stand, a proper portrait, less of nature impact.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
adequate exposure, contrast, in the woods. texture and lines are interesting,

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
though it's nice composition, comforting to see, I'd darken a bit of the under stump area.
Note: this is a different scoring and review. still getting used to.

SCORE 5


Review by Natalie M

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
It's interesting when you see shapes within objects. However I'm just not sure if there is a story there.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
You have done a good job to get this shot in the high contrast conditions.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Well seen, nicely composed, but lacks impact due to the busy surrounds.

SCORE 5


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MAY 2020 ROUND
Title:   Red Fox with Prey
     
Goal:    I began watching this red fox and her kits today. Hoped to get a clear, sharp shot of mother bring home her prey.

Equipment/Source:   Sony a6500 cropped mirrorless camera with 150-600mm Sigma Contemporary lens on tripod and gimbal head. Settings were 900mm (Equiv), 1/500, ISO of 800,F 7.1, Aperture Priority and EV=-0.7, multi-segment metering.

Technique:   had to position camera at 30 yards and below tree branches to get clear view.

Processing:    Used LR6 to crop and adjust color, sharpness, etc

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 patience paid off, allowing you to capture an excellent nature story that also contains a bit of mystery.  The expression on the vixen’s face makes you wonder what has her concerned.  The story value of the image earns it a 3 for nature.

Technically the lighting contrast has caused you problems.  Your exposure on the vixen is good but the direct sunlight in the background has caused this area to pull attention from the fox and latch on to the blown highlight on the tree bark.  It has also washed out the fur texture on the fox’s tail.  The adjusted version I included corrects most of this with selective use of Nik Viveza but it would be even better working with the original raw capture. The simulated jpeg to raw but Topaz did not do the trick there.  It would also be better with a slightly greater depth of field on capture since the tail and hind-quarter are going a bit soft.  Topaz Sharpen AI was able to add more depth.  I will have to give you a 2 for technical.

Pictorially your cropping to concentrate the viewer on the vixen and her prey was a good idea but in execution it was a bit too tight.  I did do my normal flipping horizontal and decided it did not work for this image.  It did make the squirrel show up better but all the visual lines of motion were strongly out of the image at the right.  Another 2 for pictorial for cropping too tight.

N3, T2, P2, E0, Total 7


Review by Rick D.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Hi Louis. I am fairly new with the Nature Study Group and believe this is my first review of your work. What a fine piece with which to start! This is a very nice shot that must have required much patience! It certainly tells a strong story of wildlife survival and, for the prey, demise!

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I find the color balance is about as good as nature will allow. As nature, and especially wildlife, photographers we have to take what is given. No studio lights and posing for us! The warm color of mama contrasts well the cool parts of the background, although the very pale blue is a bit distracting. However, it is not enough to affect the score. The image is very sharp and defined.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The fox is striking a very nice pose and for the most part, well positioned. The one minor quibble I have with the composition is this: The very tip of the fox’s tail is nearly touching the border. If this image is to be framed, and I feel it should be, the tail would come very close the being in contact with the frame. Just a little more room on that side would fix it. (I see many photos with the same issue-a crop a little too tight.) Other than that, a very nice photograph. Well done!

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 9


Review by Robert D

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Great nature capture.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
You must have used a wide aperture because there is a very limited depth of field. The tail of the fox is out of focus. I would recommend burning in the bright background, brightening the fox and especially its eyes

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Attractive. Would be much better with some more post processing

SCORE P (Pictorial Quality) 2-Average composi tion and impact

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Adrian B

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Hello Louis. Well captured image and there is no doubt as to the story here - enough I believe for a 3.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I think you can make more of this image in software. Its sharp where it needs to be, but the challenge is due to the backlighting.
Ones eye will always go to the brightest area of the image - light on the tail end and post edge. These areas need toning down in my view, with more punching lightness aged to the fox to say "look at me".

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The only unfortunate point is that the fox is looking at something it has heard to your left. Not a hugely negative issue but a slight negative to stop me really liking the image.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Prasad D

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Nice capture of a fox fleeing with the squirrel tight in its mouth.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The action seems a bit blur to me. A slightly higher shutterspeed could have improved the freeze on the action.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Nice composition

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8


Review by Bogdan B

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
It's nice but hard to see a fox in our country. Good to have also prey.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The fox is not sharp enough. Due to tripod, it should not be shaked. It seems, that sharpness is on the bushes in the background.

A part of tree and tail is overexposed, while other image is good lighted.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Good composition. The fox with tail and head is nearly diagonal.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Saswati C

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
A Red Fox Mother with her Kill, both in focus, depicts a strong nature story.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The framing is too tight, the tail barely fits within the frame. Also the lower end of the tail is over exposed. Otherwise the technical aspects are ok.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The eyes and the posture of the Mother Fox is very expressive. Albeit the fra me is to o tight. Also the branches and twigs in the background are an obvious distraction. Highlights on the overexposed parts of the tail areas could be managed a bit.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8


Review by Suman B.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
catching a sly red fox mother in action does warrant a full marks but you did better. caught it with a prey for its children. lovely.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
going by the descriptions I am amazed why your image looks a bit soft? May be the answer lies in capturing details. whereas the behind bushes are sharp enough you are lacking sharpness in the belly & the hind legs. this can be for two reasons. 1. shake caused due to 1/500 shutter speed (which is negligible as you are using a gimble & also in that case the entire scene would be shaky). 2. due to wrong focus zones as may be you are using the Flexible Spot focus points whereas I would advise you to go for zone / wide focusing in a6500. But these are wild guesses as I have no data from you to corroborate this.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
the rule of thirds are being maintained in a nice way. but the bright greens from the hedge behind her head does distract. this you need to correct perhaps with a bit of darkening to reduce the highlights.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7

IF APPLICABLE, WHY DESERVING OF EXTRA POINT FOR EXCELLENCE
catching a fox mum gathering food for her child does require luck. this one is for pure luck.

SCORE E (Exceptional) 1

GRAND TOTAL WITH EXT RA POINT 8


Review by Nirmalya B.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Strong nature story.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
. Photograph appears to me reasonably sharp and well exposed. Personally, I would have preferred to reduce the background highlights slightly. Same is true for the foreground patchy highlight on the leaves which is drawing attention. Instead of f 7.1 in my opinion an aperture of 5.6 would have reduce the depth of field of the photograph helping the subject to stand out from clattered background.

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 2-Av erage ex posure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The frame rather compact. Another option would be adding a little more ambiance at right side. The green foliage appears to me as a visual relief for the brown fox.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7

I am a retired environmental engineer and worked for the US EPA for over 25 years.  For the past seven years my wife and I have lived in a retirement community in Silver Spring, MD, USA.  Upon moving here I took a basic digital photo class and fell in love with photography as a hobby.  After three years I decided to up my game by purchasing my first DSLR , long lenses, etc. and began concentrating on USA wildlife photography, primarily birds.

I now use two 24 megapixel Sony mirrorless cameras (a6000 & a6500); multiple zoom lenses (Sony 18-200; Sigma 18-300 macro, 100-400C & 150-600C); and tripod with gimbal head, etc.  

I shoot only in RAW format and use Windows PCs with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6 and Photoshop Elements 10 for editing and cataloguing approximately 8,000 images.