Study Group 2

MJ Springett (C)

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Upload Next Round's Image and Description
Title:   Grouse Face Closeup
Goal:  Portray the Sharptail Grouse Male in all his spring regalia dancing for the female.Made Closeup to show raided eyebrows and purple sac  

Equipment/Source:    Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens f/8 1/320 sec iso 800

Technique:   Telephoto at 400mm with resting on a monopod, no room for tripod  

Processing:    Cropped and sharpened

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

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

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Title:     Redstart with Attitude
Goal:   To photograph many small birds in the campground of Theodore Roosevelt National Park  

Equipment/Source:   Canon 7D with 100-400 mm lens at f8 1/250 ISO 250
Technique:    Practicing handholding tele lens on small birds that don't land for but an instant

Basic cropping and dodging

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

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

Review by commentator Rick C.

Your exposure looks good to me. The composition is effective with extra space allowed in the direction of implied subject motion. Focus looks a little on the soft side and it is not being offset by sharpening. The sharpening is introducing some visible patterning in the smoother background. I’m not surprised by the slight off-focus. That big a lens on a monopod at that shutter speed is only marginally better than handholding (my opinion). You don’t say how big of a crop this is off the original file, but if you do have a quarter of the original file to work from, try downloading the 30-day free trial of Topaz standalone product called Sharpen AI and run the Stabilize option on it. The program will allow you to open a raw file but I do not feel that actually works. Use a TIF file with your basic adjustments but no sharpening and see if that doesn’t offset the slight softness here.

N-2, T-2, P-2 = 6 (N-2 More an environmental portrait. Lacks behavioral aspect, T-2 Lacks critical sharpness for facial area. P-2 Sharpening has introduced noticeable patterning in smooth areas of background.)

Review by Larry T.
You have produced a very visually pleasing image of a Redstart. While this is a pleasing image I do not feel that it presents a strong nature story line as it just depicts a bird sitting on a branch.

Technically you seem to have used settings which should yield a strong image. You managed a low ISO to reduce noise and even with a deep fstop of 8 your background is far enough away to render a very pleasing blurred appearance with no distractions.

While at first glance this image is appealing the image falls apart rapidly once enlarged. In the enlarged view the image becomes quite pixelated indicating that you used an extremely heavy crop to get to this image. For me, this ruins the beauty of the image. Small birds like this are extremely difficult to capture so as they fill the frame (as this does) with a 400mm lens. While it can be done, most often then end up further away and cropping becomes the aborted solution. You might gain some quality by adding a TC1.4 to your lens (making the 400mm into a 550mm) but that still might not be enough focal length to accomplish your goal. If you have to crop more than 30% of your original image you will begin to lose clarity. The rest of your image appears to be fine. As stated you have a pleasing background and you have appropriately placed the bird on the left fixation points. I personally do not mind that the bird faces to the right.
N-2, T-3, P-2, E-0, Total-7

Review by Rich F.
This is a nice picture of a ? - I wish you had identified it.I am not a birder so I struggle to ID bird. The exposure is good as is the placement in the frame. There is a good catch light in the eye. The bird is not tack sharp (nor is the branch). Your shuttle speed was rather low for the lens/camera combination - 1/250 second. I would have increased the ISO to at least 800 or possible to 1600 to get a faster shuttle speed. There appears to be some camera motion which contributes to lack of sharpness. Also you might consider dropping your F stop from F8 to F6.3 or F5.6, especially if you have a new version of the Canon 100-400 lens. Overall, you are doing great, with a few technical changes you will have some great tack sharp images.
N-2, T-1, P-3, E-0, Total-6

Review by Janice R.
This is a beautiful bird with wonderful color on the wings though I don't see a story here. The bird is in a nice position, showing off its head, chest and conformation nicely and the composition is pleasing. The exposure and color balance seem ok and the DoF has the potential to have all of the bird sharp. Unfortunately, nothing in the image is in focus.
N=2, T=1 (unfocused), P=2 (nice placement of bird in frame, nice position of bird) Total=5

Review by Natalie M.
N2 Nice portrait but lacking a story to get full marks. T2 the image seems to lack sharpness which may be the slow shutter speed for that lens. Have you experimented with using a monopod with a loose ball head for manoeuvring? You have captured his lovely colours beautifully. P2 nicely composed. I'm not familiar with the bird, I assume he is pretty small but I would probably like to see a bit more branch to help demonstrate scale. That's just a personal preference, most would not agree.
N-2, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-6

Review by Dennis H.
Nice colours on bird with good background. I think you need a faster shutter speed (1/500 sec) for hand holding that equipment as image is a little soft.
N-2, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-6

Review by Martin P.
An interesting little bird. The redstarts here in the UK have white caps on their heads. When I click on the image to view the larger image, I am finding that the image provided is lacking in quality and feel like a very large crop which does affect the sharpness. I am feeling like we are not seeing any behaviour though from the bird. Exposure wise I feel like the image works well with good details in the blacks and a nice catchlight as well. The background is very pleasing and diffuse.
N-1, T-1, P-2, E-0, total-4

Photography has always been my go-to activity when I have had spare time. My work as a cell biologist meant that data was recorded on film, developed and printed in a darkroom, and delivered to a principal research scientist. With the advent of digital photography the darkroom work was replaced by Photoshop but little else changed. Upon retirement, I now have time to pursue wildlife, landscape, and especially birds as my photographic subjects. We moved 100 miles north to be near a wildlife refuge that represents the glacial lakes and pine barrens of Wisconsin. We also enjoy the badlands of North Dakota and Theodore Roosevelt National Park.