Study Group 2


MJ Springett (D)

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JUNE 2020 ROUND
Title:    The Egg Thief

Goal:     In spring and summer I do a lot of watching wildlife and birds in particular. Sand hill cranes are often thought of as peaceful quiet birds, but this image shows their relationship to red wing blackbirds when the young cranes are begging for food, the adult cranes will forage in the weeds for eggs and baby birds. This adult has found some blackbird eggs and the blackbird is attacking trying to defend the nest.
  

Equipment/Source:    Canon 70D and Tamron 150-600 mm lens at 600 mm
f/8 @1/1000" iso 640

Technique:   Sitting patiently while birds hunt the cattail marsh 

Processing:   this image needed very little processing help, cropped, dodged and burned to highlight crane head and egg

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 Mj. Wow! You got a nature story in birding that is wonderful. Seeing this must have been a very special experience for you. This is what “birding” wildlife photography is all about – capturing that moment in time where two birds are joined in the battle of life.
I really liked it that your camera settings were spot on. Those settings enabled you to capture a distant photo properly exposed, very sharp, and very clean. I wouldn’t change your method at all.
On the other hand, your cropping is haunting you. If you take a look at your May photo in the Nature Study Group, you did a wonderful job when you cropped using Landscape with the crop being elongated horizontally. With this photo, if you had done the same thing except using Portrait cropping and not too elongated it would have brough more attention to the two birds and would have “especially” make the egg in the birds mouth a more important part of the nature story.
Overall, this is a wonderful photo and I wish I had been right next to you.

Score: 8


Review by Janice R

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Wow! In my opinion, this is an amazing capture. This action image is well composed and tells the story of the egg thief. score 3

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Clearly this was well thought out and planned in advance. In my experience, you can't take this type of action image without setting up your camera setting ahead of time and then waiting for the action to start. exposure, shutter speed and Dof are spot on. It would have been easy to have one or other of the birds out of focus but you have both perfectly exposed. I love that you got the color on the tri c olor bla ckbird as well as the sharp focus on the eye of the crane. technical score 3

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I think this is a well composed nature image that is well thought out and demonstrates technical as well as artistic expertise. pictorial score 3

SCORE 9


Review by Larry T

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
I would suggest cropping this image into the same format as you image from last month. Such a format would remove the darker parts of the background near the top and accentuate the feeling of speed. The existing top of the background is just visually distracting.



TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Technically the camera settings worked in terms of capturing this image . However, the entire image has a flat and lifeless feel to it. It feels as if the exposure was missed and you have tried to bring something back on post work.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The square format was the best choice show off this particular capture. Anything else would have left too much blank space and made the two birds less dynamic in the frame. It appears as the image lacks proper saturation in the greens as all the plant life seems to lack life. The image appears to lack real sharpness. It would be nearly impossible to capture a blackbird in flight with only a shutter speed of 1/640. The fact that the birds is moving away from the camera position imparts a bit of false sharpness. The crane appears to have lacked initial sharpness and you tried to bring it back using A1, for me this did not work.

< strong>S CORE 6


Review by Haru N.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
This shows strong nature story of fighting for the progeny. Captured the right moment of picking up egg vs fighting back. Tells good nature story.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
sharp on main subjects vs nice blur of background.
Proper exposure with good lighting.
Technically all in good in my view.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Only my comment is that composition wise, the black bird is too small to tell if it is fighting/attaching against the crane. That reduce the impact of the image unfortunately.
I am not sure that you need all the space in side with grasses. I might try to crop drastically to show the neck of crane and black bird to highlight "attaching".

SCORE 7


Review by Louis P

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
wonderful nature shot -3

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
excellent shot, sharp and focused; great coloration - 3

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
very moving story; wonderful how nearly everything is tack sharp, especially when shooting thru the grasses -3

SCORE 9


Review by Charlie Y

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
nice capture of sandhill crane got an egg in its mouth, However, if the redwing was facing viewer and show its face and may be some attacking behavior than a butt. I'd say you got half the strong nature story there.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
main actors of the image are clear and presentable. proper exposure and color balance. taking a shot of that in the long grass is tough, and you got it done. gj.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
pleasing image. would crop out some on either side to tighten the image, just my thought. If the redwing facing us, would be a stronger nature story.

SCORE 7


Review by Natalie M

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Great story there, and well spotted. 3 points.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Depth of field is great, with everything in focus that should be. Colour and exposure also look good. 3 points.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I think this image is well composed, I'm being a bit tough here but if the blackbird was facing the camera you would have got the 3 points for impact.

SCORE 8


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MAY 2020 ROUND

Title:   Nest Building 
 
Goal:     Red-Necked Grebes are rather rare in northern Wisconsin, but this pair of birds have nested three years running. No baby grebes have hatched in that time or have been pedatorized. I have been watching this pair building their third nest this spring, maybe it will produce some adult birds this year. 

Equipment/Source:    Canon 70D with Tamron 150-600 mm lens
 
Technique:    f/10 at 1/640" and ISO 400 

Processing:   
Cropped and stabilized with Topaz sharpen A1 

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

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

Review by commentator Dan C.

There are a lot of strong nature stories in the group this round.  This one is no exception.  It shows the normal aquatic plant nest building material of the grebe so the image is a strong indication of behavior.  The water on the grebe’s head and back further add to the story by showing that it just returned from a dive to pluck the lily pad stem from the bottom of the pond.  Definitely a 3 for nature.

Technically your exposure excellent, as is the sharpness. You were able to hold the whites in the head and still show detail in the blacks.  Another 3.

Pictorially I like your cropping to a panel.  It focuses the viewer on the story.  You may want to consider flipping horizontal so you are confronted by the grebe.  That is my preference but a lot depends on what is important to your story, the grebe with the lily pad or the lily pad.  Flipped horizontal I feel more emphasis is placed on the grebe.  Since that is a personal opinion, the pictorial score is still a 3 but does stop me from awarding the 1 for exceptional. Either way it is an excellent image.

N3, T3, P3, E0, Total 9



Review by Robert D

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
I really like this photo. good capture of nest building activity.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The crop is quite severe and makes the picture quite unwieldy. The second bird is not clearly identifiable as such. This is distracting. I would recommend cropping out the second bird even though you may think it is important to the story. Then the composition will be more attractive focussing the viewer's attention on one well exposed subject.

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

< strong>P ICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Nice

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Rick D.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Hi MJ. I am fairly new to this group and believe this is my first review of your work. This is a very nice shot. According to the scoring protocol, I suppose nest building would be classified as common behavior. If I could, I would score it at least a 2.9.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
All your tech points hit the mark. Very sharp and well defined, down to the water drops on the grebe’s back. The feathers and the rough water are nicely captured.

SCORE T (Techni cal Qual ity) 3-Excellent exposure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The cool water and reed compliment the grebe’s warm, earthy tones. There is a very well defined catch light in the eye. The reed itself is a strong line to the head for the viewer’s eye. I really appreciate the fine cropping job you have done, by giving the bird “room to move” in the direction its head is pointed. Proper cropping should be very easy, but it seems to me that many photographers fail to grasp it. One very small issue is that on the right side border, there is a small amount of what appears to be vegetation. I would like to see that cloned out thus keeping the border area clean and uncluttered. However, that is not issue enough to affect your score. Well done, sir!

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8

IF APPLICABLE , WHY DE SERVING OF EXTRA POINT FOR EXCELLENCE
This photo tells a story and easily be on someone's wall.

SCORE E (Exceptional) 1

GRAND TOTAL WITH EXTRA POINT 9


Review by Adrian B

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
You have caught the front bird very well. My difficulty is that I am not knowledgeable about these birds, so I don't understand what the rear one is doing or how it forms part of the story. The front one seems almost to be putting whatever the rear item is (I assume a bird!)
The point is, that the rear bird's position does not help in understanding the story - to me anyway.

SCORE N (Nature) common behavior

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Technically you have captured a solid image and it is well presented - I don't find the fact that there is not much space to the right for the lead bird to move into being an issue.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
My enjoyment of the image is marred too much by lack of understanding what the image is supposed to be telling me to award more than a 2.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Prasad D

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Seems to be a Portrait of a Red-Necked Grebe.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
More contrast would improve the image.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
More space towards the right could have been better.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Bogdan B

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Gathering nest material is a good story especially such big plants.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Photo is extremly sharp as eye as water drops. DOF is proper and good lightened.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Format of the photo fine adjusted to the subject.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 9

IF APPLICA BLE, WHY DESERVING OF EXTRA POINT FOR EXCELLENCE
Perfect image.

SCORE E (Exceptional) 1

GRAND TOTAL WITH EXTRA POINT 10


Review by Saswati C

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
This picture offers a symmetrical balance, and is a very eye pleasing nature shot.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The picture is technically sound, camera settings are ok.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The twig in the beak of the Red Necked Gebres creates a nice visual curve, balancing the small waves of the water. Also there’s a nice catch eye . The co lor balance is also we executed.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8


Review by Suman B.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
nest building story perfectly captured. with the background information supplied its definitely a 3.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
perfect settings applied. with the subtle low light playing in action you did it absolutely right.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I love the floating motion and the capturing of the nesting material on the beak of the grebe. couldn't have been better.

SCORE P (Pictor ial Qual ity) 3-Excellent composition and impact

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 9

IF APPLICABLE, WHY DESERVING OF EXTRA POINT FOR EXCELLENCE
the light played a key part with the perfect pov displayed

SCORE E (Exceptional) 1

GRAND TOTAL WITH EXTRA POINT 10


Review by Nirmalya B.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Beautiful and strong nature story. (What I am most impressed with your narration is your consistent follow up with the species for last three years).

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
From technical perspective I found no flaw in this photograph.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Pictorially I must say I am negatively biased with the restricted use of canvas and massive cropping. Over all this photograph appears to me well balanced within it’s given format

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE: 8



















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.