Study Group 2

MJ Springett (B)

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Title:  Shovelers Territorial Dispute
Goal:   When the ducks return in the spring they are near the breeding time and territorial displays are a treasured capture.

Equipment/Source:    Canon 70D and Tamron 150-600mm Lens set for shutter speed optimum and f8 for depth of field.

Technique:    The technique is basically sit and wait in a Jeep alongside the wetlands.

Processing:   Image was cropped, dodged and burned, sharpened in Photoshop

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

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

Review by commentator Dan C.

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Title:   Red Neck Grebe
Goal:    My goal last summer was to record the life and times of three pair of Red Neck Grebes that were trying to nest in our area (Northwestern Wisconsin). They were not successful but I was able to document the behavior many times. When the mated pair become separated while searching for food, they often call to each other.

Equipment/Source:   Canon 70D and Tamron 150-600mm lens
Technique:   Waiting in my Jeep blind for the birds to come close enough for a good image, then to exhibit some natural behaviors.

Basic cropping, Sharpening and contrast adjustments in Photoshop.

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

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

Review by commentator Dan C.

The grebe itself is excellent for the most part with the exception of that bright spot on its breast.  The calling, added to the ripples in the water, gives you its story.

The lily pads are a bit confusing for me, almost an optical illusion. The ones right at the grebe look level.  The ones in the background make it look like the water is going downhill to the left.  It did look a bit better slightly rotated but as presented, that was not satisfactory because it clipped the breast.  Oh well.

N3, T2, P2, E0, Total 7

Response from MJ Springett to the above:
thanks for the info, did not see the line of lily pads, you are right

Review by Robert D.
Good record shot of this grebe. My suggestions: give the bird a little more space especially below it. One of the leaves intersects the lower beak. Would remove this. Try to bring out some detail in the shadows. There are a lot of distracting small white spots. These can be removed with the spot healing brush.
N-2, T-1, P-1, E-0, Total-4

Review by Martin P.
A nice study of a bird that I haven’t seen before, so I enjoyed being introduced to such a nice creature.

N = I am feeling like this is a nice study of the bird in its natural environment. Whilst the bird does have its beak open I find that I am not feeling like this is strong natural behaviour although I have noted that our local Great Crested Grebes behave in a similar manner, I feel that a non-nature lover would not be able to discern what is happening.
T = I am feeling that the eye and beak are wonderfully sharp and well exposed. I feel that the differential focus / wide aperture / long focal length has combined to deliver a very narrow depth of field which has really helped to differentiate the bird from the background. I do notice a very bright area which I am feeling is losing detail due to over exposure, but it is a relatively small area. I do wonder if the original image was shot in raw and that the affected area might be pulled in during post processing by either dodging the area or reducing the highlights.
P = I am enjoying the position of the bird in the frame and the space that the author has left on the left to allow the bird some space to look into. I am also enjoying the catchlight and feather detail in the head which I feel helps to bring the creature to life. I do feel that the background is a little distracting with all the lily pads but this can’t be helped in a natural environment. I am wondering if the background exposure/ contrast/ highlights were reduced / altered as it does appear a little grey and even in comparison to the bright light on the bird. I am wondering if a little more space around the bird and in particular the foreground would give us a little more context. I am enjoying the image overall.
N-2, T-3, P-2, e-0, Total-7

Review by Andy H.
I find it interesting to spend time studying a subject rather than grabbing a shot and moving on. Your perseverance paid off with this image. Technically the image is fine. I would try to recover some detail on the back of the grebe. Composition is also good but if you have some more image at the base I would include it. I hope you continue with this project snd that the birds successfully nest to give you the opportunity to photograph the chicks and feeding.
N-3, T-2j, P-3, e-0, Total-8

Review by Larry T.
Your goal of documenting the behavior of the Grebe is admirable however, in my opinion, the bird simply sitting in the water does not demonstrate a strong story line. If the bird was nest building, fishing or something similar then you might have a more compelling story line.

Unfortunately you do not provide your camera setting. Having them would help to understand HOW you created your image. While the image appears sharp, it would seem that your focus point is on the eye (a good thing) but it also seems that your have a very shallow depth of field because the back of the bird lacks detail and appears soft. This might be due to the fact that it is dark and wet, but in my opinion I feel it is from a lack of DOF. There is a burned highlight on the birds breast which might be removed by raising the f stop and making the image a bid darker. I also wonder how high your ISO is because the feathers on the bird’s head lack detail. I do applaud the fact that you captured a catch light in the eye. Over all, except for the face the image has a fairly soft look to it. Did you use a polarizer? Using one may have eliminated the glare on the surface of the water.

The general composition pleasing as you did honor the rule of thirds and place the bird on the right fixation points. The angle of the bird’s head adds some dynamics to the image. I would have cropped just a fraction of an inch off the top to eliminate the disjointed dark spots of the water plants on the top edge toward the right. I would also suggest providing a bit more water below the bird to avoid the cramped placement on the bird in the frame.
N-2, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-6

Review by Rich F.
This is a strong image of a Red Neck Grebe. The bird is well positioned in the frame, though a bit low for my tastes, and well exposed. The image captures natural behavior. The highlight on the birds breast (above the water line) does not bother, but I wonder if you could lighten the very dark back of the bird a bit. Did you try to crop a bit off the top (through the lilly pad above the bird's head)?
N-3, T-2, P-3, E-0, Total-8

Review by Dennis H.
Interesting image of grebe. Good colour on head and neck. I feel dark areas on head and body could be lightened to bring out more detail.
N-3, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-7

Review by Natalie M.
Nice photo of this lovely bird, however to me it is more of an environmental portrait. I like the lily pads in the background but I think there needs to be some straightening because there appears to be a slight tilt to the left. The brightest part of the image is we here it should be, keeping the viewers focus on the bird.
N-2, T-2, P-2, E-0, total-6

Review by Omar P.
Great capture of a Grebe, from experience I know how difficult it is to get a good shot of these constantly moving and diving birds. The framing and composition looks very good. I prefer to see a little more detail on the image of the bird, but It might be that you captured it after it came up from a dive and the water is softening the details. 
N-3, T-3, P-2, E-0, Total-8

Review by bogdan B.
Attractive portrait of Grebe. The head is sharp enough. DOF is not high enough to get also sharp neck.
Composition is somehow tight on the bottom and also on the top.
N-2, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-6

Review by Valentin D.
I like your your composition, although I would let more space in front of the duck. I would also recommend to add your camera settings in the comments. You might have missed the focus on the eye by a hair. 
N-3, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-7

Review by Prasad D.

The image is tightly cropped. There is no interesting action seen.
N-1, T-2, P-1, E-0 Total 4
Review by Suman B.
The conservation status of this bird is Least Concern according to the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA). This I found from the study of the Shovelers from WIKI that the breeding drake has an iridescent dark green head which your photo confirms too. Pretty sharp image with good colour tones brought out. Eyes needed space left side and a below crop won’t hurt it. But I find the plumage of the bird tad softer than it should be. Also the burning around the head is showing with a halo effect. 
N-3, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-7

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.