Study Group 2

Robert Davis, QPSA (A)

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Title:    Mexican squirrel
Goal:   I was on a South Texas ranch at a small waterhole looking out for birds when this beautifully textures unique Mexican Squirrel showed up. He was eating the plentiful seeds on the ground. I took several images before he ran off.

Equipment/Source:  Canon 7D Mk2,500mm f4. 1/640 sec. f6.3. ISO 400. Wimberly head.Tripod. Spot metering.   

Technique:   Camera was suspended and balance on the Wimberly head and tripod. I was sitting on a portable canvas chair. Auto focus and exposure worked well here where there was no time to think about it. The relatively wide aperture made the squirrel really stand out from the background. 

Processing:   Photoshop CC, Slight increase in contrast and brightening. 

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

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

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Title:    Crested Gecko

Goal:   To study and record images of small reptiles at a workshop. Crested geckos are among the largest gecko species and typically range from 6–10 inches (15–25 cm) in length, including 4–6 inches (10–15 cm) of tail length.[3] Among the most distinctive features of these geckos are the hair-like projections found above the eyes, which greatly resemble eyelashes. Crested geckos also have two rows of spines that run from the sides of their wedge-shaped head to the base of their tail. Crested geckos do not have eyelids and so they use their long tongues to moisten their eyes and remove debris. They are native to New Caledonia.

Equipment/Source:  Canon 5DS, 50 mm 2.5 macro. ISO 400.f32. Ring flash. Handheld. 1/200

Technique:   The gecko was placed on bamboo clustered then taken from about 8 inches with a Canon ring flash. Despite the common view that f32 produces diffraction, you cannot see that here. 

 Photoshop CS. Slight brighten and increase contrast

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

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

Review by commentator Tom S.

International exhibitions don’t normally read titles of the entries, so this image wouldn’t do very well because without the title, the viewer would not know what it was. Maybe another angle would allow the viewer to understand it. Technically, it is ok.  Good color and everything is sharp.  Need to see its eyes or at least one eye.

N-2, T-3, P-2 = 7

Review by Larry T.
The nature category demands a strong nature related story line and I do not find in this image anything more than a partial image of a Gecko. Your goal of “to study and record images of small reptiles” is not a storyline.

I am basing my review on the thumbnail size image as enlarged it appears to pixelated on my monitor to view accurately.

After studying this image I feel you angle of view produces an image that is more bamboo than gecko. Perhaps the use of a macro lens from this head on angle of view is not the best as I find it difficult to identify the gecko. While the lighting seems adequate and even the macro lens employed does not make the eyes that you describe visible.

When first viewing this image I struggled to fully identify the gecko. I feel you feature too much of the bamboo and not enough of the gecko. Perhaps showing a profile or a ¾ angle or even a view from above would render the gecko more recognizable. To me it almost looks as if you completely misframed the image and left off the creature’s body at the top. 
N-2, T-2, P-1, E-0, Total-5

Review by MJ Springett
This image is pixelated and the story had to be explained as the image does not clearly demonstate the described behavior.  
N-1, T-1, P-1, E-0, Total-3

Review by Charlie Y.
interesting capture, I do have some suggestions:
1) pick a different background color to stand out the gecko. 2) composition to show more % of gecko than the background, beside it's almost blend in with backgroud. 
N-2, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-6

Review by Adrian B.
An interesting study Robert. Technically it looks sharp, with your flash providing consistent lighting and no distractions from the very dark background top left and right.
This is my first month of this Study Group and am generally not experienced enough to know how very tight macro shots like this fare in Nature Competitions. It has impact, yes; but I am not sure how interesting it is to a judge.
With you capturing the tongue wetting the eye is a good study of the creature.
N-3, T-3, P-2, E-0, Total-8

Review by William S.
I found this angle showing little of the body area difficult to view as a crested gecko, especially with what seems like hair (the bamboo) around its body. At best it is a portrait.

A better angle would be a head to side position to show more of the animal and help with the identification. Although the highlights are not blown, reducing the highlights on the face would make it easier to see his features and eyes. The image is cropped too close at the top cutting off part of the head.
N-2, T-2, P-1, E-0, Total-5

Review by Sylvia W.
Very similar to a shot I put in this month. Nice lighting on the gecko with no distractions in the background. The foreground, however, does nothing for me. Consider a square crop. On my screen I don’t feel that the image is sharp where it needs to be - the eye area, as that is where the action is happening. In fact I don’t think that looking down on the gecko has helped you to establish “eye” contact with the animal. Being that you were in a controlled setting you would have had time to compose a stronger image.
N-3, T-2, P-1, E-0, Total-6

Review by Ken W.
Nice photo of a gecko cleaning its eye. Good timing on the capture, Good sharpness and exposure. I would have like to seen a little more of the gecko. 
N-3, T-3, P-2, E-0, Total-8

Bob Davis was born in Johannesburg South Africa and educated there and in London, Edinburgh and New York. He has retired from being a surgeon in Houston Texas for many years. After the busy years of hard work, he joined the Houston Photographic Society and is now its President. He is fascinated by all forms of photography especially nature. He mainly utilizes Canon equipment and is trying hard to keep up with recent software advances.