Study Group 2

Charlie Yang (C)

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Title:    Pelican preening  
Goal:     good sunny Sunday, walk into the local forest preserve, surprisingly see a few pelicans basking in the sun. hand held, bend down, lean against the tree trunk, took a few shots.

Equipment/Source:   Nikon D500, lens 200-500mm @460mm, 1/1600S, ISO 280.
Technique:   although light is favorable, still far for my gear. so walk along the shore line, looking for better angle, distance. background. but eager to get some shots in before they change their mind. 

Processing:    so severe crop, exp+, clarity+, shadow+, h/l-, black+, in LR. 

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

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

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Title:   Search for Spring
Goal:  Out to look for sign of spring, in this instance, "skunk cabbage", and get a shot of early development of this plant, and capture the bursting out. 

Equipment/Source:    Nikon D5300, 10-20mm lens, at 11mm, F/11, S 1/20sec, ISO 800
Technique:   looking the weather forecast, it's hoover around 30F, I want to capture the cabbage still in frozen ice stream, So, rushed a bit, found it along the stream, lay flat on ground, and position my camera on the flat ice surface (on top of a square tarp), timer trigger. 

Processing:  Crop, align, in LR, clarify+, white/black adjustment. 

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

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

Review by Rick C.

I had to study the image for a bit to see what you described, but in the end, I felt you did a good job in accomplishing your goal. Primary focus looked OK to me. I found that I needed to add a fair amount of sharpening to bring out the texture in the ice so that it showed to the viewer more readily. Your exposure is very good for the lighting. I like the low angle and commend you for getting down to capture it from this perspective. I do feel that at 11mm, you are getting a bit too much in the image even with the crop you have already applied. I went to a tighter panel and felt that still conveyed your story without some of the superfluous elements that tended to pull my eye away. I added a bit more control to the background by dropping in a black to transparent gradient on a layer, changing the blend mode to Luminosity and dropping the opacity to 4%. The gradient stopped just past the far stream bank.

This doesn’t carry the strength of nature story that some of the behavioral images do, but it is still an effective one. A great exercise and self-assignment for the winter and one you handled well.

N-2, T-3, P-2 = 7 (N-2 Nature story does not have the strength (aka “interest”) of behavioral interaction. P-2 A little loose compositionally in my opinion.)

Review by Larry T.
I do not feel that the sign of spring as shown by a opening “skunk cabbage” demonstrates a strong nature storyline.

I do not feel that the camera settings were adequate top capture the image as shown. In my opinion the white sky shown at the top is overexposed as the camera metered the darker tones in the bottom 2/3 of the image. I do applaud your efforts in capturing this image and the care you took to protect your camera with the tarp.

I feel that in this case “less is more”. I would suggest cropping out the white sky at the top as it really does not contribute to the story line. I would also suggest cropping in from the left side as far as the first large tree in the forest (about 25% should be removed). I would also adjust the right side so as to get the entire semi-submerged leaf 

In my opinion, this image is a nice capture of the “skunk cabbage” but it lacks drama as it seems to be just a photo of record. 
N-2, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-6

Review by Janice R.
This skunk cabbage is an interesting, colorful plant with a subtle story of emerging spring. It's interesting that it is posed next to the fall flower. Your color balance seems good and the cabbage is in focus. Though the background is blurred, its lightness and texture are distracting and compete with the subject as does the orange leave at the right. Given that the orange leaf is also in the foreground and is in focus, it compete with the cabbage and doesn't allow the cabbage to be the clear subject. Perhaps darkening the background and the leaf would help to keep the eye on the cabbage. Also, I would experiment with cropping more of the left side of the image out which would increase the emphasis on the contrast between the cabbage and the leaf.
N=2, T=2 P=1 Total= 5

Review by Sylvia W.
Maybe you needed to slow down and stop rushing. For me this image has so much going on the Skunk Cabbage, dead leaves frozen in the ice, river, trees in the background - where to look first. Simplicity is the key - if you wanted a picture of the Skunk Cabbage, then you need to focus on just that. By lowering the f/stop you would have blurred out the background more and drawn out eye to where you wanted us to look. Overall the image is soft.
N-2, T-1, P-1, E-0, Total-4

Review by MJ Springett
N= While I admire your approach and effort, I think the image lacks a good focal point.
T= the background bank is very distracting and the ice is hard to find. I would crop the top and left side, to leave only cabbage plant and maybe the floating leaf
P= the background is a very drab color and detracts from the beautiful green of spring.
N-2, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-6

Review by William S.
Wow, I learned something today about skunk cabbage. I think that you have a good idea capturing the cabbage near a fall/winter leaf to show that other vegetation is still dormant.

I would first suggest that you straighten the horizon and crop closer to place more emphasis on your main subject by removing the distracting background. Shooting at a smaller f stop would create a shallow depth of field blurring some of the distraction.

Removing things that distract from your main subject would greatly improve this image.
N-3, T-1, P-2, E-0, Total-6

Review by Martin P.
An interesting nature shot of the plant emerging. Not something I would go and shoot so I applaud your capturing of this type of shot. Exposure is good, depth of field is good.. I do wonder if we needed any sky / trees as that becomes the brightest area so draws your eye away from the main subject… I might have done a little gardening and removed the red leaf as it is very interesting and competes with your main subject.
N-3, T-2, P-1, E-0, Total-6

Review by Ken W.
A little weak in the nature story, I did like the 3d effect on the floating leaf curled up, Good sharpness, Due to the plain sky in the woods, I wonder if a telephoto lens could have eliminated some of the background.
N-1, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-5

I love to travel, and travels bring back pictures and memories, that’s one of the reasons I join PSA, to take better pictures and learn what to adjust afterwards. Just start to learn the capabilities of LR and PS, and things some of my club friends can do with them just simply amaze me. 

Nikon D5300, D810 are my main camera, and still learning what they can do, and it's fun to walk around to take different pictures at different time and under different light. 

My other pastime is golf. Hope to play out 50 states PGA courses. 

I live in Schaumburg, Chicago suburb, looking forward to get some fun experiences with Nature.