Study Group 2


Martin Patten, QPSA (C)

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FEBRUARY 2020 ROUND

Title:  Mothers Love

Goal:   Capturing the bond between a mother and pup 

Equipment/Source:    1dx2 600mm F4 shot at 1/1000 F5.6 iso 640

Technique:     We stayed on the beach to get the sunset lighting. Laying on the beach to get at eye level, Fast shutter 1/1000 to ensure sharpness. Waiting for that critical moment meant a lot of patience

Processing: 
  Crop, sharpen, a little dodge and burn

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

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




















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JANUARY 2020 ROUND
Title:    Mother and Pup

Goal:   Watching the seals birthing, feeding and mating on the beach. I wanted to get a beautiful newborn pup feeding from its mum.
  

Equipment/Source:    Canon 1dx II, 600 F4 II

Technique:    Laying on the beach to keep the angle very low to the action, camera on a tripod as low to the beach as the legs would allow, shot at hot at F6.3, 1/1000 @ ISO 160 to give me enough depth of field for the mother and pup, but trying to blur the seals in the background

Processing:  Curves, sharpen, remove a dust bunny and a hair from the final shot

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

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

Review by commentator Rick C.
The nature story here is clear and solid even though we do not see the teat that the pup is nursing from. The story contains enough of a behavioral element for me to feel a rating of 3 is warranted.

The technical quality is very solid. Focus is on the money as is sharpness. The DOF works as you intended. We might be a touch hot on the brightest patches in the pup’s fur (check you red channel to see if there is detail in that area on that channel), but not to a level I feel is an issue. I feel the technical quality warrants a rating of 3.

While I understand your intent and the desire to show some added environment, in this instance the out of focus seals in the background become strong points of contrast that pull the eye away from the story. You may feel that a full panel is too tight, but going there by cropping to just below those out of focus seals results in a significantly stronger image from my perspective. The pictorial rating for me is a 2.

This image has excellent impact and a solid nature story. It would likely rate an acceptance in most internationals even with the question of the distraction of the out of focus seals in the background. For that reason, I am awarding the E point of 1

N-3, T-3, P-2, E-1 = 9


Review by Andy H

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Good nature story with the pup suckling from the mother on an open beach with little distraction.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
You handled all the settings well. Good clean sharp image, no distractions. Good use of DOF. Exposure good, just getting a little bright on the pups coat. What needed to be in focus is in focus.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The image has impact with the isolation of the mother and pup. Composition is good with the background on the third.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 9


Review by Rich F

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Great image of pup nursing from his/her mother (is there a visible difference at this age). I like being able to see the pup's eyes as it intensely watches the mother.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The exposure is good and both the mother and pup sharp. From a technical point of view I might have pull down the highlights on the pup so they are not so bright. They appear to be slightly blow out.

If I could give 2 1/2 points I would.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The seals are placed well ln the frame and like the low angle. It works well. If it were my image I would try cropping some of the top off to create a pan. The out of focus water does not really help.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8


Review by Todd G

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Very nice capture of nature at its best. The pup suckling contently and the mother on her side with a smile on her face know she has accomplished a great feat and basking in the sun. The Nature story is definitely there.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The mother and pup are truly your subject and the added bokah of the background with the other seals and the slight blur of the foreground sand encompass the mother and pup well. Beautiful light, warm and subtle. Wondering if you were to stop down your aperture to f/8 and really bring in the focus on the pair, to see if this would have darkened and increased the bokah in the background. I don’t see what your focal distance was with your 600mm. Your exposure time appears to be perfect as it does allow for sharpness of the subjects.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I notice there is a dust dot in the upper right hand corner. Just a quick delete and should be good. Compositionally, moving to the right slight and capturing the mother’s eyes and pups from diagonal view I feel would have given a truly different perspective and may have also captured the mother’s eyes (a bonus feature).

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Bruce F

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Very strong nature story. Nothing is more powerful than mothers and babies, and here the pup feeding is a strong nature story.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The technique of getting down on the ground and using tripod at its lowest is excellent and gives the viewer the of being on the animal’s level. Using a Frisbee type ground pod would even better by getting you lower, by placing the lens just above the ground. The perfect tool for this type of shooting.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The light is excellent, and a beautiful time to be shooting. I feel that my choice would be to include a large foreground and minimize the water and the other seals in the background, actually, eliminating them entirely. The dark bodies are an eye-catching distractions, and even the blue water being another color distract the mind from the simple pure scene of a pup feeding. Just place them on the top and let the sand lead the mind to them, simplifying the color palette, and the composition. This would have been my choice. Even with your choice of 6.3 f-stop, the colors in the background complicated the flow, and lead the mind to these items. Choices made at the scene are critical and can make or break the final composition. The image is good, but the right choice could have made it better. Although, I wasn’t there so maybe there was an ugly green bush in the foreground, and no pure sand foreground might not have been possible. Still, these compositional factors separate great images from just good ones.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8


Review by Dennis H

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Excellent nature depiction of seal feeding newborn pup.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
You've put some time and effort into achieving this image. Nice colour and detail on the adult seal's body and pup's head. I feel the adult seal's head could be lightened to bring out more detail.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I think the composition could be improved by cropping the top and right hand sides and also lightening the distracting black area above the adult seal.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Tom K

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
I think the story is wonderful.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Image is in focus, and the background blur creates a focus to the image. There seems to be a sensor spot, maybe two, in the sky on the background.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I like the composition. The blue and brown colors I find pleasing. I find my eye drawn to the large dark blob in the distance over the mother. Maybe just crop out the background and make it a pano? I still love the shot.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Malena K

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
The image tells a story. You can see the tired expression on the mom's face and how happy the cub is feeding.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Really like the depth of field in the photo and that you got down to their level.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The action of the image is to the left and not in the center, which is good rule of thirds. It's a sharp image and exposure is good.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6




I started out with my photography as a teenager. I studied photography at school shooting with a fully manual camera and doing all my own processing of my B&W images in my school dark room.   Once I left school I only dabbled in photography as I had lost access to the dark room so my photography took a back seat whilst work took over.

In 2009 my Daughter went to University and when inquiring what I was going to do with all my spare time I was told "Get a hobby Dad" so I went out and bought my first digital SLR.  From the first time i looked at my images on the back of my camera I was hooked.

I am a get it right in camera kinda guy who shoots all types of images from wildlife to landscape and street to portraiture trying to deliver quality natural images with very little editing.

I live close to London which makes it difficult to get access to exotic wildlife, but I do my best in the country I live in.

As a photographer I felt I wanted some goals to aim for so completed my LRPS. my CPAGB and started entering the British Photographic Exhibitions and have recently achieved my BPE2* (50 accepted entries) and am well on the way to achieving my BPE3 (100 Accepted)

I recently (November 2018) started my FIAP and PSA journey and am very pleased with my progress so far having already won various medals and my proudest moment winning the FIAP blue badge for 23/24 acceptances in a recent salon.