Study Group 2


William C. Smiley (C)

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JUNE 2019 ROUND
Title:   Glen Canyon
   
Goal:   I visited Page, Arizona to photograph the natural beauty of Glen Canyon via the Colorado River.   
 
Equipment/Source:    Nikon D810 handheld, Tamron 24-70mm lens at 26mm, a polarizer filter, ISO 320, f 9, 1/160.
  
Technique:   This photograph was taken from a float on the river at a low angle using the angle of the water line to direct the viewer to the distant bend around the canyon. The moving water in the river was used as the foreground. The composition is based on the triangular shape and diminishing scale around the curve. The light was changing constantly so I was fortunate to catch this scene with an interesting sky.

Processing:    The RAW file was processed in Photoshop CS6 adjusting contrast with luminosity curves and cropped.

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

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

Review by commentator Rick C.

There is definitely a nature story in the rock formations and the implicit erosion that has shaped this majestic scene. Typically, we do not associate behavior (or Level 3 story value) with a landscape, but that is not necessarily true. Situations such as an erupting volcano or geyser may actually rise to that level of story strength. In this instance I would say we are looking at the more common “environmental portrait”. I see enough story to justify the 2 level, but do not be disappointed if others rate it a 1 as it does lack some of the added impact and interest of the sculpted red rock areas of the West.

The exposure was heavily influenced by the dark, shadowed cliff walls in the canyon. By exposing for detail in them you lost the brighter sections in the clouds and have significant detail loss in the clipped areas. I feel this is a situation where a graduated ND filter would have helped. If the boats were moving slow enough to allow for an exposure bracket, doing so and then blending them using HDR techniques would be another alternative. The primary focus looks reasonable to me. I don’t mid the drop off in sharp detail in the distance as that is natural. I do feel the depth of field seems overly shallow for the subject and that the near canyon wall on the right could be a bit sharper.

I feel your composition is entirely reasonable for the subject and the conditions. Given that the near water is not critically sharp, I would explore cropping up from the bottom about half of the water distance on the right as that will shift the emphasis to the cliff walls and sky even more.

N-2, T-2, P-2 = 6 ( N-2 environmental portrait, T-2 exposure issue resulting in clipping in highlights, P-2 Depth of field and sharpness on right cliff face – I’ve put these in pictorial values as they affect the interest value / strength of the image more than being a technical defect.)


Review by Larry T.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
I find this to be a very pleasant scene along the Colorado River however other than erosion of the rock walls over eons of time I do not see a strong nature storyline. Perhaps if the river were more violent or the scene showed the rushing effect of water on the rock it would have more impact. I do like the appearance of the image, there is an interesting sky and the river is beautiful. I just don’t feel the nature storyline is powerful.

SCORE N (Nature) 2-basic shot--no nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
For capturing this image from a float on the river and hand holding the camera this is an effective image. The use of the polarizer most certainly adds to the visual impact of the image. Using the wider focal length keep the image sharp even at f9 and the shutter speed works.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
My preference would have been to crop a bit more off the bottom of the frame, up to the first major highlight on the right of the river. I also feel that using a brush to darken the white highlights of the river would add to the overall feel. There also appears to be a badly burned section of the clouds at the top right. I do not think you could have saved this area in Photoshop other than by cropping, but this is a most annoying area.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Ken W.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
It is a nice photo of the canyon and river, but it does not have a strong nature story.

SCORE N (Nature) 2-basic shot--no nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Good focus and exposure. Some of the dark areas on the right side do not show any detail. Black point might be set a little low. You had mentioned using a polarizer, but there are some bright areas in the water. Rather than using the sky to check the polarizer, you may want to check the water. Sometimes a polarizer may not be enough to eliminate all of the bright areas.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
It is a nice photo of the canyon and river.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Hattie S.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
The nature is there, the story is not very strong.

SCORE N (Nature) 2-basic shot--no nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
It seems the highlight of cloud is a bit blown. I would turn down the highlight a bit, add some more contrast.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7




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APRIL 2019 ROUND
Title:    Nest Building
 
Goal:  I visited a wildlife preserve in search of birds engaged in some natural action.    
 

Equipment/Source:   Nikon D4 on a mono pod with a gimbal head, Nikkor 200-500mm, ISO 1000, f6.3, 1/1000. 
   
Technique:   I discovered this ibis collecting sticks to build a nest and began tracking him. The area of the nest was blocked by limbs and did not provide a clear view. The image submitted was selected because it showed a clearer view of the ibis taking material to the nest area.

Processing:   The RAW file was processed in Photoshop adjusting contrast and luminosity levels and slightly cropped.

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

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

 
Review by commentator Rick C.

I feel you did well with the basic capture. The nature story is clear. I didn’t enlarge it, but the focus looks good and the DOF appropriate for the subject. The main issue is that you were trapped in a no man’s land on the exposure. What you did in holding the background was entirely reasonable but leaves the main subject dull and on the under exposed side. The problem is that had you exposed for the subject you most likely would have blown out the background. This is one of those instances where trying something like tone mapping on a single frame might provide a reasonable compromise. It is a good story and well composed. The weakness in in the relative tonal values which cost a lot in impact and interest. It is very crude, but take a look at what I mean by tone mapping a single image in the adjusted version.

N-2, T-3, P-1 = 7 (P-1 We composed but darker subject against lighter background is costing a lot in terms of impact and interest.)


Review by Rich F.
This is a good pictorial of an ibis collection sticks. The bird is reasonably sharo, and give the tricky lighting situation well explosed. The image suffers from several challenges. First the lighting situation is extremely difficult. The bird is in shade, the background is well lit. There are several bright areas behind the bird, such as the very bright vine just above the bird's back. The background is somewhat out of focus, but not enough for my taste. You might try darkening the background (single shot HDR technques). Finally I don't know this species of ibis but it looks over saturated to me. This could be due to the body to the body being in the shade.

If I were in this situation I would also try an exposure where the bird is properly exposed and the background much brighter. Not sure that would work but would be worth a try
N-3, T-2, P-1, E-0, Total-6


Review by Larry T.
While nest building can be a strong behavioral element in building a nature storyline I do not feel that it is achieved in this image. I fell the story line could be enhanced with a portion of the nest showing so that the idea of nest building comes across more strongly. I also think that the overall composition tends to weaken the view of nest building. (I’ll discuss this under the Pictorial element below).

Camera setting and technique seem to be well selected. Using the monopod and gimbal head are good ideas for this type of image. You have achieved enough DOF and a fast enough shutter to control the action. The somewhat high ISO handled the shade well enough although it seems to have somewhat softened the feather detail in the bird itself. I do feel that putting this dark bird in the heavy shadows detracts from the overall image.

I find the overall eye appeal of the image to be weak. The natural tendency of the viewer’s eye to seek “light and bright” draws my eye more to the background (the bright blue) rather than to the bird itself. Perhaps a simple solution to this would be to brighten the overall image and bring down the highlights this would help draw the eye to what then would be a brighter and very red bird. Additionally, I find the overall natural framing created by the tree to be quite heavy. For me the tree dominates the image and dwarfs the bird. I would prefer to the top of the image cropped off down to where the lowest heavy limb has a small bump protruding to the right just above the bird’s head. That would make the bird more dominate in the image and if the entire image was made brighter the bird would command the attention of the viewer. Finally, the general softness of the bird (perhaps caused by the high ISO) weakens the eye appeal of the image.
N-2, T-2, P-1, E-0, Total-5


Review by Janice R.
This does show the Ibis engaged in natural, nest building behavior. Your DoF was good in that the bird could be sharp and the background is nicely out of focus. On my monitor, the bird appears to be too dark and the feathers aren't sharp. The head and eye are really shaded and although the nest building behavior is the subject, because the head and beak are dark, my eye goes to the lighter background. The bird being dark does affect the impact of the image.
N=3, T=1, P=2, Total =6. 


Review by Natalie M.
N3 Definitely a nature story in play. Nice find. T2 It looks like a challenging environment with light and shade. I'm a little distracted by the vine hanging down behind the bird, but it can't be helped in this case. I'm also seeing a slight halo around the head and underside of the bird. P2 I like the composition and that you have left the tree there to frame the bird. I feel there is some impact lost because of the lighter background.
N-3, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-7


Review by Dennis H.
Good nature image of ibis collecting nest material. Nice colours on bird. I think image could be improved by cropping down to the bottom of right hand top branch as I believe the tree is overpowering the bird.
N-3, T-2, P-2, e-0, Total-7


Review by Martin P.
Certainly, an interesting nature shot. You did well to capture the behaviour in such congested and overgrown conditions. I am struggling a little with both the sharpness of the bird and the exposure. Shooting in what looks like dark shady conditions has caused you some challenges. I am wondering if a tighter crop might be a little more successful as I am finding the tree very dominant in the image.
N-2, T-1, P-1, E-0, Total-4


Review by Martin P.
Certainly, an interesting nature shot. You did well to capture the behaviour in such congested and overgrown conditions. I am struggling a little with both the sharpness of the bird and the exposure. Shooting in what looks like dark shady conditions has caused you some challenges. I am wondering if a tighter crop might be a little more successful as I am finding the tree very dominant in the image.
N-2, T-1, P-1, E-0, Total-4



Retired university professor aspiring to become a fine art photographer.  I enjoy a variety of photography styles but tend to photograph birds, landscapes and wildlife.  All critiques that may provide insights for producing better photographs are welcomed.

Equipment used:  CAMERAS-Nikon D4 and Nikon D810

LENS –Nikon 28-300mm, 200-500mm, 50 mm

              Tamron 24-70mm

Tokina  17-35mm, 100mm macro

Rokinon  14mm 

Software:  Photoshop CS6, Topaz Studio, Nil Collection