Study Group 2


Andrew Hayes, PPSA, ARPS, EFIAP/b, DPAGB· - (B)

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AUGUST 2019 ROUND
Title:  Golden Eagle with Young Chicks
   
Goal:   I was visiting one of my favourite Scottish Estates, Glen Tanar. The team at Glen Tanar value their wildlife and continually try to find new photographic opportunities. The Golden Eagle nest hide is the only one in the UK and has been running since 2013. I've been going there for 5 years so know what to expect and my goal was to capture interaction between the parent eagles and the chick. There are no guarantees with nature. This was the youngest chick that I had the opportunity to photograph. While the image is important to me I am increasingly finding that being there and sharing theses intimate moments with these magnificent birds is far more rewarding. 

Equipment / Source: CANON 1DX MkII
EF f/2.8 L II USM + 1.4Ext
TRIPOD
ISO 1600
560MM
F/5
1/800 sec

Technique:  I'm walking into the hide at 13:00 and set up my equipment. The male bird is on the nest before I realise and I take a few shots and he's off. I've grown to know that his is fairly normal and expect both parents to come in at intervals, deposit some feed, feed the chick and fly off. Not staying for more than 15 secs so you have to be ready. My set up and the enclosure of the hide make the field of view very narrow and it was difficult to assess which way the birds were coming in. The female came a couple of more times about an hour apart with food, left it and departed. She came back at 17:00 and to my astonishment stayed until I left at 18:45. I have never had the experience of being with these magnificent birds for such an extended time. The weather was very changeable and exposure had to be checked constantly. 

Processing:  LRClassic - Auto tone with a few tweaks . Texture and Clarity. Sharpening. Some individual saturation and Luminance adjustments

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

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JULY ROUND

Title:   
Greater Spotted Woodpecker Feeding Chick 

Goal:    For several years, almost to the day, these woodpeckers have been coming in to my feeders. My goal is to get them onto more natural backgrounds and I prepare for them every year. The woodpeckers don't play the game and love to use the end of my old wooden bench as a perch. Its is the Hand of Man but they don't know PSA Nature rules so I take what the give me. One day they'll oblige and use one of my natural perched.
    
Equipment / Source:    Canon 1DX MkII
EF 400mm f/2.8 L IS II USM
Monopod
Clean Window Glass
The images are taken through my kitchen window and the birds are about 6 feet away.
ISO 800 400mm f/2.8 1/1000 sec
 
Technique: 
  I'm an early riser so I get into the kitchen and ban anyone else from entering. I keep the lights off. If the window is dirty I go out and clean it so as to get the best chance of a clean image.
Then its a matter of standing and waiting. If they come in the visit tends to last for about 3 to 5 mins and they tend to appear 3 times a day for about 5 days so plenty of opportunities. 

Processing:   
LR Classic
Tweak Auto Tone
Some texture and clarity
Sharpen with mask
A little vignetting  

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 nature story is good here.  The feeding behavior is strong enough so I feel the their use of the bench can be considered adaptive behavior.  Unfortunately many will latch on to the human element and ignore the context.  Cropping from the left to the vertical slat will help minimize the human element without weakening the nature story.  That is why I can only give it a 2 for nature.

Pictorially that red out of focus foreground object is a big distraction that pulls the viewer away from the action.  Since the woodpeckers seem to habitually use that site, you might want to see if you can remove it..

Technically your image appears properly exposed.  You did a nice job of keeping details in both the black and the whites.  The two birds are adequately sharp.

N2, T3, P2, E0, Total 7


Review by Robert D.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Great nature moment feeding woodpecker chick.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-positive nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Like the vertical but the overall picture is flat and it is difficult to separate the birds from the bench. The out of focus foreground is distracting. Perhaps some sharpening and increased contrast may help

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Interesting scene

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Adrian B.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
A very nice capture Andy! Helpful description of the situation around its taking, thank you. The Story is clear.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-positive nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Interesting that you shoot through (I assume) your double glazed windows! This doesn't appear to have adversely affected the shot, but I assume you have to have the lens very close to the glass and not at an angle.

I find the working part of the action quite sharp enough.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I do think that the image would be stronger with a small amount off the top (to reduce the amount of the light top right corner) and (more importantly) much of the purple plant (acer?). You don't have the whole chick body, so there is nothing lost by loosing most of the purple.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8


Review by Larry T.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
I feel the story fact in this image is quite clear. With the juvenile being so large having the adult position above the chick and literally jamming food down the chick’s throat creates a stronger feeling of family. Personally, I am not offended by the bench. As I read the rules the hand of man may be present if it is not the actual subject. This bench almost does not look like a bench, the part that bothers me is the screw or bolt. I can see how this could be viewed as egregious and would cause serious deductions, perhaps as low as level one. For me, I will only lower the score by a single point. I’ll be interested as to how the commentator scores this part of the image.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
First shooting through the window clears shows. I see a number of spots in the red colored item in the foreground that are objectionable. For me the overall image appears a bit soft and that is explained by the fact that you shot through the window. Otherwise the technique and settings appear to be well chosen

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Pictorially there are several arresting factor for my tastes. A minor adjustment would be to eliminate the white spot in the upper right corner with a simple vertical crop. For me the game breaker is the red at the bottom. While it is nicely blurred I feel it still arrests the eye of the viewer. I’m not sure if it is a plant or some man made object. If it is man made the image is beyond salvage as per PSA Nature rules. Even if it is natural I feel it needs to be cropped and removed.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Bruce F.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
The nature story is here. Parent birds feeding chicks is a strong nature story. The beaks together and the insects within the parent’s beak, and the parent’s beak within the mouth of the juvenile is the peak moment and very dramatic. I don’t mind the fence and since they used this as a perch within their environment. I don’t feel this hand of man element disqualifies the image under the nature category.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-positive nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Shutter speed was high enough to freeze the action, and depth of field even at f2.8 adequate to render the birds in focus. This aperture choice helps blur out the distracting grasses in the background. Lovely diffused light helps saturate the colors. No noise, nor any technical issues.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
What is very distracting is the red/pink blurred flowers in the foreground. They are blurry and out of focus. Red is a dominate color and the mind is drawn down to this area first and away from the feeding story. Since this is in your backyard, I would definitely remove these flowers from the scene, either physically, and bear your wife’s anger, or move my viewpoint so they are not included in the frame. They spoil a good and strong nature storytelling image. Also, I would have tried to include all of the juvenile within the frame and not cut off his tail or body parts. The sandy colored spot on the top should also be removed by cropping this area off. It is different color draws the mind to it and away from the subjects.

SCORE P (Pictorial Quality) 1-Inadequate composition and impact

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Bogdan B.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Hand of man is very clearly seen: metal screw and flat-cut wood.

SCORE N (Nature) 1-Nature story minimal or contains unrelated hand of man

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Good lightning, a little bit lack of sharpness.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Violet blurred foreground is a distraction. The background should be blurred more.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 5


Review by Linda C.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
This was a great shot. I am wondering if the bird being fed is a chick as it is as large as the bird at the top of the fence.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The bird images were sharp. The focus of the background was inconsistent. The impact of the birds was decreased due to the color of the fence color being close to the bird colors. The bottom of the picture was just plain awful. If fairly sharp I would not have made out of focus. Cropping would have taken part of the bird so that was not a solution.

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 1-Inadequate exposure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Impact would have been greater if fence color could have been enhanced allowing the birds to stand out more.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 5








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Biography

I was born in Prestwick, Scotland and travelled to many parts of the world with my father who was in the Royal Air Force. Now living in historic village of Fettercairn in Kincardineshire, Scotland with my wife Hilary and 'Smokey' the cat. Semi retired construction industry owner and business consultant. Grampian representative of the Royal Photographic Society, member of Brechin Photographic Society. (Est 1888), Dundee Photographic Society, a Scottish Photographic Federation Judge & Speaker and PSA Scottish Liaison Officer and Membership Director. Much of my photography was aviation photography but about 15 years ago I returned to Wildlife photography, mostly in Scotland, but with annual trips to Kenya and India.