Study Group 2


Adrian Binney, QPSA, LRPS

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DECEMBER 2019 ROUND

Title:     Bison in Yellowstone's Winter
   
Goal:    To take a picture of a bison depicting its struggle for survival in Yellowstone's harsh winter
 
Equipment/Source:   Canon 7D with 70-200 f2.8 and 2x converter - at 205mm 1/640 f5.6 ISO 125 
 
Technique:    Using a tripod early in morning February 2012, we waited for the swirling combination of morning mist and geyser steam move sufficiently to have a clear shot of the bison and a partial view of the main tree covered in snow and hoar frost

Processing: 
  Using Lightroom, small crop, then using the new texture slider (removing clarity used before) locally only on the bison and separately in the foreground and main tree. Left white balance as captured as there was a blue hue in the mornings.

  

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

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

 


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NOVEMBER 2019 ROUND
Title:     Leopard enjoying meal
     
Goal:    To get as clean a shot as possible of a leopard, ideally feeding  

Equipment/Source:   Olympus EM1X with Pro 300 f4 lens +1.4 converter (FF equivalent 840mm) - ISO 6,400 1/125 f5.6

Technique:   We found this leopard soon after it had secured its warthog prize in Namibia last month, just as evening light was fading! I had set Auto ISO to a 6,400 max (due to m4/3 size sensor) so this drove 1/125th - fine with the 6x+ stop image stabilisation, but the leopard had to be materially still. So I timed my shot sequence accordingly (I don't like sequential shooting in these circumstances: I can fire 2 or 3 shots very quickly as needed].

Processing:    Lightroom used only. Not much of a crop needed, just putting it in a letterbox shape. I added localised texture and a bit of clarity to the leopard and darkened slightly the background. I chose not to use noise sliders as I actually didn't think it was necessary. Is there enough story here?

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

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

Review by commentator Rick C.
To answer your question, yes, I feel the nature story is good and clear to the typical viewer. They might not be able to say that the Leopard has a Warthog, but that it is working on prey is very clear. That said, the story would be stronger still if it was actually biting or tearing at the carcass. Nature story value is rated as a 3.

All technical elements look good to me. Primary focus is good as is the degree of sharpness. The background is reasonably soft and, while discernable, I don’t feel it competes too much for the viewer’s eye. I would agree that I see no need for additional noise reduction. You did a very commendable job in working at iso 6400 for this. The technical quality is rated as 3.

The image has good impact. I do not feel the intervening vegetation shows strongly enough to be disruptive. The face is centered, but I feel that is fine given the composition as a whole. The blood on the face is what helps to make the story clear. While the tongue lick is somewhat interesting, the image would be a little stronger, in my opinion, if the cat were actively working on the carcass. The pictorial quality is rated as a 3.

N-3, T-3, P-3 = 9


Review by Larry T

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
There is a clear and powerful nature storyline enhanced by the blood on the face. The addition of the leg of the prey simply seals the deal.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
This is an effective capture under trying conditions. With failing light forcing an ISO of 6400 and such a slow shutter you did quite well to obtain a clean capture. The image has adequate exposure and faced with the flat light the color saturation is what is to be expected.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
While I’m sure this was an exciting moment to capture the final image simply lacks impact. The posture of the cat leaves a flat, static feel to the image and the clutter along the top edge creates a busy feel to the image. Perhaps a lower angle would solve the issue presented in this composition but it may introduce another depending on what is behind the cat as shown here. The long expanse of the cat’s back also reduces the impact. The exciting part of the image it the cats face and anything that aspect into dominance would improve the image. I agree that noise is not an issue with this image mostly due to the lack of heavy shadow areas.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Rich F

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Nice image of a leopard enjoying a meal. You can see the leg of the warthog prey. The bloody mouth shows that the cat has enjoying his meal, the tongue adds a bit of interest.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Well exposed and including a bit of the warthog helps. I think that the cat's leg and the warthog's leg are both too close the bottom and top edges, respectively. But that is minor nit.

I know you can not do anything about this but the out of focus twigs is annoying.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
This is a good balance of cat and prey. Both are cropped but in a way that works. As I previously mentioned I wish there was a bit extra space on the top and bottom of the image. Plus the twigs are somewhat bothersome.

I know that the cat will not move for you and you may not be able to move the vehicle.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8


Review by Andy H

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
For me, yes, there is enough of a story to warrant a 3.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
As a fellow user of the EM1X I know the limitations and given the circumstances you've handled them well. ISO 6400 and no noise reduction I'm surprised. Darkening of the background has been handled well. The in body and lens image stabilisation of the Olympus cameras is a real asset in these conditions. My Canon set up would cope with greater ISO but not 1/125 sec.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The image has impact but the composition I feel is lacking. This may well be due to the distance and the angle at which you had to shoot. The inevitable foreground grasses/ twigs almost disappear and luckily they weren't over the face.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8


Review by Louis P

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
wonderful nature story

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
excellent exposure, sharpness, color; a wonderful shot

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
composure was excellent; catch-light in eye and extra bonus; impact was very moving

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 9


Review by Dennis H

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Good study of leopard enjoying its kill.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Leopard's eyes clear and sharp. Colour on leopard looks quite good although detail looks a little grainy.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Image has good impact but grass stalks are a little distracting.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Natalie M

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
No questioning the presence of a story here, 3 points.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Looks generally sharp, I wonder if a little contrast boost would help it really pop?

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
CVomposition looks appropriate for the scene. If the cat had been looking down the lens, and the out of focus grass wasn't there, then 3 points.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Todd G

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
You mention in the technique section you came upon this leopard just after a kill. The story appears to be lacking in overall perspective, although you did capture the leopard, it just appears it was really by happenstance.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
From your description, it appears you were “forced” to struggle with your settings due to the fading light. ISO 6400 really made this image grainy with a lot of noise. The leopard’s spots are blurred, not sharp, the eyes are blurred, even the dirt in front of the leopard is not tack sharp. There is a lot of “commotion” in the foreground with the branches and the grass blades along the lower edge of the image, that to me is distracting.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The photo appears too cropped and just “cut-off” Not enough of the leopard and really only the hind leg of the warthog. A zoom of 600 mm would have opened up the image more and I don’t know if you have any room to play with this.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 4


Review by Malena K

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
There is enough story there and appreciate the bloodiness of the kill wasn't shown. It can still be enjoyed by someone with a weak stomach.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Catch eye is there and I've always been told if the eyes are in focus you've captured it correctly. Exposure is good with it being evening light.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Composition good

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6

I am retired (64 as at 2018) and keen to devote more time to photography and travelling. My photography started 40 years ago with a home darkroom and like many, was kickstarted again with digital SLR’s becoming affordable.
I was a Canon man - 5 and 7 bodies, with many L series lenses, but sold the whole lot in 2015 due to weight issues. I now use an Olympus EM1 Mkii with many of their Pro series lenses and don’t regret the move. My core wildlife lens is a 300 f4 prime, which is razor sharp. Used with a 1.4 converter gives a Full Frame equivalent of 840mm - in a recent trip to Costa Rica 80% of my shots were at this reach (birds there are small and other wildlife are very high in the canopy!).
When at home in the UK, I enjoy visiting zoos and bird protection areas, as well as trying to photograph insects in gardens etc. I also travel abroad to enjoy wildlife experiences - Africa and Costa Rica mostly.
I am Secretary and Committee Member at a large Camera Club (Winchester, Hampshire) and enjoy helping to run a large club (200 members). I continue learning a lot from the many excellent photographers (particularly in use of Lightroom and what makes a good image). I don’t use Photoshop. In December I was awarded LRPS - the first distinction level of three awarded by The Royal Photographic Society.