Study Group 2


Larry Treadwell (D)

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AUGUST 2020 ROUND

Title:     Rare bird  
   
Goal:   To obtain a photograph of an extremely rare bird. I do not expect this image to achieve a high score. I feel the bird itself is the Nature Story simply because no one has seen such a bird in nearly 10 years. I'm posting it here because I thought nature photographers may appreciate just seeing something this rare.  

Equipment/Source:  Nikon D800, Nikkor 200-400 f4 lens, canoe mounted tripod, cable release. Image from Nikon RAW file. ISO 1000, 1/320, f6.3 Burst Mode    
 
Technique:   In the near twilight I was paddling through the everglades heading back to my vehicle when I spotted what I thought was a Great Blue Heron returning to a nest. But the bird just looked wrong. When I reached the nest area I set my tripod up to get a shot showing the detail of the head, the part that struck me as odd. I managed to capture about three images before the bird bedded down for the night. When I got home I pulled the images and all my bird books because I had never seen a feather pattern like this on a Great Blue Heron (The telltale markings are the head and shoulders). I found nothing. So I called a member of the local Audubon chapter and asked if I sent him a copy of the image, would he take a stab at IDing the bird. After I sent the image I went to bed. Less than 20 minutes later my phone was ringing. My friend was in an extreme state of excitement and asking a million questions. Did I have more images, where was the bird? Moments later I learned that what I had spotted was an extremely rare bird known as the Wurdeman Heron. My bird was the result of a freakish cross species breeding between a White Egret and a Great Blue Heron. Sightings of such a bird are very rare, no one in south Florida is on record as having spotted one in nearly 10 years. When I explained that it was nesting he begged me to take him to see the bird. I explained that it was almost a two hour drive to where I launched my canoe and about an hour worth of paddling to get there. With Covid active I would not put him in my car or my canoe but if he wanted to meet me, bring his own canoe and was up for the paddle I would guide him with no guarantees on the bird being there. He agreed. Two days later we were to meet at a parking area along the levees of the everglades. When I arrived at the meeting location I found 9 vehicles, including one pulling an airboat and 16 total people all wanting to go see the bird.

I love to photograph wildlife, but I would rather not get the shot, than harm the animal or disturb its way of life. This meeting looked like a recipe for a disaster. Without getting out of my car I told the gathering group, I did not want to get that close to them due to the Covid, and that I would not, under any conditions, take that mob to the nest site. To me, that mob (with airboat) could frighten the bird away from her nest and maybe she would abandon her eggs or young. I left a yelling and angry group in a parking area as I drove off.  

Processing:   
A fairly heavy crop because I did not want to get to close and spook the bird. It was ore important to capture an image. Noise reduction, lighten shadows, added clarity and limited sharpening. Some dodging on the bird's legs. 

Score this image: YES

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JULY 2020 ROUND
Title:   Quit Bugging Me!  
 
   
Goal:  The one place you do not want to be in south Florida in the spring and summer is the everglades. The bugs are horrible and over centuries of evolution they have perfected their dive bombing skills. It was a rainy morning with leaden skies all of which made the bugs even worse. While trekking through the everglades I came upon this male osprey defending his territory from bugs and my goal became to show how the osprey was tormented by the bugs. These little beasts attack the eyes to get moisture and were buzzing around this osprey’s face. In frustration he screamed, flapped his wings and snapped his beak as they buzzed his face adding to his misery on this soggy morning. Even the king of the skies, was no match for these kamikaze dive bombers and after about 15 minutes, he flew off.  


Equipment/Source:   Nikon D800, 400mm f4 lens with tc1.4. ISO 640, f8, 1/1600. Taken from tripod with gimbal head. 

Technique:  My technique included standing knee deep in the swampy waters while alternately wildly flapping my arms to drive off the attacking bugs as I tried to frame and photograph the osprey. Using the higher aperture along with a fast shutter allowed me to keep both the bird and the pests in focus and avoid motion blur. Between the osprey flapping his wings and turning his head it was difficult to capture the bird’s eye and face while keeping the bugs both visible and in focus.  

Processing:  While the image was shot in the vertical position I still needed to crop some space from the top of the image. The 550mm focal length allowed me to make this a nearly full frame image. I chose the center position for the bird and bugs because expanding the image simply left too much empty space and I felt this composition focused the viewer on the action. The white of the bird’s face and breast acts as an eye catching subject while the curve of the branch, and the direction of the bird’s face lead to the flying pests. I added a bit of sharpening and brought down the highlights. The heavy cloud cover acted as a diffuser to soften the light and avoid hotspots.

Score this image: YES

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

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Review by commentator Tom S.

Larry you caught some amazing action.  I have never seen anything like that before, but the bugs confuse me.  They look like wasps so I am not sure why they would be bothering the osprey, unless the bird was sitting near their nest.  In any case, you have an image with a strong nature story.  Technically, the image is very good.  Very sharp and the exposure is right on.  Since the action is near the top of the image, I would crop up to just below the osprey’s feet to make the action much bigger in the frame.  See my adjusted image.

 Since you mentioned you were fighting bugs while standing in the swamp, I would guess they were more mosquito size rather than wasp size.

 T3, P2, N3, E0 = 8


Review by Haru N.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
You capture the "moment" of nature story as you described. I wish osprey was flapping with wing, which would strengthen your nature story. But well done!

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Your technical strategy worked well. Adequate sharpness on the main subject and aperture. Good work!

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I like the story and image itself very much. My only critique is the composition. If you story is "quit bugging me!", then I would crop drastically to cut latter pa rt of th is image and show only half top of the birds and bugs (and make it landscape). I feel the wood and wings does not add value to your story line in my view.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

EXTRA POINT 0-No extra point

TOTAL SCORE 8


Review by Dennis H

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
You have certainly put a lot of time, thought and effort carrying all that equipment in obtaining this interaction between the Osprey and Bugs in natural setting.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Very good colour and feather detail, eye clear and sharp.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Image has great impact, with good composition. Nice background. Excellent capture.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PIC TORIAL SCORE 3-Excellent composition and impact

EXTRA POINT 1-Exceptional

TOTAL SCORE 10


Review by Natalie M

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
This is a superb image, and a unique image of an osprey story without a fish!

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Looks pretty much perfect to me.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The sharpness of the eye draws the viewer in to the emotion in the image. It's the best osprey photo I've ever seen, I congratulate you on your effort and skill, Larry.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 3-E xcellent composition and impact

EXTRA POINT 1-Exceptional

TOTAL SCORE 10


Review by Andy H

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Great story. I like the unusual nature of the story.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Settings and technical aspects all good in my eyes. Sharp, Clear, well exposed. Great detail.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Your choice of a central position I think is the right one. Image full of impact. Every detail clear to see, beak open, catchlight in eye and bugs sharp. Well done. Well worth the suffering. We have the midge in Scotland, the size of a pin head, a bite like a Tiger!

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 3-Excellent composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 9


Review by Suman B.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
the way you described always enthralls me. beautifully explained and a valid nature story indeed.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
technically this one is a strong image which I must note with its crispness and exposure. couldn't take a point off.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
pictorially although you put on the entire image and the judging guide tells me not to go for tight close ups for higher marks but then you know sometimes rules are meant to be broken and this is that one case. I would advocate f or a clo se up keeping the flys with the angry emotion of the osprey. Just see for yourself the closer crop and I guarantee you would like it.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 1-Inadequate composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 7

I am retired and living the good life in south Florida.  I have always had a love affair with the wilderness and the natural world.  This naturally lead to an interest in photography to bring home memories from my adventures in the wilderness.  I have thus been involved in photography for more than 40 years and have worked as a semi-professional including work for the PGA and LPGA as well as shooting sports for various local colleges. 

My favorite photographic locations are Everglades National Park (the hardest place I’ve ever found to photograph), the Great Smoky Mountains and Rocky Mountain National Park.  That said, I will go anywhere to get a good image.  I enjoy shooting the Milky Way and the night sky, a real challenge, and I enjoy using long exposures.  

I have taught photography on the college level, belong to several local camera groups and have served as a photo judge at local clubs and for other local competitions.  Since retiring I have had several photographic exhibits in south Florida.

I am member of the online group called The Nikonians and shoot Nikon cameras currently using a D800 and D810.  While I have a collection of Nikon only lenses my favorites are my 24-70 and my baby, a 200-400 f4 beast that weighs 7.3 pounds.   My hiking buddy is my tripod that goes everywhere I do.