Study Group 2


Natalie Murray (B)

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AUGUST 2019 ROUND
Title:   Kingscliff Beachscape
    
Goal:   Landscapes are not something I attempt very often, however I discovered these beautiful mossy rocks while on the hunt for osprey. I returned the next morning armed with a more suitable lens and a tripod to make the most of this lovely scene. 
  

Equipment/Source:   Canon 6D2, Canon 24-105mm lens @ 32mm, f14, 4sec, ISO 400.

Technique:  I looked at composing the shot to use the sand patterns as leading lines. To capture the movement of the waves I used a tripod and 10 stop ND filter. I experimented with a few different shutter speed combinations, this one was my favourite.

Processing:  Cropping, tone and saturation adjustments,sharpening in Lightroom.


Comments/Scores (N, T, P, E, Total)
   Critique Image (only members of Study Group Two may critique this image)


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JULY 2019 ROUND

Title:   White-faced heron preening.
  
Goal:   I was trying to stalk water birds in the late afternoon with the hope of getting some nice shots in the afternoon light. This heron flew up on to a dead tree branch. I was able to get an action shot with nice rim lighting around the feathers.

Equipment/Source:   Canon 6D2, 100-400mm lens@400mm, f6.3, 1/500sec, ISO 4000.

Technique:  This was taken just before sunset.
Position to optimise light and background. Manual mode with auto ISO, tripod with loose ball head.

Processing:   
Lightroom for cropping, tone adjustments, saturation, sharpening, and selective noise reduction. For the noise reduction I used a graduated filter over the whole image and then "painted" the noise back in over the bird to try to keep feather detail.  

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

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

Review by commentator Rick C.

You did capture a nice action shot of the preening behavior.

Pictorially your composition and sharpness are good. The soft background gives you good subject isolation.  The branches form a nice frame for the heron.

Technically it does appear slightly overexposed but that could be due to differences in the brightness of our monitors. The whites on the heron’s face are definitely washed out but the conversion to jpeg has removed all the pixel information in that area.  Dodging on a raw version could restore some texture there. You do have a slight noise problem in the background that does not really show up until the image is looked at full screen on a large screen.

N3, T2, P3, E0, Total 8


Review by Robert D.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Lovely shot of this heron preening on a branch

SCORE N (Nature) 3-positive nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Darkening the bird would increase the impact. The background is beautiful. The branch on which the bird id perched is very over exposed.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Nice composition

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Adrian B.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
A nice image Natalie! I like the window created by the (dead?) tree and branch, with your heron on one leg. The image title helps if there was doubt in the viewer's mid what is happening. So enough of a story for me.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-positive nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
There is too much brightness in the image for me, drawing the eye to the background, particularly below the bird. This I am sure is rectifiable. I would also darken the rear feathers. Finally, the right branch is also too light.

I use Lightroom only and feel the above could be done using the Whites and highlight sliders after selecting the targets.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
As said above, a pleasing image - just requiring some computer time. While the impact isn't there yet, it is there enough IMHO for a 3 here.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8


Review by Larry T.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE

While the action of the heron scratching his neck does provide a bit of interest to the image I feel this is still pretty basic bird behavior and thus does not show a strong nature story line.


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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The first thing that strikes me is a general softness to the bird. While this may be due to the exceptionally high ISO it still does not make the bird look pleasing. Perhaps an increase in clarity or in contrast in conjunction with the steps you have already taken would make a difference. I also feel the exposure is a bit on the high side. The whites of the bird’s face exhibit on detail and because it is the fact, where the eye is naturally drawn I find it objectionable. Bringing the exposure down would have the added effect of making the branch a bit darker and not so bright.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Pictorially, the frame within a frame is interesting and sets the bird in its environment. I believe the use of Lightroom’s adjustment brush to bring down highlights of the branch will help keep it from competing with the bird for eye contact. Finally, the exposure of the entire image should be brought down.



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 there. The preening action with the leg scratching the feathers on the side of its face take the story up a level from a portrait. You caught behavior here, and that’s what makes a good nature story.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-positive nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I looked up the specification for the 6D Mark II to see the release date, megapixels, and the Canon sensor details. I still see, noise in the background. I believe that even for this full-frame camera with a DIGIC 7 Image Processor, ISO 4000 is just too much not to have some noise issues, even under diffused light, like this image. Personally, I never use Auto ISO… I choose to adjust the ISO depending on lighting conditions. My top ISO for low diffused light with my 7D Mark II body is 2500. Even at 2500, with Nik Dfine 2 noise reduction, I can get backgrounds clear and clean. Above this ISO, I think you are pushing the technical factors too much. Still, I would run a second pass of Nik Dfine 2 on the background to smooth it out, and or use Viveza to reduce the contrast on the background, and/or run a Gaussian blur with a low setting. This should improve the background and remove most of the noise.

I also look up the graduated filter noise reduction technique on the web and watched a Lightroom tutorial, and afterward the results with the method still show noise. If you blow the image up, there is noise remaining, so I personally wouldn’t rely on this technique and prefer to use a separate third-party noise reduction software. I believe they currently provide better results.


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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I like the framing of the dead tree branch and the spider webs. These elements add to the setting and help strengthen the image. The position of the bird within the frame and the curve of the branch on the right sweep the mind around the image and back to the bird as a subject. No of the shapes or lines draw the mind out of the image. Thus, the composition is successful.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8


Review by Bogdan B.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Nice little heron. Photographers usually don't like preening. It seems the birds do that all the time.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The bird seems to be a little bit soft, perhaps due to high ISO.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I don't like central position. You could cut off the whole left main branch.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Linda C.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
The tree lines on each side make it visually more interesting

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Nice color and sharpness. I might have cropped a little more to make the bird stand out more

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Nice picture but not unique

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6















Hello.  I'm Natalie. I live in Brisbane, Australia and have been interested in nature photography for approx 8 years.

Last year I joined my local camera club.  They are a very supportive bunch and I was immediately encouraged to enter club, national, and international competitions.  I am lucky to have a diverse range of birds that live locally or a short drive away, and I also enjoy looking out for the smaller creatures in our botanic gardens.  I shoot primarily with a Canon 6D2 and 100-400mm zoom or 100mm macro lens and edit in Adobe Lightroom.