Study Group 2


Natalie Murray (B)

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OCTOBER 2019 ROUND
Title:    White-faced heron shakes off rain.

Goal:  I went out withe intent to shoot water birds fishing in a shallow part of river. I was experimenting with slow shutter speed to get shots of rain during a shower when this heron suddenly shook all its feathers. I think I have captured a slightly unusual portrait, with hair styling inspired by Tina Turner.
  

Equipment/Source:   Canon 6D2, Canon 100-400mm ii lens @ 400mm, ISO 200, f7.1, 1/100 sec.

Technique: These birds are used to people being around so I was able to sit quietly while they moved around me within a few metres. Camera attached to tripod with loose ball head to allow quick repositioning. No time to adjust settings, just fired off a few shots from high speed continuous drive.

Processing:  Crop, tonal adjustments, sharpening, plus lightened area in and around eye. Converted to black and white to reduce background distractions and increase impact. All processing done 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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SEPTEMBER 2019 ROUND

Title:    In a World of Trouble
  
Goal:    There is a spot about an hour's drive from home where egrets and herons can be photographed at close range. They have become used to human company thanks to fishermen and photographers. I made the early morning drive in the hope of getting some action shots. After an hour of no birds I was about to pack up when the tide changed direction in the river. Suddenly the birds started to appear.

Unfortunately the sky clouded over, making high speed shutter images a little challenging, so I'm keen to go back for another go.

Equipment/Source:    Canon 6D2, 100-400mm ii lens @ 400mm, 1/2000, f8, ISO 1000, (-2/3 exp comp).

Technique:   Sitting quietly I was able to observe the fishing behaviour of the egrets. It was then a matter of experimenting with the camera settings, in particular adjusting exposure compensation for the white bird.

Processing: 
 Lightroom for saturation, sharpening, crop, noise reduction, tone adjustments. 


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 think the nature story is there and clear enough for the typical viewer. While perhaps not as dramatic as it might be with larger prey, I still feel it shows enough behavior to warrant a 3 rating.

The technical side of the image looks reasonable for the lighting you had. Primary focus looks to be on the facial area. The DOF is reasonable for the situation and subject. The is some residual structure to the background, but I did not find it to compete with the subject for attention. Be careful where you apply adjustments to things like saturation. In this case it has carried over to the background and in doing so adds emphasis to that area, which you do not want. If you do it in Lightroom, use the Adjustment brush to isolate where it would be applied. My preference for an image of this type would be to make a selection of the bill and eye with the Quick Selection Tool and then use the Sponge Tool on Saturate at about 10% to paint in the saturation to a very controlled area. I’ve made an adjusted version to simulate that. I also feel that, while the sharpness is generally reasonable, adding a bit more can pull detail out of the minnow and improve the crispness of the Egret’s eye. I am scoring the technical quality as 2 primarily because I feel that saturation impact on the background has a negative effect.

Pictorially I feel your composition and cropping are effective in giving the viewer enough to fully understand the story and appreciate it without going over the top. I also feel that the way you have the subject positioned (with the viewer going up the bill to the eye) is the more effective way to show what is taking place. The background is getting very dark. It is difficult to tell from your description whether this is just a side effect of exposing for the white subject or if you have darkened it more, but I wouldn’t try to push it any further than it is. I feel the pictorial quality warrants a score of 3.

N-3, T-2, P-3 = 8


Review by Larry T

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
As displayed this image does have a story line as it shows the Great White Egret clutching its meal in its bill. This clearly shows a story line. However the pose and image carries more of a portrait feel to it than a dynamic or compelling story line. Thus I will only award a score of 2

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
When viewed in the thumbnail format the image almost looks sharp, at least in the eye of the fish and bird. However when enlarged it is clearly not sharp. In such a close up view as it is presented there should be clarity in the feathers on the bird’s neck and there is none visible. For the sake of clarity I want to note the following. You indicate that you cropped the image and you final image shows an extreme close up of the bird’s head. You are also using ISO 1000. If your crop is extreme (you would have had to be awfully close with a 400mm lens) then perhaps some of the loss of clarity could be due to the crop. Additionally, such a high ISO could be a contributing factor to the lack of sharpness. Regardless, the image is soft. You note that you were shooting in a cloudy environment. This may have worked in your favor as when you are shooting in bright light it is most difficult to photograph a white bird without blowing out the whites. It is usually advisable to photograph white birds when the light is softer such as early morning, early evening or on cloudy days. Since you indicate that you will be going back I urge you to consider choosing the most advantageous weather conditions.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The overall composition works well enough for this image. You have a wonderful background consisting of an almost solid color with a beautiful bokeh. The combination of the dark background and the white bird allows the bird to fairly pop out in the final image. The bird’s eye is on one of the right fixation points and the diagonal line of the bill acts as a strong leading line. You did well to not over saturate the image.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Andy H

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
There is a story here but I feel it could have been stronger

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Image could be a little sharper. Exposure is very difficult in these situations and I think you have done reasonably well but the whites lack some detail. A smaller aperture would have allowed a lower ISO. I’m not sure why your shutter speed was so high unless the birds were moving a lot.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
This is a close in shot and shows the birds head and beak, and caught fish. At this level everything must be sharp. Some separation between the neck and body would help. Lacks impact for me.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Dennis H

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Nice nature study of egret with catch.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Bird lacks detail in feathers and is a little soft.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The image certainly has impact with good composition.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8


Review by Martin P

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
I can't help but wonder how hungry the bird must be feeding on such small fish :) Certainly a classic pose and subject

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I looked at this image quite a few times. I am feeling like the whites/feather detail may well be blown in some areas, especially on the head. The sharpness of the eye/beak are almost there, but not quite "pin" sharp.. I do wonder if that is doen to the size they are presented to us at.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Nice strong image with a supportive background. i am enjoying the shape of the neck in particular, shame it does cross over the body.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Louis P

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
strong nature story

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
well done, very sharp, great bokeh, no catch-light in bird's eye, perhaps could have used a little more adjustment in order to see more detail in the white feathers

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
excellent impact and composition; bird really stands out.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8


Review by Bruce F

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
In my eye, there is enough behavior, a fish captured in an Egret’s beak. That the portrait style of the image, and the lack of habitat, are not enough to downgrade the nature story. I especially like the fish’s eye is present to the viewer. This is key and adds to the drama and emotional impact of a little minnow last moments of life.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The depth of field is adequate. Personally, I would like a little more so the neck portion of the egret on the right edge would include some texture and feather detail. Also, the feathers on top of the head appear a little soft too. White is difficult to capture detail in, your -2/3 exposure helped. I might in post-processing pull the highlights down a bit and add a small amount of structure to see I could pull a little more texture-out of these areas. Under this light, with a 26 MB full-frame sensor, I would have used a higher ISO, like 2000, this would have allowed me to increase the depth of field in these areas by using a f16 aperture, without allowing problematic noise—noise that cannot be removed or reduced by noise reduction software.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I love background. It’s dark, and that shows the subjects white feathers extremely well. Light against dark, each strengthen the other. The diagonal position of the beak and the place of the head and the minnow on each end of the diagonal works extremely well. Composition is excellent and very natural for the birds fishing behavior and form.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8
















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.