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AUGUST 2019 ROUND
Title: Coral under water
Goal: A large proportion of all life on Earth lives in the ocean. The exact size of this large proportion is unknown, since many ocean species are still to be discovered. The ocean is a complex three-dimensional world covering approximately 71% of the Earth's surface. My intended goal was to set foot into this vastly unexplored natural habitat and document nature which is a new beginning to my natural species hunt.
Equipment/Source: went in with the Hero GoPro 5 with 1/1000 shutter speeds and 200 ISO.
Technique: the initial part became all too scary for me when I donned the scuba mask and initiated into the underwater breathing exercise. Then I went into the deep seas where the corals are and in order to suppress the eerie feeling in my guts turned my total attention to photographing the underwater realm and voila! my entire being was free from the bone chilling feelings and I was engulfed by the sheer beauty of the ocean flora and fauna. Once I settled in turned the shutter speeds to 1/1000 part of a second and the iso to 200 in order to get the maximum output from the low filtered sunlight through water. It being a rainy time and without the additional light source I had to tatally depend on the filtered light source so I tried to keep the sunlight coming from my front instead of the back which we usually do above ground.
Processing: since the pictures are captured in 4000x3000x72 with 24 bit depth, I just processed with a bit of sharpening and a little contrast added
Comments/Scores (N, T, P, E, Total)Critique Image (only members of Study Group Two may critique this image)
Review by commentator Rick C.
Sounds like quite an adventure. A couple of things to start with as they may well be affecting your image quality in the posting. The first is that this is a png file rather than a jpeg. PNG will accept a different color space and this one came through as “untagged rgb” which can mean windows or Macs may interpret it differently than you think. The second issue was that this was only a little over 600 on the long edge and so it doesn’t really give us a good file to view for things like sharpness.
From a nature perspective the subject easily qualifies and there is a nature story present. These underwater formations are active colonies of living organisms, but from a practical perspective we tend to view images of them more in the vein that we would use for a botany subject because the actual organisms and their activity are hidden from us beyond the structure they have created. On that basis I would consider this to be an environmental portrait and assign a nature value of 2 as we lack the discernable behavior needed to raise it beyond that level.
Underwater photography presents many challenges, as I’m sure you have learned. You made a good choice in dealing with shooting under ambient lighting, but then have to make the choice in post processing to decide if the color cast that will be present when shooting underwater in what amounts to filtered lighting is desirable. In most instances I feel you will want to at least partially offset it if not correcting to what we would consider an unfiltered state (that is to remove the color cast entirely). In this case, I did fully correct and I feel it shows your subject much more effectively. The second technical consideration is relative to sharpening. Again, water acts like a diffuser and so effectively softens an image more than normally seen in a land capture. To offset that we will normally want to apply stronger sharpening to compensate for that. A final consideration is the debris that is commonly floating (suspended) in any body of water. When using flash for illumination we see it as what is known as “back scatter”, but It is there even in ambient light. You can see it in the open water in the upper corners of the frame. Because of the need for added sharpening, we will also often want to apply some noise reduction in those open areas to eliminate what will look like noise to a viewer. The use of noise reduction is appropriate for offsetting the sharpening and does not constitute the removal of something that was part of the observation. Your primary focus looks good to me as does the depth of field. The subject itself looks less than optimally sharp, but that may well be due in part to the small size in the image submitted. The image as it shows, looks underexposed by about a stop, but as I noted above, that may be due to the interpretation of the png file. The complicating factors of the png file and small size leave me with questions on how the image might have shown. I do feel color correction and additional sharpening are appropriate and so I am limiting my Technical rating to 2. That is higher than I might have given had the image been a fully sized jpeg should it have looked the same.
In almost any capture situation we will opt to center the subject to get the advantage of the most sensitive focus points and to allow room for any potential movement. That is doubly true in underwater imaging as we are moving as well as the subject. We need to address that in post processing. The composition as submitted is reasonable from a capture perspective, though I might have wished for enough space over the top of the formation to avoid the touch merger on that edge. I do feel it is centered and therefore unnecessarily static as shown. Given the nice open area on the right side, I would crop on the left to move the key element more out of the center and improve the visual tension and dynamics of the image. I mentioned correction of the color cast under technical, but it also has an impact pictorially as it impedes contrast and lowers the interest values in the image. That said, I am not double counting it in the pictorial rating of 2.
N-2, T-2, P-2 = 6 (see the adjusted version I sent relative to offsetting the color cast, sharpening, and a slight crop modification)
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JULY 2019 ROUND
Title: Look at the Eye
Goal: Vision is the most important sense for birds, since good eyesight is essential for safe flight. Birds of prey like this kingfisher have a very high density of receptors and other adaptations that maximise visual acuity. The placement of their eyes gives them good binocular vision enabling accurate judgement of distances of fish under the water. The eyelids of a bird are not used in blinking. Instead the eye is lubricated by the nictitating membrane, a third concealed eyelid that sweeps horizontally across the eye like a windscreen wiper. The nictitating membrane also covers the eye and acts as a contact lens in many aquatic birds when they are under water. When sleeping, the lower eyelid rises to cover the eye in most birds.
I got lucky while I was shooting in burst mode in the bird hide this kingfisher let me see its nictitating membrane.
Equipment/Source: used my tried and tasted D750 with 200-500 nikon.
Technique: used f6.3 for the narrow DOF and 1/2500 for the quick capture and to compensate used 400 ISO. shot in burst.
Processing: lightened the shadows and dowsed the highlights only
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