Study Group 2


Sylvia Wallis (C)

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JULY 2019 ROUND
Title:    Fly with prey
 
   
Goal:    I went out with a friend one day with only a macro lens as an exercise in attempting macro shots - something which I always struggle with - maybe a lack of patience on my behalf. As you start focusing in on the smaller aspects of life, you start noticing many interesting things. I initially was drawn to this fly due to its colour, however when I was taking the photos I noticed that it had some sort of prey and was rolling it around and wrapping it up. A very fun day was had with frogs, bees, flies, plants and flowers. 
  
Equipment/Source:    Olympus OMD-EM1 Mkii
Olympus m.60 f/2.8 macro lens@ 60mm
ISO 200 @ f/8.0 - 1/100s
Handheld

Technique:   I focused using back button focusing and then waited for the fly to stop moving before taking the shot. I used the burst mode on my camera to take a series of images. 

Processing:    Cropping and small exposure 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.

A defined nature story is present. I my opinion, it would be stronger with a lower angle of view so that we could see more into the facial area to better see the interaction with the prey. That said, I feel the story is clear enough to warrant a 3. The fly is most likely one of the group classified as “long legged flies”. There are quite a few variants and a specialist is often needed to refine an ID beyond that general group classification. They are predatory as we can see from your shot.

Technically primary focus looks to be in the area, but is not optimal on the fly itself when I view it at 200%. That doesn’t surprise me given the F8 aperture and the fact that you were hand holding. A very satisfactory correction can be had by using the newer Topaz Sharpen AI program with a Focus correction setting. The exposure is handled well for the lighting present. There is enough texture in the leaf to provide a realistic background without becoming competitive with the subject in any way.

Pictorially, I feel the composition works as you have shown it. I did find it slightly stronger for me when flipping the image horizontally placing the subject in the lower right quadrant. Some may prefer a slightly tighter crop. I found the spacing quite comfortable. The presence of the shadow is a visual and pictorial plus and improves the interest value of the image. There may be a tendency to want a little more contrast so that it is stronger, but I do not feel that this is necessary personally. The yellow / brownish dot just above the prey is a visual distraction that can be lessened to a degree by burning it in and desaturating it slightly.

N-3, T-2, P-2 = 7 (T-2 slight lack of critical focus on fly thorax and head. P-2 Probably seems harsh, but the spot above the prey is disruptive enough in the context of the image that I feel it does weaken the image.)


Review by Andy H.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
The eating of the prey takes this from a basic shot to a shot with a story.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-positive nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Your explanation of your technique all sounds right. There are some focusing issues with the image. The front wing is not in focus and draws my eye. Like you I struggle with Macro. Have you tried extension tubes? Another approach is to use auto focus to get into range then switch to manual focus, easy with the clutch arrangement on the EM1 MkII, then move in and out to get the focus spot on. Background green to heavy saturated try to tone down.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Like the juxtaposition of the fly and the shadow beneath the fly. Crop top and RHS. Try 3/4 view 5 or 7 o'clock and a little lower.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Natalie M.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
An action shot in the tiny world of insects is a good find.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-positive nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
It seems as though you have used a radial filter in Lightroom to lighten the area around the fly an in this case it has shown up because of the plain background. I would have preferred a larger depth of field to get the leading edge of the wing sharp. Colour looks good, I know how iridescent green these flies actually are.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Composition is good, a closer view of the prey would create more impact.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by William S.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Although it is difficult to see what the fly has captured this seems to be a nature event.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-positive nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
It is very difficult to capture a macro image of an animated fly because macro lens have very shallow depth of field even at f8. You don’t indicate what software you used to process the image but I would suggest reducing the highlights for better detail especially in the wings. There also seems to be a vignette around the fly which does seem to direct the eye to the subject.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The composition is good. I think that reversing the image horizontally and reducing the highlights would add more impact.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Isabella Z.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Even I read the description, however I could hardly tell this fly has a prey in his hand/mouth. If that's the case I feel this is just a basic shot.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I love the color and how you brightened up the fly to make it popped out.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I am a fan of "rule of 1/3" so the composition makes me comfortable.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8


Review by Louis P.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
fits the bill very well

SCORE N (Nature) 3-positive nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
wonderful shot; good detail. in my opinion you are well on your way to becoming an expert macro photographer. However, I was distracted by the yellow "ball" in front of fly; seems like image would be improved by: a little more contrast between insect and leaf, by shooting (if possible) towards the face, and by catching the eyes.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
wonderful, impactful image

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8


Review by Dennis H.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Good nature image of fly rolling up its prey.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-positive nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The fly shows good colour and definition on head, top wing and legs and also prey. Appears to have a halo surrounding fly.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The shadow detracts somewhat from the image. Also the fly could be enhanced by cropping more from the righthand side.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Larry T.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
While we all have seen a fly a doubt many look this closely. This beautiful image of a fly with prey certain demonstrates a solid nature story

SCORE N (Nature) 3-positive nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
You camera technique is well chosen. The image is sharp and has good colors. The depth of field is enough to capture the fly without any blue. I don’t know what you used for a background but it work quite well. The show stealer is the wonderful beam of light and the shadow below the fly. In my opinion it is the shadow that makes the image. I feel you used light to create impact This is well done. The one flaw in the image is the glare on the wing. A CPR filter would have eliminated that problem.

Have you removed the glare I would have given this a 10.


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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The composition, with the fly on the lower left fixation point works well as the negative space throughout the image. There is simply nothing to distract the eye so you have forced the viewer to see just the fly.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8

IF APPLICABLE, WHY DESERVING OF EXTRA POINT FOR EXCELLENCE
The composition, with the fly on the lower left fixation point works well as the negative space throughout the image. There is simply nothing to distract the eye so you have forced the viewer to see just the fly.

SCORE E (Exceptional) 1

GRAND TOTAL WITH EXTRA POINT 9


Review by Martin P.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
This image certainly highlights the struggle in nature to survive and flourish even down to creatures of this size. I feel this creates a strong nature element to this image

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Whilst mostly sharp and well exposed I feel there are a couple of issues which reduce the overall impact of the image. A narrower aperture would have given more depth of field which I feel would really improve the image. The large highlights on the front wing do draw the eye away from the head.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The large expanse of neutral green I feel works very well as a backdrop for the image. I do wonder if removing some of the green on the right would have made the creature larger in the frame and thus increased its impact. I am also not sue what the yellow round shape is just in front of the prey is. Still a strong image and the iridescent body comes across very well.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Janice R.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Nice capture of the puffin during nest building

SCORE N (Nature) 3-positive nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Sharp image with good DoF. The head, eye and body of the bird are sharp while the wings are blurred showing the motion. Nice, pleasing and non distracting background blur.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
This is a very nice image of the gathering part of the next building behavior sequence.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 9


Upload Next Round's Image and Description
JUNE 2019 ROUND

Title:     Wasps
 

Goal:   To photograph wasps building nests and to show the different stages of development with the larvae in several of the spaces. In doing so I learnt a valuable lesson when I went that one step too close - the wasp which is staring me down did a lightning speed attack and got me on the finger. It was back at its’ lookout perch before I could blink. 

Equipment/Source:    Olympus OMD-EM1
Panasonice 100-400mm f/4-6.3 lens @ 400mm
ISO 200 @ 1/40sec
Handheld

Technique:  One step at a time close to the subject which was about 5m away. Focus point was on the wasp located along the middle of the palm leaf which is staring me down. I liked this point of view as it showed several specimens going about the business of building the nest, one in profile and two looking directly at me whilst also showing the larvae in two of the spaces.  

Processing:   
Cropping, exposure and colour balance (to remove yellow)

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 feel the nature story is clear and shows sufficient behavioral aspects to be at the 3 level. The inclusion of the wasps and nest would not normally be sufficient. However, two are positioned on the actual nest structure in a way that is indicative that they are working on the nest cells. In addition, you captured an angle of view that shows the egg / larva with in the cell and that adds significantly to the story value. 

The exposure looks reasonable for the lighting present. The downside is the bright stripe on the background leaf, but the effect of that is more a pictorial aspect. Primary focus looks good to me and sharpness and depth of field both look reasonable to me. Ideally, I would like the left nest strata to be sharper, but I do not feel this is a significant issue as it is.

Pictorially your composition is a bit on the tight side. A little more room above the wasp upper left and to the side of the one lower right would make the image feel less restricted. I appreciate that you were likely trying to control the background as much as possible. As I noted in the technical comments, the background is the main issue with the image. That bright stripe is strong enough that it just pulls the eye away from the primary subject. There is not a lot we can do under the nature rules to deal with it. You could do a “pictorial use only” version of the image and eliminate it in that version. I do like the positioning of the main wasps as we see different physical information in each position. I would dodge the two cells with the eggs so that they are more readily seen and that aspect of the story comes across more clearly. I am sending along an adjusted version to give you some feel for where you might be able to take the image. I am not happy with it as I feel that burning in the stripe makes it look adjusted no matter what you try, but dropping the saturation and contrast on the area does help to some degree. I’ve also dodged the cells with the eggs and done a little on the four key wasps as well.

Sorry to hear you got stung in pursuit of the image. Always keep in mind that, unlike bees, wasps do not lose their stinger. That wasp could have stayed on your finger and stung repeatedly, so it would seem that it was in fact telling you that you had come too close and were being warned to back off.

N-3, T-3, P-2 = 8 (P-2 The background remains a visual weakness. Some modification is possible, but it would be unlikely to cure the issue entirely.)


Review by Larry T.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
If I could, I would award points for either your bravery or recklessness—I’m not sure which. You do earn the Purple Heart for being injured in the line of duty.

As you note you have captures several specimens doing wasp things, such as being on guard and working on the nest. The addition of the larvae simply seals the deal. You have a unique nature story line.


SCORE N (Nature) 3-positive nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The appearance of this photo falls in to that category of almost macro work. The downside of this is that the hive cells on the left are very much out of focus and this fact is clearly visible and detracts from the image. You do have sharp specimens so your shutter, although slow, did the job. First I assume the camera was on a tripod do to the slow shutter, that your you really have steady hands. The ISO is quite low and I feel raising it to somewhere between 400 and 800 would allow you to use a higher fstop and thus obtain greater depth of field and perhaps save those hive cells on the left.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The processing and composition work well with this image. You state you removed yellow, thus enhancing blue. The only wasps I know of are a bit on the brown side with yours are a bit purple/blue. I do not know if the wasps in your locale actually are this color or if it a product of your processing. So for the purpose of this critique, I will not deduct from your score.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Ken W.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Nice story of wasp and nest

SCORE N (Nature) 3-positive nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
not all of the wasps were in focus, this could have been due to the slow shutter speed of 1/40sec, you didn't include the F stop that the photo was taken in, but the iso could have been increased to get a faster shutter speed.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The portions of the photo that did not include a leaf were bright, leading your eye away from main subject. There could have been more detail in the wasps.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by William S.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Good nature shot showing the wasp working and guarding their territory. It looks like they are building it on a small tree limb.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-positive nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The backlight exposure is good and the image is reasonably sharp on the right side leaving the left side a little soft. After reading your processing statement I added some yellow and a little red to the image and thought that it was an improvement. The wasp and the hive became brown and tan. I know that some nests appear gray because of the materials used but the insects are usually some shade of brown.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I like the line angle in the composition but think that the cool color balance reduces the impact it could have.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Hattie S.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Very nice nature capture. Sorry about your finger.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-positive nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
You have a very steady hands. 1/40 is a bit risky for 400mm. Personally I would feel safer to faster shutter but you pulled it off. Could use more sharpness. Cannot tell what aperture you used. The left bottom corner is a bit too blurry which catching more eyeballs than needed.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE


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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8


Review by MJ Springett
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Story is there for those who know the natural history

SCORE N (Nature) 3-positive nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I feel that the lighting is uneven and detracts from the story

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
This is a mishmash of elements with no clear uniting feature

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7

IF APPLICABLE, WHY DESERVING OF EXTRA POINT FOR EXCELLENCE
This point for being stung in the process

SCORE E (Exceptional) 1

GRAND TOTAL WITH EXTRA POINT: 8














Hi, new member Sylvia here. Photography is my creative outlet and I enjoy many aspects of this discipline including landscape, street, travel and nature - especially chasing down our feathered friends. I am looking to learn, enhance and improve my thought processes on what it takes to take a great nature shot through this group.