Study Group 2


Suman Bhattacharyya, MPSA, ARPS, EFIAP/b·

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FEBRUARY 2020 ROUND
Title:    Kickboxing 
     
Goal:    I had a notion that usually wild animals fight for supremacy of the Alpha male or for that matter the right to mate and that too at the end of the day. So when at the first morning I was greeted at the Mara with this kickboxing between zebra males I was taken aback and promptly shot with the last settings I had which allowed very little light into the sensor and as a result of that the entire frame is pixelated so much. 

Equipment/Source:    Shot with Nikon D750 with Nikkor 70-200mm. 2.8, ISO 400, f8, 1/640 at 195 mm with multi segment metering mode or matrix mode.

Technique:    took a direct angle from the vehicle by keeping low and using the seat as base with lens resting on bean bag. used the floor of the vehicle to sit and look at the scene and grasped with short bursts of shutter.

Processing:    processed in PS with so much noise to handle converted into monochrome to suit the noise. may be due to the extreme low light situation gathered such huge pixalation which I need nature club members as well as mentors guidance to control.


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

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

Review by commentator Rick C.
Excellent action and a solid nature story. Definitely would appear to be an assertion of dominance by the one coming over the top and biting. The other does not have its mouth open and so seems far more passive. Nature story value is 3.

You’ve already noted much of the technical issues with the image. Focus looks good and the shutter speed has captured the action well. After that it really gets lost in the noise. Given how much a BW conversion can effectively amplify the appearance of grain / noise, I almost wish you had put in the color original so that we could get a better feel for how bad it is in the source. As it stands the noise is definitely excessive and there is enough in the way of tonal similarity to say that some of the action in the male that is being aggressive is being lost because the head lines are so close to the other’s body tonality. Again, some of that may be associated with the conversion. As it stands, the weaknesses are enough to hold it so a rating of 1 for me.

You captured the action well. I am less convinced we need to have the space above and below and feel a panel would do as well. I would love to be able to crop down to that dark line and (Baboon?) but can’t come in tight enough to eliminate them without feeling too cramped. I would still crop to more of a panel. Pictorial rating is 2. (I am not penalizing both technical and pictorial for the impact of the noise but it does affect both aspects.)

N-3, T-1, P-2 = 6 (See my adjusted version. First hit overall is with Imaginomic’s Noiseware Pro. The resharpen subjects masked to just subjects, then adjust tonality in Camera Raw Filter, then flatten and duplicate layer and apply second shot of Noiseware pro masked to just background. Finally dodge and burn zebras and crop to panel.)


Review by Larry T

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
The fighting for territory or mating rights clearly demonstrates a solid nature story line. The tension and bracing shown in the position of hind legs of the zebra on the left matched with the zebra on the right having its hind legs lifted into the air adds to the action and drama of the scene.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The camera and lens choice are adequate for the image I feel there is a major issue in the camera settings that impact the final image. The tremendous amount of noise shown (especially in the background) indicates that this image was underexposed when captured. The D750 can easily handle ISO rating much higher than the 400 you used for this capture. With out knowing how much this was under exposed I can only guess but increasing the ISO to at least 1600 would certainly have helped. The 70-200mm lens is one of Nikon’s best and as such you could have shot at an f4 and probably maintained sharpness of the subjects Since your focal length was 195mm I’m certain the subjects were at the infinity focus range of the lens. As you indicate the light was fading perhaps you should have had your camera set to auto-ISO with a selected range of ISO settings between 400 and 1600. Thus in the low light you could set the shutter speed and the camera would have selected a higher ISO for you.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
There are several methods that could have been used to reduce the noise that is shown throughout the image. Masking the two zebras and then reducing the noise of the rest of the image is one method and it may be the easiest.

You might want to go to youtube and look for Steve Perry’s Backcountry Gallery. There you will find many videos that may help solve some of the issues you are having with this image. I especially suggest his program on Auto – ISO. Try this link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tos-RK7zgBU

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Janice R

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
I think this is an interesting image that was well timed as the faces of both animals is visible. Very nice behavioral image.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Nice contrast in the animals though overall the image seems a bit dark. Subject is sharp & DoF is good.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I love the curve of the neck over the zebra on the left. My only criticism is that the animals are so close they run together which, I feel, diminishes the impact.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Dennis H

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Good nature story with fighting zebras.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Not sure why your image turned out this way as your camera settings look good.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I think the image would be improved by cropping the foreground and top of the image.

SCORE P (Pictorial Quality) 1-Inadequate composition and impact

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Tom K

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
I like the story and I feel it is a good nature shot as it depicts an interesting interaction with Zebras.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE

I have always found that black and white is not well received in Nature competitions. A lot of pixelization, but good tonality for a black and white.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I'm not sure if the 2x3 aspect ratio is the best for this photo. I think a 16x9 might work better as the background at the top and bottom add nothing to the composition and this would eliminate some less interesting parts.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Natalie M

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Well seen to capture this action shot.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
As you have mentioned, the image quality is poor due to being underexposed. you've done well to freeze the action at 1/640, you just needed a much higher ISO for the low light conditions.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The composition is good, with the cat in the background adding a little something extra. Unfortunately the image quality causes a decrease in overall impact.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Andy H

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Strong story and good interaction between the two zebra

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Suman you made it clear to us that the light conditions were very poor though I am surprised that the Nikon was giving so much noise at ISO 400. Was this near darkness? Im currently shooing Scottish wildcats under floodlights at ISO 25,600 and using Topaz DeNoise to recover.
I've got to go for a 1, sorry.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Image has impact but the composition could be better.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Malena K

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Nice to see the zebras in the wild however would have like to see the kickboxing action maybe in mid air. If I was to look at this image without the story it'd look like a zebra laying over another.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The B&W works for it. Looks sharp and composition good.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE


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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Bruce F

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
A very strong nature story showing Male Zebra’s fighting. Hard to tell visually from the action whether its young males fighting to establish dominance or a real serious fight to over throw the dominant stallion and his position and right to mate with the females in his harem. Thus, I would stay with just male zebra’s fighting for my title and description.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
To me, the issue with this image is technical, as you also noted in your image description. As a nature image, I believe the noise and grain is too much to overcome technically. You can present the image as an artistic one, and emphasize the grain and the noise. Otherwise, I just think you need to say to yourself that this capture is technically flawed. Maybe, some day there will be the technical solution for images like this one, and because of the story, I would keep it for that possible future day.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Compositional, I think your subject are the right size in the frame. I might crop a bit off the bottom, for there is a lot of foreground grass and plains that isn’t adding value to the composition. Removing some might enhance the flow of the mind to the Zebra subjects a bit better.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Upload Next Round's Image and Description
JANUARY 2020 ROUND

Title:    catch of prey 
   
Goal:     when I first saw the ground horn-bill pair my first thinking was how to come to the eye level of the bird? after a careful watch I saw the bird pair are searching for food and after getting it toss them to their mouth. Since before I had a bit of experience with Bee-Eaters tossing too a chance to catch it in action. 
 
Equipment/Source:    for this shot I used the Nikon D750 for its facility of shooting at 7 fps and attached the 200-500 lens Nikon offers. used the highlight based metering with 400 ISO in shutter priority mode. aperture recorded is 7.1 at 400 mm
 
Technique:    used the floor of the vehicle to get a near head of the bird height and a bean bag to rest the lens for vibration reduction.

Processing:   
  used a square format to render maximum focus on to the bird and left it at that. 

  

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

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

Review by commentator Tom S.

This image looks flat and dull on my monitor in Firefox, however in Photoshop, it isn’t flat and dull.  The problem is that it doesn’t have a color space so Firefox forces it to have the full color profile of my monitor, which is Adobe RGB (1998).  It should have an sRGB color space, which is the standard for the Internet.  Please make sure your images have an sRGB color space before unloading them. 

 Nice story of the ground hornbill eating a bug, which is a good nature story.  However, the huge problem is the image is mostly out of focus.  Only the front of the bird’s left shoulder and front of the neck are in reasonable focus.  You didn’t mention what shutter speed you used, so some of the blur might be motion blur.   I know ground hornbills are black, but the front of the bird is blocked up with no texture at all and can’t be lightened.  Good position in the frame and facing to the left also helps the image.

N3, T1, P3 = 7


Review by Janice R

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
sharp image of the bird in a typical behavioral pose

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Good color balance and focus. Eye of the subject is sharp, adequate DoF for front of bird. The crop is a bit tight as the bird, who seems to be engaging in activity, seems crowded.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Nice portrait with good feather sharpness and detail. My eye enjoys looking at the detail of the bird but then goes to the beak and out of the frame.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Larry T

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
There is an adequate nature story portraying the horn-bill devouring prey. However in this case, the dark coloration of the horn-bill and the dark color of the prey when added to the extremely small size of the pray make it difficult to see. Perhaps if the actual prey was shown on the background of the grass it would be easier to spot, but as shown it lack visibility.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Technically the image is properly captured, as the bird is mostly sharp (there is some fall off on the wings) so perhaps setting the camera to a higher aperture thus gaining DOF would solve the problem.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The composition in the square format certainly draws attention to the bird itself. However I do find the dark areas on the front of the bird to be objectionable as they show as black holes. Bringing up the shadows and adding sharpness to the feathers on the right side of the bird would resolve this issue. The bright red color does draw the eye of the viewer. With the mostly hidden prey matched with the rather static pose and the portrait type format I find myself feeling that this is little more than a portrait.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Martin P

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
The nature behaviour is clearly shown here with our striking looking creature obviously tossing its lunch in the air and hopefully catching it.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The striking colours of black and red really leap off the page to create a very striking impact. I am however, concerned at the shadow detail under the breast of the bird as I cannot see any feather detail especially compared to the top of the birds wings. The depth of field appears to be well managed with a reasonably diffuse background. We do see some bright distracting elements in the background

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The image certainly is impactful and striking, but is slightly let down by the exposure of the black elements. The background greens are well handled and support the overall image. The brighter distracting elements do draw your eye away from the key element of the bug and the beak

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Natalie M

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
The story is there, well seen.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Good exposure of the black bird enabling good feather detail.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Some separation between the insect and the beak would have made for a stronger image (not an easy task, I realise). I think the square crop works, but I would prefer more room in the top left corner.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8


Review by Charlie Y

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
nice capture of a clear nature story

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
nice capture of bird feeding.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
pleasing image, since capture feed are small, might consider crop in further to focus on upper half of bird for feeding motion.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Ken W

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Nice photo of a horn-bill catching an insect.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The focus is very sharp, most of the bird and landscape has good exposure. There are parts of the bird that are dark without any detail. I thought that the eye was a little dark also, and it could be lightened a little. There is a blade of grass to the left of the bird that is very bright. It could be darkened a little.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The square format works well for the bird, and it is composed nicely.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8

My name is Suman Bhattacharyya. I've an avid interest in nature & wildlife. I have been taking photos of nature from 2014 but only in 2017 I've taken membership of PSA. I am a member of FIAP (being an EFIAP) as well as RPS (having ARPS). I like all types of nature photos and am willing to commit time to know more about it. Thanks & Regards