Study Group 2


Bruce Finocchio (A)

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NOVEMBER 2019 ROUND

Title:    Female Canivet's Emerald Sipping Nectar From A Porterweed Blossom
  
Goal:   My Goal was to capture hummingbirds feeding on the purple Porterweed blossoms. The active was very slow, and much patience was required to capture any images. I only saw this particular hummingbird twice in several hours of waiting and standing behind my lens. The ruby-throated hummingbird also feeding on these blossoms was just too fast, and wouldn’t stay pollenating at each individual blossom long enough to acquire focus and take a picture

Equipment / Source:   7D Mark II Canon Body, 600 mm f4.0 IS Lens, 1.4x teleconverter III, 1/500 sec at f8, ISO 800, Aperture Priority, Matrix Metering. On Gitzo Tripod with a Wimberely Gimbal type head tripod head. 

Technique:   Using a Gitzo trip with the 600 mm lens mounted on a Wimberely Tripod Head II. Standing down from a row of Porterweed plants, waiting to capture images as the hummingbirds came in to feed on the blossoms’ nectar. 

Processing:   Slight crop, and selective noise reduction with Nik Difine 2 software, only on the green background, slight mid-tone contrast enhancement by using the rgb channel that I learned along time ago. Sharpening with the new Topaz Sharpen AI Photoshop Plugin. 

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

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


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OCTOBER 2019 ROUND
Title:     A Lioness Carrying One Of Her Cubs In Her Mouth
 
Goal:   To capture a lioness with one of her cubs in her mouth. I took this image at Ndutu, specifically at the Ndutu Marsh. Where two lionesses were caring for eleven cubs. They hung out in the middle of the marsh during the heat of the day; where there was some dry land, and periodically came out in an effort to join the rest of the pride.

Unfortunately, the Land Rovers would crowd around them, and prevent them from joining the rest of the pride, so they would return to the safety of the marsh. I wrote a blog post about cell phone photographers and their pressuring lions and other predators by getting too close just to snap a cell phone image.    

Equipment / Source:   Canon 7D Mark II body, 600 mm IS f4.0 lens, plus a 1.4x teleconverter II at 1/2000 of second, f11 aperture, ISO 1600, Aperture Priority, Evaluative Metering

Technique:    Resting my 600 mm lens on the top of the Land Rover on a bean bag. 

Processing:    Some selective darkening of the highlights, medium contrast added to the middle tone values with a RGB channel’s technique I learned. Selective Dfine noise reduction on the background and selective pre-sharpening with Nik’s sharpening tool.  


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

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

Review by commentator Dan C.

 You caught nice and appealing nature story with this shot. The mud areas and the dark bottom of the cub add to the story by indicating the scene is taking place in a wet area.  The lioness staring at something that has her concerned off to the side story further enhances the story. She would normally be looking straight ahead.  She was probably concerned about those vehicles crowding her in you mentioned in your back-story.

Pictorially your vertical presentation is effective.  I did investigate reducing the foreground but decided against it because I did not feel the resulting square format was effective and reduced the feeling of motion implied by the body posture.

Technically your subject is nicely sharp and the depth of field works to concentrate the viewer on the lioness and her cub.  Your RGB channel technique to add middle tone contrast helped but a tad more contrast would help.  I suggest using Viveza to add just a tad more contrast and structure before you go to Define for background noise reduction.  This slight enhancement did not prompt me to lower your technical score.  I have included a version of your image with the suggested Viveza adjustment.  Just remember this was done to the jpeg and after the Define adjustment you did.

N3, T3, P3, E0, Total 9


Review by Prasad D

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Adorable image of a lioness carrying its cub. This
breed of mobile crazy people need to be dealt with.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The Shutter speed and ISO could have been lowered.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The Cubs visible face could have added more value.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7
Review by Larry T

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
This is a compelling nature story featuring mom carrying her cub. I really enjoy the fact that you have the mother not only walking but with a turn of her head that adds extra dynamics to the image. It is tender moment well captured.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I applaud your technique and laud your efforts in making others aware of the stress they place on these animals by crowding and disturbing their natural behavior. Your use of a 600mm plus a 1.4 tc certainly means that you were not too close. Using the bean bag to dampen vibration was a great idea. If I was to offer a suggest to improve this remarkable image I would suggest shooting at an even lower angle that you already have. The low angle would add drama and power to the lioness and make the image that much more compelling. The choice of F11 meant the even the tip of the tail is in focus and improves the image.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Your subtle post work kept the image with more natural tone and imparts a realistic feel to the final product. I feel the vertical crop is a good choice for this image as it focuses the eye on the subject more than a horizontal image would.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 9


Review by Dennis A.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Good image with a story. However, I feel the story is not very strong.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
It looks sharp and balanced with nothing blown out or clipped. It looks a little flat though.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The cropping is good. For me I would have liked for the angle to be more to the left so we could see more of cub’s face.

For better or worse, I use photos that have won the Windland Rice Smith award as my gold standard. If a photo gets a 9 or 10 in our study group, I feel it should be able to compete with these award-winning photos. Your subject is spot on, but it seems to be missing context/impact.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Linda C

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Nice story of the mother caring for her baby but not a unique picture.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The color, cropping, sharpness are all very good. I like the angle the picture was taken at.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Very nice wildlife picture.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8


Review by Bogdan B

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Carrying cubs is very interesting and seldom seen action.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Image is good lighted. It's sharp, but not perfectly. High ISO and Dfine may cause some loss.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Crop may be a little bit tight. I miss some more space on the left side in the direction of watching.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 9


Review by Adrian B

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Bruce - Well done capturing this and I was disappointed to read your detail about the lions being over-crowded. Worrying. A good story here. you were far enough away not to be looking down too much. I like what appears to be side lighting from the left, with the lion looking that way.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Lighting is nice, without being harsh. You have used software to give the look of a shallow depth of field: this gets round you using f11, which I would doubt you would need, especially with a cropped sensor (mkii much better than my old Mki). Your combination of settings forced a higher ISO than needed. None of this though seems to have affected the end result - it just gave you more compute work to do. I like your crop and that her head is slightly right of centre, looking left.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
You can sense the tenderness of the mother and her natural alertness in looking for potential danger. It could possibly be a little brighter - may be worth trying such. But a nice image

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 9


Review by Suman B.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
absolute nature story. loved it as well as the story behind it. you have a supporter for your 70 feet perimeter cause as well as the restrictions must be imposed for 10 vehicles at a time. I just returned from the Mara and after having seen the selfie obsession us, humans are putting in is really a stressful behaviour on the wildlife there. Another cause of concern is the rapid encroachment of the Mara plains by the powerful and the mighty who have access to the highest echelons of the Kenyan government. Alas! the wild animals do not adhere to their boundaries.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
focus is tach sharp and exposure excellent. good clean image.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
except for the excess foreground I have praise for your excellent techniques.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8



Response to a critique by Bruce F.:
Hi Dan,

Two points regarding my lioness carrying her cub image. I don’t use Nik Dfine noise reduction software on the whole image. I use a mask or paint in the noise reduction. Thus, all noise reduction is on the background only, and not on the lioness and cub subject. Second, I feel that your image with the extra contrast added is not natural, and the color of the lioness’s tawny coat becomes a muddy brown color. Adding too much contrast changes the color of her coat of fur. There is a fine line between adjustments that enhance the subject and the attributes of the image and changes that cross the line and become noticeable to the viewer. Subtlety is the key. With a world that is bombarded by oversaturation and pumped-up colors and contrast and as the Pacifica photographer Steve Johnson, says, “We now live in a chromed-up world”, and the expectations that follow are warped and unrealistic, especially regarding images of the natural world. And saying that pictures captured through a camera are not reality and never have been, isn’t an answer when the color of a lioness's tawny coat isn’t quite correct.










I am a wildlife, nature, and scenic photographer. I now live in San Mateo, after spending most of my adult life in Millbrae. I previously worked full-time for Applied Biosystems and Life Technologies as a senior business analyst. I left this position a few years ago to concentrate on my true passion of nature photography. My Dad was a deer hunter and bought some property in Monterey County, so he could have a place of his own to go deer hunting. We have owned this property since 1946. I grew up spending my summers down there, following in my father's footsteps, hunting quail, dove, and black tailed deer--using a b-b gun, graduating up to a powerful hunting rifle. When I was eighteen I had to kill a black-tailed buck up close shooting him in the neck, since my first shot from afar had only wounded him. I saw death up close and personal, deciding from that moment on I didn't not want to be part of death, but to cherish life instead.

My friends and I do a lot of bird photography at my ranch in rural Monterey County, using photo blinds extensively; and recently we have built a few permanent ponds to attract wildlife.

I was a Minolta user, but switched to Canon in 2001. I used to shoot extensively with slide film; now I strictly use digital camera bodies, specifically the Canon 7D and 40D bodies, previously the Canon D1 Mark II and as backup the Canon 20D. I primarily use RAW capture, and process the images in Photoshop. I recently upgraded to CS5, and also have many external hard drives to store my raw files.


Check out Bruce's nature blog at www.brucefinocchio.wordpress.com and his website at www.dreamcatcherimages.net