Study Group 2


Bruce Finocchio

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MAY 2019 ROUND

Title:  A Perched Male Crowned Woodnymph Sticks Out Its White Tongue   
  
Goal:   During my first trip to Costa Rica, I had a chance to photograph many new species hummingbirds. Costa Rica is an interesting country and more mountainous than you would think of Central America. I went on a week-long workshop, run by a former president of NANPA that I have known for quite a while. One of the lodges we visited was Rancho Naturalista, in the Caribbean foothills/highlands in the southern part of the country. They had many feeders up along their second-story balcony attracting many species of hummingbirds. This Male Crowned Woodnymph hummingbird seems to favor this perch. I used my new Canon 100–400 mm II lens, with fill flash to capture this brilliant and colorful hummingbird. In fact, I kind of went crazy photographing all the different hummingbirds on this trip.  

Equipment / Source:    Canon 7D Mark II body, EF100--400mm f4.5-f5.6 IS Mark II lens, at ISO 1000, 1/80 of sec, at f/8 aperture, Evaluative metering, 

Technique:   Gitzo Tripod with a Wimberley gimbal type head, waiting and watching the hummingbird land and waiting for some behavior like sticking its tongue out, or even preening, to separate the capture for just a portrait. Using the flash to freeze motion or action.  
 

Processing:   I cropped the image from the top and right slightly. I used Nik Dfine 2 on the green background to remove noise, and Viveza on the hummingbird's body to brighten that area up a bit. Targeted sharpening only the hummingbird with Nik Raw Sharpener 

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

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APRIL 2019 ROUND
Title:   Leopard climbs down tree 
 
Goal:  My goal was to capture was to capture a leopard climbing down a tree. During my January 2015 trip, I captured a leopard going down a tree, but because my 600 mm lens was previously damaged and the connection to the camera didn’t lock. These images weren’t recorded. It’s a long story how my lens connection got damaged, so I won’t go into detail here. Therefore, I was really excited that the first full day in Tarangire National Park (February 2019), I got the image that I missed in 2015.  

Equipment / Source:  Canon D7II Body, 600 mm IS f4.0 lens, at 600 mm, shutter speed of 1/640 at f8, ISO 1600, Evaluative Metering, no Flash.   

Technique:  600 mm lens f4.0 lens rested on a bean bag on the top of a safari vehicle. 

Processing:   Selective Noise Reduction with Nik Define, as well as, selective sharpening also with Nik Raw Sharpening I cropped a bit off the top, so the leopard had more room on the downward side. Some saturation reduction of the bright yellow in the background, and a little brightness and contrast added to the Leopard’s face and body. 

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

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Review by commentator Tom S.

The leopard is nice and sharp and the bright background is not too bright.  The leopard could be a little brighter, but the big problem is he is partially hidden behind the tree trunk.  It looks like he is stuck between the trunk and the limb.  All wildlife images are better if the viewer can see their eyes.

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


Review by Larry T.
First, under the existing lighting conditions you did quite well in capturing this image. I know you are justifiably proud of this image as I would be if it were mine.

Before you read the following evaluation please note everything I say is colored by how I end up viewing the as discussed in the pictorial (final section) of the review.

With what I know of leopards, and I’m no expert, the animal spends a great deal of time in trees. Thus, what goes up, must come down. While this is a unique image and something that is not often seen (I’ve never seen it before) and while I find it comical, in my opinion I do not feel that it demonstrates a strong story line. It is a leopard going about his normal day.

The technical aspects of this image I fine quite well done. With the strong back light you did a wonderful job of getting a balanced exposure of the shadow areas (the tree and cat) and still managed to keep the background from becoming greatly overexposed. Even at ISO 1600 the image shows very little noise – well done.

It is the pictorial quality of the image that, for me seems to be somewhat off. I’ve thought about this image for a couple of days trying to get a handle on exactly how to fix what bothers me. In my opinion the cat just looks awkward. There are two issues: The fact that only three legs show and second, there is no tail. Thus for me the back end of the cat just looks odd. My mine tells me that this is a “nobel beast” and the fact that the cat appears chopped up (broken? ) simply bothers me. While I enjoy the overall image I feel the crop needs attention. I understand that in the nature division PSA does not allow cloning. However, that little branch in the upper right corner is annoying. It could be cropped by moving the right side of the image toward the cat until the little branch is removed—but doing so leaves the image somewhat unbalanced. I also considered cropping down from the top but you can’t crop all of the branch without crowding the rear end of the cat. This which way to go? Next I feel the massive amount of tree trunk on the left creates a visual distraction especially with the several dark holes that show in the trunk of the tree. My first thought is to crop about half of the trunk moving in from the left edge. I have seen several quite narrow images when in landscape mode but in the vertical position this somehow looks awkward.

Thus I’ve come up with the following conclusion---and I’m not sure I can do this. I would clone out the little branch at the top and crop off about a third of the tree trunk from the left. Then I would crop down from the top to the little twig that sticks out to the right. Finally, since I cloned the image I would enter it in the travel or general category where cloning is allowed.

I think this is an interesting image, but for me it just feels awkward. I really want to read the other reviews to see what I’ve done wrong.
N-2, T-3, P-2, E-0, Total-7


Review by MJ Springett
The story of why this leopard is traveling in this manner is not clear, is he scratching his back? the twig in the upper right corner is distracting and could be cropped out. I would dodge in the face and back of the cat and provide more contrast between the cat and the tree, just my opinion
N-2, T-2, P-1, E-0, Total-5


Review by Adrian B.
Bruce, I am sure you were excited to see a leopard moving and well visible. It seems to be scratching its back as it is tight to the main branch.

This actually causes some concern to me, as while you have captured well it doing something, thus your image telling a storey, it is looking straight down and is somewhat tight and not well lit.

First, I wonder if you need white as much of teh main branch to tell the storey? The trunk is very dominant in the image.

Then I would consider lightening the leopard and tree but not the grass background
N-3, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-7


Review by William S.
This is a good nature story.

It seems to me that the warmer color balance provides less contrast between the leopard and the tree than a slightly cooler balance. I noticed that you tried to add some contrast to the leopard to make it stand out. You captured a sharp image and the exposure difference between the main subject and the background works well.

The overall appearance is good but would be great if there were more separation between the animal and the tree.
N-3, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-7


Review by Charlie Y.
Given the image can't open further to see the clarify, sharpness of the subject, never mind the eyes, furs, etc. I can't comment much, only wonder if darken the left tree will help to stand out the leopard? and if push shutter speed to 1/1200, and use f/7, or 6.3 to get better result. Do you have different shooting setting for the same scene?
N-2, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-6


Review by Sylvia W.
Being in the right place at the right time helps and you’ve captured the Leopard showing off its tree climbing skills. I like that the background is nice and blurred and layered in colours. Your choice of aperture has ensured that the subject is nice and sharp. For me I would consider an even closer crop - possibly some of the tree on the left and along the top trying to get rid of that annoying little branch in the top right corner.
N-2, T-2, P-3, E-0, Total-7


Review by Sylvia W.
Being in the right place at the right time helps and you’ve captured the Leopard showing off its tree climbing skills. I like that the background is nice and blurred and layered in colours. Your choice of aperture has ensured that the subject is nice and sharp. For me I would consider an even closer crop - possibly some of the tree on the left and along the top trying to get rid of that annoying little branch in the top right corner.
N-2, T-2, P-3, E-0, Total-7


Review by Ken W.
Very interesting photo. The leopard appears to be defying gravity. Very sharp, well exposed and processed photo. 
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-0, Total-9










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