Study Group 2


Diana Rebman (C)

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FEBRUARY 2021 ROUND
Title:    Great Blue Heron with vole
 
Goal:    I watched this Great Blue Heron searching for vole. I wanted to photograph it with the vole in its bill with as clear a background as possible.
 

Equipment/Source:    Nikon D500, Nikon 500mm PF lens, f5.6, 1/1000 sec, ISO 720
  
Technique:  This was taken at a local National Wildlife Refuge that requires one to stay in their car. So this was taken from the car with the lens on a bean bag on the driver's side door with window down. It is frustrating because you are unable to get low to get a nice background. I did find a place where the field was a bit higher relative to the car so my POV was effectively lower.

Processing:    Cropping, noise reduction, minimal sharpening, standard camera raw conversion

Score this image:  YES

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

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

Review by commentator Tom S.
A few days ago, I watched a YouTube Video of a blue heron hunting voles, which was new for me since I didn’t know they did that. I thought they just went after fish. Grass on the vole shows he was pulled out of a hole in the ground. A very interesting shot and a strong nature story. N3

Very sharp and well exposed. Good contrast so the bird really stands out from the background. Well done. T3

It is pretty amazing that you were able to move so as it have a good background as well as the bird with the vole. The composition is well done. Cropping is good with room in front of the bird. While I like the positioning of the bird as you have it, you might find it is even better if you flip it horizontally so the bird faces to the left. That way, when we enter the image from the left, the first thing we see is the bird’s beak with the vole. P3

An exceptional nature image that deserves an extra point. E1
N3, T3, P3, E1 = 10


This Review is written by: Dennis H

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Your patience, time and effort has resulted in a good nature study of Heron with Vole.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Nice colour and feather detail on birds body, head and bill. Neck a little soft. Vole has good detail.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The blurred background provides good impact to the image. I think by rotating the image it could be improved.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 7


This Review is written by: Natalie M

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
A bird with prey is always a good story. Nicely captured.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The eye is nice and sharp and colours look accurate for the environment.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The blurred background adds impact to the subject. 

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 8


This Review is written by: Dave F.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
I can imagine the frustration of not being able to get out of your car, regardless this is a nice nature capture and a real bummer for the vole

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
great exposure and your background is nice and soft. I like the placement of the heron in relation to the over all image. Very nice

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
there might be someone who may say that you either need to crop a bit more or less - subjective and I like what you have done
< br>NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 3-Excellent composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 9


This Review is written by: Bruce F

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Strong nature story with the vole in the heron’s mouth. I wonder if you got a clearer picture of the vole, in a sequence of many frames per second. Perhaps with the heron lifting its beak and throwing up the vole in preparation for swallowing. This image is very static and lacks the action of the feeding process. It’s a strong nature story but could have been even stronger with capturing the decisive moment.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I am wondering what Noise R eduction software you are using. If it’s Topaz AI Noise Reduction, you need to mask the subject and only apply the noise reduction on the background, and never on the subject. View the original raw capture closely and compare the neck area. I called it the Topaz Noise airbrush effect. Topaz Noise Reduction softens the edge contrast, i.e. reducing sharpness. There isn’t the detail you would expect in the neck feathers, in particular. This is why, Topaz, has added a masking feature recently. Although, painting in the mask isn’t the best technique. It’s not as good as luminosity masking.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I would consider flipping the frame so the mind through the eye comes in from the left and goes directly to the beak and the egret’s face. With this framing, your mind has a slight tendency to flow out the right side of the frame. In the western world, we read left to right.
Beautiful background and wonderful diffused light. Excellent choice of aperture, so the background is blurred out, while still maintaining sharpness on the subject. If the image was mine, I would darken the light strip of brown on the top of the frame to a similar brown color directly below it. Another slight distraction for the mind within the image. Light areas on the edge of frames are places that attract the mind away from the subject.


NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

EXTRA POINT 0-No extra point

TOTAL SCORE 7


This Review is written by: Susan N.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Great story of bird with prey

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Bird needs an increase in exposure and texture. Could be done with processing

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Would be good if bird were better exposed.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE: 7


This Review is written by: Rich F

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
this is a very good image of a blue heron with its prize meal. Not sure if this rises to strong nature story but it is interesting. Too bad I can not award 2 1/2 points.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Very well done. The exposure and processing are very well done (though the dark areas at a tad dark IMO), the image is exceptionally sharp, and you did a very good job getting out of focus background.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Again very well done. If this were my pict ure I would flip it left/right to see if that was a strong image. Might be because as most westerners read left to right, the first thing we see would be the eye.

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

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 3-Excellent composition and impact

EXTRA POINT 0-No extra point

TOTAL SCORE 8


This Review is written by: Haru N.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
You captured it with the right timing!
Well done! I also admire your patience to capture this.
It is too bad that I can not recognize it as vole but still this is worth rating for 3 to capture nature story.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The sharpness on main subject is adequate and degree of blurriness of background is good. Lighting is good enough to capture the texture and detail of main subject. So technically I do not have any further comment.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Composition wise, I like the space on right side. It is pictorial beautiful image. But I must admit that it lack of strong impact of the image. Maybe it is because the vole is too small to recognize, and it does not give a feel of motion in the wild life.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 8



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JANUARY 2021 ROUND

Title:    Japanese Cranes mating dance in blizzard 

Goal:   To capture the beauty and grace of the Japanese Cranes as they dance in a blizzard. The cranes were a bit distant so I knew the snow would hamper crisp feather detail but would greatly enhance the mood of the scene.
 

Equipment/Source:   Nikon D500, Nikon 300mm 2.8 lens with 1.7 teleconverter   
   
Technique:   f8, 1/2500 sec, ISO 800, EC +2.3, tripod.   

Processing:   Standard Camera Raw adjustments with minor cropping.

Score this image:   YES


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

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

 

Nature Story (N):  What a wonderful nature story.  The story is about romance and foreplay as it occurs naturally in the wild.   Bravo for being out in such horrid conditions and having the vision to see this wonderful shot and having the skills and experience to confidently take such a difficult photograph.  You truly have brought the nature story to life.  Score: 3

Technical Quality (T):  Only a very highly skilled photographer would have the experience, the equipment, and wisdom to get the camera settings so near perfect to take this remarkable photograph.    Score:  3  

Pictorial Quality (P):  Pictorial quality?  Let’s change those two words to fine art quality.  This photograph stayed within the PSA rules for nature and turned this photograph into a work of art.  The author showed what truly can be done.  Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo!   Score:  3

Exceptional (E): This photograph is so exceptional that instead of giving it the allowable score of one I would have given it 100 if possible.  Score: 1

Scores: N 3 / T 3 / P 3/ E 1/   Score = 10


This Review is written by: Rick D.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Hi Diana, this is a truly beautiful photograph. You have captured the amazing grace of these unique birds. I agree that the mood has created great impact. To get this shot of dancing cranes in a heavy snow, while others may disagree, I feel rates a solid 3. It tells a magical tale. Good job!

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Your experience is evident in your settings. Your technique was up to the job. You beautifully exposed the texture of the white features against the fairly heavy snowfal l. Your timing was spot on.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
This would upscale any room fortunate enough to have it grace a wall. Of all the edits we photographers do, it seems to me that cropping is the most subjective. I see a varied approach in each month’s study group submissions. While some of these may be due to inexperience, other times I believe it is totally due to the personal taste of experienced photographers. Whereas you chose a fairly large amount of environment, I would have chosen a decidedly tighter crop, thereby bringing the subjects closer to the viewer’s eye. However, in this instance, my thoughts on this do not affect the score.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 3-Excellent composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 9


This Review is written by: Janice R

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
I just love the beautiful crane dances. Their position is so elegant. I have watched many crane dances and I'm impressed you captured the intertwined heads.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I think your exposure is good and that you did a good job with exposing for the white feathers against the white snow. It does appear to me that their heads are a little soft which may be from the falling snow. I still would have liked to see more detail in their heads.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAG E
The position of the cranes has the potential to be a striking image, but in this case I think they are too small in the frame. I wondering how this would be different if it was cropped?

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 7


This Review is written by: Wayne S.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Great story here. Love the birds dancing in the snow. It makes the viewer smile with joy.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Image is sharp and utilizes depth of field to give the impact of the main subject. I wonder if there could have been a stronger impact by having the camera lower to the ground. The background would have been mostly dark which would have contrasted more with the white birds giving a higher impact.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Good co mposition. I wonder if the picture was horizontally flipped it may be better for impact since we tend to look from left to right in a picture.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL: 8


This Review is written by: Larry T

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
I feel you have captured a solid and interesting nature story line combined to keep the subject in acceptable focus with the intertwined necks.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE

Using your d500 (a crop sensor camera) plus the 1.7 teleconverter has yielded you an effective focal length of just over 700mm and still I feel the action is a bit too far away. The shutter speed and aperture to allow for the capture. Using the tripod and the extremely high shutter speed were excellent choices.


PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Pictorially I do not mind the slight softness of the birds as it adds a bit of emotion to the scene. It is almost as if watching a ballet. However I would wish that you had either positioned yourself lower to pin the birds against the background trees and thus making them stand out more clearly or positioned yourself higher and placed the birds against an all white snowy background and thereby turning this image into a Japanese style high key, fine art image. For me the split background just does not do justice to the image.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 7


This Review is written by: Louis P

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
magnificent image, congratulations;

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
very good image technically, although I wonder why you did not lower the exposure so that the feathers were not so blown out.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
absolutely moving image; what a great shot.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 3-Excellent composition and impact
TOTAL SCORE 8


This Review is written by: Jodi S.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Elegant dance captured. The snow adds to the ambiance.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Blurred subject. Difficult to see eyes, or feather detail. Background very balanced providing a good contrast.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Excellent composition in difficult lighting.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 1-Inadequate exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 3-Excellent composit ion and impact

EXTRA POINT 0-No extra point

TOTAL SCORE 7

I am an avid amateur wildlife photographer. Having recently retired from my practice as an anesthesiologist and relocated to Portland from CA, I am looking to connect with other nature photographers.  For about 10 years I participated in camera clubs in the SF Bay area. I am indebted to these clubs for all of my initial learning about photography. Since then I’ve participated in numerous workshops and classes to hone my skills.  

My goal is to push my photography to the highest level possible so I greatly appreciate any constructive feedback. For more about me or to see more of my photography and awards, please check out my website www.dianarebmanphotography.com or follow me on instagram www.instagram.com/drebmanphotography