Study Group 2

Janice Rosner (B)

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Title:   Yellowstone cottonwoods in fog

Goal: I was out in the Lamar Valley at sunrise around the time of the Polar Vortex. This was one of the "warmer days" as there was cloud cover. Despite the clouds, the light was nice. I saw the low fog down by the Lamar River near the cottonwoods and wanted to see if I could get some interesting images of the cottonwoods in the mist. The snow was deep and I had to snowshoe out to the river.    

Equipment/Source:   Canon 5dsr, 24-70 lens at 40mm. tripod
Technique:  I snowshoed out to the river and around the cottonwoods, being careful not to leave tracks in view of where I potentially wanted to shoot from. I found this view and liked the simplicity and outline of the trees agains the foggy background. 

auto wb in camera. The following adjustments were made in ACR: increase whites, slight decrease of blacks to increase contrast of trunks against light background, decrease clarity, increase vibrance, remove chromatic aberration, enable profile correction. 

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

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

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Title:   Sparring Adolescent Elephant Seals
Goal:   Young male elephant seals stay together in groups.  According to the ranger, they often engage in behavior that will help them to learn how to compete for females when they get to breeding age.  I was fortunate to be able to watch a group of adolescent males for a couple of hours.  My goal was to photograph their sparing behavior. 

Equipment/Source:   Digital raw capture, Zoom 100-400@ 370mm, f5.6, 1/1000 

Technique:   I stood on the dock above the beach where the seals were and watched them over the railing.  

Processing:   ACR adjustments, increased exposure, clarity and vibrance, cropped in photos

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 you did a good job in capturing the action you were intent on. The interplay between the two is clear and the sense of aggression comes over effectively. Primary focus looks good to me. You can actually get a bit more crispness out of it with some additional sharpening restricted to just the seals. The muted lighting is a plus for bringing out detail in them and avoiding the harsh contrast in the background. Those reflections will remain an issue as they can’t help but tug at the viewer’s eye even at this relatively low luminosity. If you want to try for a bit more impact, I feel that your most likely option is to recrop to more of a square and then drop the contrast and brightness of the background minimally. The fact that all of the implicit action is directed to the center of the frame would let this work compositionally.

I’m presuming that safety considerations made getting down to their level impractical. A lower angle of view would have helped with the extent to which the BG could be controlled as well as giving options on how much of their bodies you could effectively include. Not as much an issue in the US, but overseas exhibitions are often looking for more habitat as part of the nature story. Watch your color space. When I brought this into Photoshop to make the adjustment it was in ProPhoto, which is not going to show well in most internet browsers.

N-3, T-3, P-2 = 8 (P-2 Background remains problematic even with lower contrast. Suggest recropping. Some additional sharpening is possible.)

Review by Martin P.
An Interesting capture of the two seals. Good closeup of the main action. I do wonder if a square crop of just the faces might have had more impact overall as they would be larger in the frame. Exposure looks good as does the sharpness, but I am noticing some strange speckles on the skin which look a little like digital noise. I wonder if your camera exposed for the bright water so the seals were darker than you wanted? A little exposure compensation might have helped.
N-3, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-7

Review by Ken W.
Nice nature story of 2 seals sparring, Nice sharp image of the seals, eye sharp, mouth sharp, the water appears bright, I am not sure if it could have been darkened a little. I like the expression of the seal on the left (looks like he is not sure what he is supposed to do).
N-3, T-3, P-2, E-0, Total-8

Review by William S.
You met your nature goal of capturing adolescent seals in action. They look very engaged in their activity.

The image looks slightly over exposed. I am uncertain whether it is the result of processing with a monitor that is too dark (usually the opposite) for editing as you stated increasing the exposure. You captured a sharp eye and show detail in the skin.

I like the composition and the excitement you captured but wished that the exposure was slightly darker.
N-3, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-7

Review by MJ Springett
N= Story definitely has action frozen in time. No doubt that they have mayhem in mind.
T=Sharp, but water could be a bit more blurred. I would crop a bit of the top and right side.
P= Color is not pictorial for me.
N-3, T-3, P-2, E-0, Total-8

Review bv Charlie Y.
cool pic, clear and sharp, good one. suggesting darken the background to stand out main focus. could be a better one here. . 
N-2, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-6

Review by Sylvia W.
Nice depth of field in this image with a clean background allowing us to focus on the subjects. Love the expressions - could be a commercial for a dentist. It’s possible with the cropping that you have lost definition and sharpness and I believe there is some slight chromatic aberration along the back of the left seal. A distraction for me is that back flipper of the seal on the right.
N-3, T-1, P-2, E-0, Total-6

Review by Larry T.
The image clearly shows two seals engaged in some confrontation. I feel that the super close up format you have chosen takes away some of the feeling of action. Personally, I want to see more of the bodies in the hope that will convey more “confrontation” due to body language.

It seems that you used an adequate shutter speed and aperture to capture the action. While you do not indicate the ISO the image appears to be nearly free of noise so I assume the ISO was fairly low. You indicate a focal length of 370mm and that reinforces my previous comment in that I want to see more of the seals body language. From this setting I feel you could have shortened the focal length to show more of the seals. You clearly were standing close enough.

I feel you have handled the exposure in an adequate manner as you have no major distractions in either the highlights or shadows. The fact that you have slightly pushed the seals to the left side of the image conveys the feeling that the seal on the right is pushing the seal on the left out of the image and thus being more dominate. You did a good job with this. In the end, this image, at least for me lacks impact and as such I can not raise the score.
N-2, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-6

Review by Prasad D.
Good information. The Elephant Adolescent Seal picture sparring with each other  has not been exposed well as the background seems to have over exposed in an attempt to expose the Seals correctly. The Image does not have any oomph or dynamic action seen.
N-2, T-2, P1, E0 Total 5

I’m primarily a Canon shooter though I have recently started using a Sony a6500 when I hike.  For post processing I use ACR and photoshop.  I also have some Topaz products I use occasionally.