Study Group 2


Janice Rosner (B)

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AUGUST 2019 ROUND

Title:  Swan escapes puma
   
Goal:   I was standing on the bank of a small lake where I could see a puma in the grass watching a swan in the lake. I knew the puma was going to go after the swan. I watched as the puma left her hiding place and splashed, not very subtly into the water. The puma swam towards the swan who appeared to be unaware of the puma's presence. I was holding my breathe when the puma, in deeper water, lunged for the swan. The puma was unable to grasp the swan and I have a following image of the swan literally "running on water". The young puma swam to the other side of the lake, slowly got out and shook herself off.    

Equipment/Source:   Sony a6500, 100-400 lens at 400mm, tripod with gimbal head  
 
Technique:   I had my camera on "Hi continuous" shooting. For several minutes I just sat waiting for the puma to make a move. Once she did, I had to follow her in the lens and photographed her actions.

Processing:    
ACR, adjust grey pt, exposure, PS crop

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

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





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JULY 2019 ROUND
Title:   Puma with guanaco kill
 
   
Goal:   To capture images of pumas in the wild
  

Equipment/Source:  Sony a7riii, Sony 100-400 with 1.4 extender (560mm), tripod,

Technique:  f9, 1/640, ISO 3200,
We knew that the pumas had a guanaco kill on the shoulder of a road. As we approached the area, we could see a puma coming down the side of the hill across the street from the kill. We quietly got out of the car and set up on the shoulder of the road opposite the kill. There was a buzzard eagle on the kill. The puma saw the eagle, ran across the road about 50 yards from us and went after it. The eagle flew but attempted to come back to the kill a couple times and each time the puma went after it. When the eagle was gone, the puma sat on the hill above the kill and watched it for awhile. After a few minutes, the puma came down the hill and began to eat on the guanaco.

The light was very poor as it was dusk. I needed to use a high ISO, and keep my shutter speed up and enough DoF to keep a quickly moving animal in focus. I monitored my histogram as the sun was setting and I was loosing light.  

Processing:  ACR- increased exposure 3 stops, adjusted white balance, increased whites, added some clarity and dehaze and decreased noise. In PS I adjusted the grey point and brightened the eyes.  

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

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

Review by commentator Dan C.

This is nicely done and does have an extremely strong story.  Your patience paid off.  The puma on the kill is usually considered strong by itself but other elements expand and enhance the story.  The pose shows it knows you are there but the blood around its mouth shows it is tolerating you and continuing to eat anyway instead of taking off as usual.  Looking at its stomach is a possible clue.  I get a strong feeling it is a pregnant female making eating more important than running.  That may not be the true story, but it works.

Pictorially it is well composed and cropped to concentrate on the story.

Technically your exposure seems a bit drab in spite of your processing.  I recommend a little use of structure and contrast to make it really pop.

N3, T2, P3, E1, Total 9


Review by Larry T.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
This very threatening puma capture certainly qualifies for a strong nature storyline. The stare of the cat toward the viewer puts the viewer into the scene and adds power to the overall image. Including nearly the entire animal also shows the power of the animal.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-positive nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
While I feel you might have been able to get a bit lower and shoot eye level, the angle still creates a feeling of power. Setting up a tripod to stabilize the camera also contributes to the quality of the image. The exceptionally high ISO contributes to a slight soft feeling of the animal but the eye remains tack sharp and so the rest can be excused. Taken at dusk the image shows that low light feeling when these beast are out feeding and hunting.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Since the back half of the cat is noticeably soft I feel a crop from the right side that would eliminate the hind leg and bring more attention to the eyes would enhance the image. While I like the presented image and see it as a strong nature image I feel in a greater completion the general muddy, soft and dull appearance would lower the score.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8

IF APPLICABLE, WHY DESERVING OF EXTRA POINT FOR EXCELLENCE
Since this is a nature study group and this is a rare and powerfully shown incident I’m awarding an extra point for the storyline and nature feel of the image. As aside note I applaud your efforts in constant checking of exposure and making adjustments as you indicate in the fading light. Well done!

SCORE E (Exceptional) 1

GRAND TOTAL WITH EXTRA POINT 9


Review by Adrian B.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Well done Janice! A great capture and I particularly like the look of the puma, sort of says, this is mine!
Plenty of story!

SCORE N (Nature) 3-positive nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I love the head of the puma being on the left 1/3, looking at you! Focus must have been on its head, perfect. Looks sharp where it matters. Your camera has handled the 3,200 ISO well.

If anything, I would brighten it up a fraction more.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
In my view, the strongest image in B this month! Pictorially, this is obviously helped by the blood on its mouth and chin - plus my comments above.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 9


Review by Robert D.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Fantastic nature shot. The eyes are transfixing

SCORE N (Nature) 3-positive nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The image is very flat overall. It needs increased contrast and then selective brightening of the puma and the prey. Saturation should be increased a tad

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Good impact, Should really catch one's eye with corrections

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Bruce F.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
I feel this is a powerful nature image with a great story. The look of those eyes, lead one into the soul of this puma. The blood on the chin and the ribs of the Guanaco carcass all contribute to a wonderful and powerful impact.
For me, it’s hard to say one image has a better nature story than another. An image of lichen is static and doesn’t produce the drama of an image like this or a polar bear feeding on a seal. Thus, I judge nature stories on how well isn’t captured. Here you were in the right place at the right moment, congratulations! Puma or Mountain Lions are my spirit animal. I have seen eight in the wild, so I am a bit envious of your opportunity. You made it the most of it here.


SCORE N (Nature) 3-positive nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The selective focus technique here really helps draw attention to the face of this puma. I like and think that f9 aperture was a good choice. Because of the low diffused light, you were able to use ISO 3200 without significant noise--noise that was able to be reduced to a low level in your post-processing.
Exposure is a tad dark, but that fits the time of the shot. However, I might try brightening the whole image a 1/3 of stop and compare them. I ran the image through ACR and added +30 exposure, and a little more contrast, and I think this adds a little more impact without changing the mood or time of day.


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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I think that your choice of 3 to 4 format is excellent for what you have shown us. I don’t mind that you don’t see the whole cat. I think if you zoom out and included the whole animal that you would have lost a lot of that incredible look of the cat’s face and eyes. Some would disagree! However, I think that the right amount of the cat’s back legs and rear-end are removed so that the viewer can tell that this was done on purpose.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8

IF APPLICABLE, WHY DESERVING OF EXTRA POINT FOR EXCELLENCE
Other than the exposure decision, I feel this is an excellent nature image. You should feel proud of this one, and humble that the cat let you take its image.

SCORE E (Exceptional) 1

GRAND TOTAL WITH EXTRA POINT 9


Review by Bogdan B.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Puma at meal is a good natural story.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Result of low light and high ISO is a little bit soft image and pale colors.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I miss rear legs and tail.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Linda C.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Great capture.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Fairly sharp; lighting flat. Would use Adobe LR or other program to lighten and clarify.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Great nature shot.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8

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.