Study Group 2


MJ Springett (D)

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MAY 2020 ROUND

Title:   Nest Building 
 
Goal:     Red-Necked Grebes are rather rare in northern Wisconsin, but this pair of birds have nested three years running. No baby grebes have hatched in that time or have been pedatorized. I have been watching this pair building their third nest this spring, maybe it will produce some adult birds this year. 

Equipment/Source:    Canon 70D with Tamron 150-600 mm lens
 
Technique:    f/10 at 1/640" and ISO 400 

Processing:   
Cropped and stabilized with Topaz sharpen A1 

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

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

Review by commentator Dan C.

There are a lot of strong nature stories in the group this round.  This one is no exception.  It shows the normal aquatic plant nest building material of the grebe so the image is a strong indication of behavior.  The water on the grebe’s head and back further add to the story by showing that it just returned from a dive to pluck the lily pad stem from the bottom of the pond.  Definitely a 3 for nature.

Technically your exposure excellent, as is the sharpness. You were able to hold the whites in the head and still show detail in the blacks.  Another 3.

Pictorially I like your cropping to a panel.  It focuses the viewer on the story.  You may want to consider flipping horizontal so you are confronted by the grebe.  That is my preference but a lot depends on what is important to your story, the grebe with the lily pad or the lily pad.  Flipped horizontal I feel more emphasis is placed on the grebe.  Since that is a personal opinion, the pictorial score is still a 3 but does stop me from awarding the 1 for exceptional. Either way it is an excellent image.

N3, T3, P3, E0, Total 9



Review by Robert D

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
I really like this photo. good capture of nest building activity.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The crop is quite severe and makes the picture quite unwieldy. The second bird is not clearly identifiable as such. This is distracting. I would recommend cropping out the second bird even though you may think it is important to the story. Then the composition will be more attractive focussing the viewer's attention on one well exposed subject.

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

< strong>P ICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Nice

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Rick D.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Hi MJ. I am fairly new to this group and believe this is my first review of your work. This is a very nice shot. According to the scoring protocol, I suppose nest building would be classified as common behavior. If I could, I would score it at least a 2.9.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
All your tech points hit the mark. Very sharp and well defined, down to the water drops on the grebe’s back. The feathers and the rough water are nicely captured.

SCORE T (Techni cal Qual ity) 3-Excellent exposure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The cool water and reed compliment the grebe’s warm, earthy tones. There is a very well defined catch light in the eye. The reed itself is a strong line to the head for the viewer’s eye. I really appreciate the fine cropping job you have done, by giving the bird “room to move” in the direction its head is pointed. Proper cropping should be very easy, but it seems to me that many photographers fail to grasp it. One very small issue is that on the right side border, there is a small amount of what appears to be vegetation. I would like to see that cloned out thus keeping the border area clean and uncluttered. However, that is not issue enough to affect your score. Well done, sir!

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8

IF APPLICABLE , WHY DE SERVING OF EXTRA POINT FOR EXCELLENCE
This photo tells a story and easily be on someone's wall.

SCORE E (Exceptional) 1

GRAND TOTAL WITH EXTRA POINT 9


Review by Adrian B

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
You have caught the front bird very well. My difficulty is that I am not knowledgeable about these birds, so I don't understand what the rear one is doing or how it forms part of the story. The front one seems almost to be putting whatever the rear item is (I assume a bird!)
The point is, that the rear bird's position does not help in understanding the story - to me anyway.

SCORE N (Nature) common behavior

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Technically you have captured a solid image and it is well presented - I don't find the fact that there is not much space to the right for the lead bird to move into being an issue.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
My enjoyment of the image is marred too much by lack of understanding what the image is supposed to be telling me to award more than a 2.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Prasad D

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Seems to be a Portrait of a Red-Necked Grebe.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
More contrast would improve the image.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
More space towards the right could have been better.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Bogdan B

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Gathering nest material is a good story especially such big plants.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Photo is extremly sharp as eye as water drops. DOF is proper and good lightened.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Format of the photo fine adjusted to the subject.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 9

IF APPLICA BLE, WHY DESERVING OF EXTRA POINT FOR EXCELLENCE
Perfect image.

SCORE E (Exceptional) 1

GRAND TOTAL WITH EXTRA POINT 10


Review by Saswati C

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
This picture offers a symmetrical balance, and is a very eye pleasing nature shot.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The picture is technically sound, camera settings are ok.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The twig in the beak of the Red Necked Gebres creates a nice visual curve, balancing the small waves of the water. Also there’s a nice catch eye . The co lor balance is also we executed.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8


Review by Suman B.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
nest building story perfectly captured. with the background information supplied its definitely a 3.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
perfect settings applied. with the subtle low light playing in action you did it absolutely right.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I love the floating motion and the capturing of the nesting material on the beak of the grebe. couldn't have been better.

SCORE P (Pictor ial Qual ity) 3-Excellent composition and impact

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 9

IF APPLICABLE, WHY DESERVING OF EXTRA POINT FOR EXCELLENCE
the light played a key part with the perfect pov displayed

SCORE E (Exceptional) 1

GRAND TOTAL WITH EXTRA POINT 10


Review by Nirmalya B.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Beautiful and strong nature story. (What I am most impressed with your narration is your consistent follow up with the species for last three years).

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
From technical perspective I found no flaw in this photograph.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Pictorially I must say I am negatively biased with the restricted use of canvas and massive cropping. Over all this photograph appears to me well balanced within it’s given format

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE: 8






















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APRIL 2020 ROUND
Title:   Grouse Jump  

Goal:    In a blind at Namekagon Barrens in NW Wisconsin, male Sharptail grouse are dancing and showing off for the females. Sometimes they jump straight up after a confrontation with another male, it is a challenge to capture this behavior
  

Equipment/Source:   Canon 70D with Tamron 150-600mm lens set at 400mm
1/640" at f/9 and ISO 800

Technique:   Resting a huge telephoto lens on a monopod requires steadiness and a minimum of coffee

Processing:    I used Topaz Sharpen A1 as a plug-in on photoshop to stabilize, focus and sharpen this image.

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 captured enough of the action / behavior here to warrant the 3 rating for the nature story. That said, I would not be surprised to hear that viewers felt you had captured some aspect of landing behavior even though the legs are not extended. Part of the interpretation comes from looking at the plumage, neck sacs and up turned tail.

Technical quality is very solid. The exposure is dead on and the degree of sharpening looks effective. The technical quality rating is a 3.

While I understand having the space at the bottom because of the jump, the square crop leaves me wondering if more of the wings was actually available. I’m working on the assumption that the tips might have been compromised and so the more defined crop has been applied to make sure that it appears intentional to the viewer. The image has solid impact and a curiosity factor that will add interest. The straight on angle to the head is the one real weakness as we lose a key element in not seeing the face well and in the tonal merge of the beak into the neck feathers. The pictorial quality is rated as a 2.

N-3, T-3, P-2 – 8


Review by Pamela L.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Excellent composition with the background that completed the nature story.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Excellent technique to bring in the details of the wings, but also kept the blurry background

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Excellent composition with the background that completed the nature story.
The only complaints was the background color has been too close the grouse, perhaps to darken it a little bit in the camera raw.


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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 9


Review by Natalie M

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
I think this a great action portrait....if there is such a thing.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Sharp, beautifully exposed, and lovely colour.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The close crop adds impact and works for me.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8


Review by Dennis H

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Good capture of dancing male grouse.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Nice colour and feather detail on head, body and feet. Shadow area on righthand side around eye and wing could be lightened to improve image.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The bird has good impact but I feel could be improved by cropping foreground.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Andy H

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Good story in the action shot. It could have been improved showing why its jumping and including some other birds.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Technically very good, settings are good although I would have increased the shutter speed but you've still managed a sharp well exposed image with a good DOF.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Pictorially fine. I don't mind the wings being clipped as the main focus is in the face. Some of the bottom could be cropped. Image has impact.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8


Review by Susan N.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Wonderful capture and great story. Your description helped as well, because i had at first assumed the grouse was just flying in for a landing.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Well exposed and sharp. Wings are soft, suggesting movement.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Hard to understand what is happening with cropped-in image. Perhaps panning back the framing a bit would give a better idea. I at first wanted to crop out the bottom, sharp ground for pictorial quality and concentrated framing on the bird, but then realized you were leaving the ground in so it was apparent that it had just jumped off of that. As stated above, the story might have been better captured with lower mm zoom.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Rich F

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
this image shows interesting mating behaviour. In isolation it is hard to know what his happening but the story helps.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
the image is reasonably sharp and well exposed. I can not tell for sure but it looks like the sharpest area is the birds feet or breast just above the feet. the head and in particular the beak appear to be slight soft. Not sure if this is motion (the shutter speed was only 1/640, a bit slow in my opinion for a jumping bird) or could have been the focus was set on the bird's breast.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
This is a strong image of the grouse. The wings are cut off boldly. I would have preferred to see the entire wings and have some of the ground (foreground) cut off (more of a panamic image)/

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7

IF APPLICABLE, WHY DESERVING OF EXTRA POINT FOR EXCELLENCE
story image capturing the motion.

SCORE E (Exceptional) 1

GRAND TOTAL WITH EXTRA POINT 8


Review by Tom K

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
I feel this is average in it's nature content. The bird may be jumping up and down, but it just seems to be flying.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The eyes are a bit difficult to see and the wings are a bit blurry.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I find the square crop not very appealing as it leaves a large black foreground. Perhaps a pano type of crop would be more pleasing. The crop of the wings I don't particulary find attractive.

SCORE P (Pictorial Quality) 1-Inadequate composition and impact

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 5


Review by Bruce F

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Excellent nature story in catching the grouse jumping up in the air. Cutting off the wings in the amount you did was intentional, but I don’t think it was the right choice. Since you had a zoom lens, I would have preferred to see the entire wings, after all, they propel the grouse into the air, and make the jump possible. If its head were in a better position rather than looking down maybe going in tight would make more sense, especially if you had a better view of the eye. A good moment, but missing the light of life in the eyes, for a decisive moment.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Sharp image with good exposure and a beautifully warm early morning light. You can really see the details on its feet and claws. Background noise is well handled.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
As presented, I think the 6 x 7 format works. My preferred composition is to include the wings and has a 16 x 9 format, which would give more emphasis to the bird and it’s jumping than to the ground as does your composition.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8


Review by Malena K

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Capturing him in mid flight is awesome.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Image is sharp and color balance good

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Composition is good however wish wings weren’t clipped. Is image cropped? If so maybe change crop slightly to give grouse more room.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8

Photography has always been my go-to activity when I have had spare time. My work as a cell biologist meant that data was recorded on film, developed and printed in a darkroom, and delivered to a principal research scientist. With the advent of digital photography the darkroom work was replaced by Photoshop but little else changed. Upon retirement, I now have time to pursue wildlife, landscape, and especially birds as my photographic subjects. We moved 100 miles north to be near a wildlife refuge that represents the glacial lakes and pine barrens of Wisconsin. We also enjoy the badlands of North Dakota and Theodore Roosevelt National Park.