Study Group 2

MJ Springett (C)

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Title:     Redstart with Attitude
Goal:   To photograph many small birds in the campground of Theodore Roosevelt National Park  

Equipment/Source:   Canon 7D with 100-400 mm lens at f8 1/250 ISO 250
Technique:    Practicing handholding tele lens on small birds that don't land for but an instant

Basic cropping and dodging

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

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


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Title:  Shovelers Territorial Dispute
Goal:   When the ducks return in the spring they are near the breeding time and territorial displays are a treasured capture.

Equipment/Source:    Canon 70D and Tamron 150-600mm Lens set for shutter speed optimum and f8 for depth of field.

Technique:    The technique is basically sit and wait in a Jeep alongside the wetlands.

Processing:   Image was cropped, dodged and burned, sharpened in Photoshop

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 caught the story that you were looking for. Primary focus actually looks to be a bit in front of the birds. The right hand Shoveler does look better with a bit more sharpening applied there. You don’t provide iso or actual shutter speed, but based on the image I don’t feel we had enough shutter speed to totally freeze the action in the left duck. You mention burning in. It is obvious in the background (top of the frame) and appears to extend even into left duck’s raised wing tip. Remember to drop saturation and contrast when darkening elements and to mask it out on any key element. For something like this, it would likely be more effective applied as a gradient and then masked out over the ducks if needed. The shoulder of the right duck is a little dull. If you burned that in as well, I would try lessening that amount. Pictorially, the slight crop on the right duck’s tail is a problem. If you have space, add that back in along with a bit more space on the left side to give that wing room to move in. If you can add the space on the sides, crop up from the bottom slightly leaving the top alone. I feel this will improve the visual tension in the frame while leaving room for the combatants.

N-3, T-2, P-2 = 7 (T-2 Lack of true sharpness on either subject, particularly the right -hand subject. P-2 Recrop to improve composition. Burning in is noticeable resulting in unnatural appearance.)

Review by Larry T.
The interaction and body language between the two ducks clearly shows the battle for breeding right between these two and thus develops the necessary nature story. Well done.

You do not state your ISO setting nor do you indicate your actual shutter speed. In my opinion, both ducks lack adequate sharpness so you either missed your focus, (easy to do when these two ducks are moving at high speed) or your shutter speed is two slow. If I had to choose, I believe that the shutter is too slow as the bubble in the foreground appears to e sharp.

The composition of this image sets an adequate stage. The placement of the ducks in the frame creates a strong diagonal line from the upper wing to the duck bodies, that draws the eye of the viewer. I also like the lower angle of view.

I feel it this image was sharp it would be exceptional.
N-3, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-7

Review by Janice R.
Nice catch and interesting, dynamic image. I like how you got the water droplets spraying which implies motion and the open mouth of the bird on the right. It appears that your DOF was adequate for isolating the subjects. On my monitor, the wings of the left bird are fairly sharp but his head is not. It looks at if your focus point was on the wing and not the eye as both birds heads are less sharp than the wing. Also, in cropping the wing of the left bird is cut off so I would adjust that crop.

N=3, T=2, P=3 Total= 7

Review by Sylvia W.
Sometimes we have to be patient to get the shot of birds and yours has paid off here with a nice action shot of them facing off. I would like to have seen the right bird in its entirety and maybe a little more space around the upright wing. Nice choice of depth of field which allows the background to fade out and your shutter speed has allowed the water to freeze giving a sense of action. That ripple in the background cuts through the wing and doesn’t help me keep my focus on the action as I follow the darker line off the page. Once again when I click on the image for a larger view the image appears soft overall.
N-3, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-7

Review by Charlie Y.
great capture, nice freeze on the intense fight. (p.s. I have a similar image, except the fight was on ice. still froze).
N-2, T-2, P-3, E-0, Total-7

Review by William S.
You definitely captured a nature action between the ducks.

The overall images are sharp and the eyes are acceptably sharp. The processed colors are very good and you were able to freeze the action. I have some concern about the close crop on the right side that removed a part of the duck. I know that this happens sometimes while shooting rather than during post cropping.

The close crop and colors help to keep focus on the action.
N-3, T-2, P-3, E-0, Total-8

Review by Martin P.
A lovely colourful image of these two squabbling ducks. The exposure looks very well handled with detail held in the whites. Compositionally the lifted wing on the left works for me, but I am uncomfortable with the tail cut off from the bird on the right. I also wonder if a little off the bottom of the image would help bring the birds to a more powerful position within the frame. The image for me also lacks critical sharpness overall which is a shame.
N-3, T-1, P-2, E-0, Total-6

Review by Ken W.
Very good nature story of territorial dispute, nice sharp images with good color and exposure, I thought the photo was cropped a little tight, especially on the right side. 
N-3, T-3, P-2, E-0, Total-8

Review by Prasad D.

The Shovelers shot seems too tight and centred. The Shovelers is cropped on the right. The Aperture could have been shallower. The Picture could have been perfect with a f 5.6 which could have reduced the ISO making the Image crisp and sharp reducing the grains. 
N-1, T-1, P-2, E-0 Total 4

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.