Study Group 2

Richard Fisher· (B)

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Title:    Snowy Owl Hunting
Goal:  I was in outside Ottawa in January. I wanted to capture a snowy owl hunting a mouse. 

Equipment/Source:   Nikon D850 with battery grip, 180-400 at 550mm (400mm w/ 1.4 dropped in), F8, 1/5000, ISO 640. Spot metered the snow, used this to set the exposure in Manual mode  

Technique:  I tracked the bird as it came for the mouse. I hand handled the rig (in sub freezing temperatures), shot several shots as the bird flew in. Once the bird was close I held the shutter button done while using the back button to engage the AF and track the bird.   

Processing:   Besides adjustments in LR raw processing, I applied global adjustments using luminosity masks and brightened the eye a bit.  

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

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



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Title:    Dancing Wolves 
Goal:   I was looking for a wolving interaction or a wolf snarling. I had arranged to attend a photo shoot at Minnesota Wildlife Connection where a small pack of wolves would be released to feed on a roadkilled deer.   

Equipment/Source:  Nikon D850, 80-400 (at 100mm), 1/1000, F8, ISO 1250 (I think), hand held
Technique:  I followed this pair of wolves around. She was close to estrus and was very interested. However she was not ready, and rejected him, sitting at times. The fight was her attempt to dissuade him.  

Minimal processing (auto in LR), which was subsequently fine tuned.

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

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

Review by commentator Rick Cloran

An excellent behavioral image. The story is there and the deer’s head and carcass only add to it. Exposure is good for the lighting you had. Focus and general sharpness both look good. An even shallower depth of field would strengthen it even more, but you have done very well in controlling what you could of the background. I do wish that the third wolf was not behind them, but as with all things in nature, you take what presents itself. It is even stronger for me if I crop up from the bottom to the point of eliminating that piece of meat or hide. Yes, it does make the base under them thin, but it eliminates the tufts of fur right on the bottom edge and that piece so there is nothing to pull my eye down once I start studying the other parts of the image.

N-3, T-3, P-3 = 9 (Crop up from the bottom and it would have received the E bonus point. There is no penalty for the third wolf as that cannot be controlled.)

Review by Larry T.
Your stated goal was to capture a male egret displaying breed plumage and I feel you accomplished exactly that. Since this is clearly a specialized behavior it fulfills the nature requirement by going beyond ordinary activity and thus I feel it merits the full three points.

Your choice of camera, lens, including extender, shutter speed, aperture and ISO all seem to have worked adequately to capture the image. The aperture rendered a beautiful bokeh which nicely isolated the bird against the background. You do not mention if the image was cropped but judging from the fine detail I feel it was not cropped much if at all. The remote shutter was a good choice given that the bird was not moving a great deal and thus facilitated framing the image.

At first glance you appear to have done a fine with the composition and processing. I would prefer if you had not gotten the lower part of the bird covered with the branch but given the busy environment in which these birds live I do not greatly object to this minor flaw. I also believe that in wildlife photography that capturing the eye is essential. While you have the eye visible, a slight adjustment to your right may have rendered a better angle of view for the eye. Again, this I feel is minor as you did somewhat capture the eye . I find your composition to be pleasing and really like that you slightly off centered the bird to the right. My major objection to the image is that you seem to have blown the whites both on the bird’s neck and most glaringly on the bird’s shoulder. I feel that the blown shoulder greatly flaws the image. Capturing whites like these is especially difficult, especially in bright light. 
N-3, T-3, P-2, E-0, Total-8

Review by Janice R.
Subjects are sharp and well exposed. Background is a little distracting and could have been blurred out more. Placement of elk between the wolves provides a context for their behavior but seems out of place in terms of their typical behavior. I thought the title of the image was confusing as they are clearly not dancing. This image has a "staged" quality and doesn't seem natural. 
N-2, T-2j, P-2, e-0, Total-6

Review by MJ Springett
This is a difficult place to shoot wolves with a clean background. Another wolf is intersected in the background as well. Does this image qualify as a nature entry? These are captive animals inside a fence.
N-1, T-1, P-1, E-0, Total-3

Review by Martin P.
Wow, an impactful shot overall.
N = I am not sure how I feel about the nature aspect of this shot. If the wolves have been let loose on the road kill is it a nature shot? They must be solely dependant on man for food and as such I thought the definition excluded this type of shot? I went back and re read the definition and see that this does meet the Nature definition but not wildlife.
The behaviour in this shot is certainly clear and well demonstrated.
T = The image feels well exposed overall with a good exposure demonstrated both on the wolves and the snow. I am feeling that the sharpness of the image extends quite significantly into the picture due to the aperture selected. I feel that a wider aperture might have reduced the depth of field which would have helped to reduce the sharpness of the background.
P = I am enjoying the interaction between the 2 wolves and the bared fangs certainly show the ferocity of the behaviour. I wasn’t sure if they were fighting over the kill shown in the bottom of the frame or for some other reason. Due to the limited colour palette of the image I do find that the creatures blend into the background somewhat. I do wonder if a little dodging/burning or contrast reduction in the background might help them stand out a little more.
N-3, T-3, P-2, E-0, Total-8

Review by Sylvia W.
You have captured this well - The whole picture tells the story well down to the pieces of fur scattered on the snow. The choice of aperture and shutter speed has worked well with the main two wolves being sharp and their action frozen so that we can see the facial expressions. My only criticism is that the third wolf decided to drop in while you were taking a photo - very uncooperative! :) 
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-0, Total-9

Review by Charlie Y
nice capture, subject image are sharp. Just wonder if something can be done to darken the background, or something to reduce the distraction and stand out he subjects, to make it more impact. or shooting time to have different F setting to have less DOF, since it was close.
N-2, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-6

Review by William S.
It seems to me that there are possibly two nature stories in this photograph, the one you tell and one about a food kill framed between the two upright wolves. The depth of field is very good at 100mm making this a sharp image.

I struggled with the composition and pictorial quality because the image clearly shows the wolves’ encounter but just as clearly shows the head of a recent food kill and another partially blocked wolf eating. I have no suggestion for resolving this issue but it does distract from your original nature story.
N-3, T-3, P-2, E-0, Total-8

Review by Ken W.
Fantastic photo, with great nature story, good focus, exposure and composition. Very nice.
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-1, Total-10

Review by Hattie S.
Great nature story. The helpless deer staring right into my eye. The only thing bothers me is the half wolf body sticking out on the left. Great photo.
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-0, Total-9

Rich could be described as a modern-day Renaissance man. Though now retired from Kraft Foods (2012), he is trained in the sciences with a PhD from UCLA in Molecular Biology and has earned an MBA from the University of Chicago where he specialized in Finance, Marketing and Statistics. In addition to his analytic side, Rich is artistic as demonstrated from his photography. 

During his tenure at Kraft Foods his career spanned such diverse areas from Physical Chemistry and computer simulation to Marketing Analytic (last brand positions were Director of Analytics for the Cheese & Dairy Business Unit and The Pizza Company). As head of Analytics Rich was responsible for forecasting volumetric and financial impact of changes in marketing spending and price changes. 

Rich has been a member of the Garden Photographic Society (GPS) since 1997 and the Riverwood Nature Photographic Society (RNPS) since 2002. In GPS he has held numerous positions such as newsletter editor, president, competition chair, DPI coordinator and Treasurer. In RNPS he has been Outing and Program Chairs, and Vice President of Competition. Rich has been on the board of CACCA, Chicago Area Camera Club Association, since 1999 and Rich has been Treasurer for most of his tenure on the board except during his term as president, 2014-16. In addition, he has been additional roles as the information manager and coordinator of speakers and judges. 

On a personal note, Rich lives outside Chicago with his wife Jane and their delightful Golden Retriever, Denali. Both Rich and Jane love to travel and are planning their 23rd trip Africa.