Study Group 2

Robert Davis, QPSA (A)

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Title:    Crested Gecko

Goal:   To study and record images of small reptiles at a workshop. Crested geckos are among the largest gecko species and typically range from 6–10 inches (15–25 cm) in length, including 4–6 inches (10–15 cm) of tail length.[3] Among the most distinctive features of these geckos are the hair-like projections found above the eyes, which greatly resemble eyelashes. Crested geckos also have two rows of spines that run from the sides of their wedge-shaped head to the base of their tail. Crested geckos do not have eyelids and so they use their long tongues to moisten their eyes and remove debris. They are native to New Caledonia.

Equipment/Source:  Canon 5DS, 50 mm 2.5 macro. ISO 400.f32. Ring flash. Handheld. 1/200

Technique:   The gecko was placed on bamboo clustered then taken from about 8 inches with a Canon ring flash. Despite the common view that f32 produces diffraction, you cannot see that here. 

 Photoshop CS. Slight brighten and increase contrast

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

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

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Title:   Crested caracara display
Goal:   I went to a ranch in South Texas planning to capture images of the abundant birds in this area. We were set up close to a small pond in a clearing in the middle of the forrest. While sitting quietly, suddenly a group of these amazing raptors arrived. This particular bird was displaying by throwing his head backward. This is a recognized behavior but rarely recorded.

Equipment/Source:    Canon 5DS. 500mm f4, 1/800 sec. f 7.1 ISO 640. Tripod. Wimberly head

Technique:   This was a difficult shot, the birds were moving very quickly and did not sit still for long. One had to predict the critical moment and this is 1 out of about 30 shots that I took. Using the free movement of the gimbal helped a lot. 

Processing:   Photoshop, tweaking white balance and exposure. This was cropped about 50%. Thank goodness for the large file size of the 5DS!

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

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

Review by commentator Dan C.

That posture really provides a good nature story about the behavior of this raptor.  It is so different from what we normally see that it makes the viewer perk up and take notice.

I do feel you have a color balance problem and a slight exposure problem.  For color balance, it appears to have a slight magenta cast.  This shows up in the browns of the feathers and the greens of the background.  A simple auto color takes care of that.  The exposure issue may be due to the differences between the brightness of my monitor and your monitor so remember to check your brightness with a greyscale target.

While it does not have any real affect on a monitor, you may want to consider converting the image to the sRGB color space if it is going to be used with digital projection.  Digital projectors are optimized for that color space and when it projects an image that is in the wider space of Adobe RGB it tends to flatten the colors when it sees tones it cannot display.

N3, T2, P3, E0, Total 8

Review by Suman B.
Crested caracara head display although not unusual yet can be predicted. It’s a good thing you anticipated the behaviour and captured the right moment. My compliments on that. A little shift towards your left could have given you an exclusive shot as I can foresee from the picture. Only problem I am finding is the reddishness of the entire picture which I donno if others are finding too? What was the metering type you used if I may enquire? My educated guess is Center-weighted. Together with the tweak of the white balance it caused the overall red tint I presume. Also blocking of the shadows does make it a below average processing. 
N-2, T-2, P-2, E-0, total-6

Review by Bogdan B.
Fine to capture unusual behaviour. The image is relative sharp with background blurred. The upper part of neck seems overexposed to me. I would darken a little bit the whole image.
N-3, T-2, P-3, E-0, total-8

Review by Natalie M.
This is a spectacular bird and capturing this behaviour must have been the icing on the cake. There is not much to improve here, except the background, which is always difficult to control, has caused the bird to blends into it's surrounds. Great find.
N-3, T-3, P-2, E-0, Total-8

Review by Dennis H.
Good capture of bird displaying natural behaviour. I feel the image could be improved by dodging and burning on bird's head, legs and underbelly to bring out more detail. Background a little distracting.
N-3, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-7

Review by Andy H.
Interesting behaviour similar to the Fish Eagles in Africa. Do they call when they make this head movement? The settings look fine although I would have lifted the shutter speed and sacrificed the ISO given the head movement. The 5D image size is useful when you have to crop but can have issues as the slightest movement can create a less sharp image. Good DOF giving a blur to the background and making the bird stand out. I suspect this image was taken in bright light as it looks like you have tried to tone down some background highlights and they look unnatural. The birds legs have a highlight and have lost detail.The bird could be sharper and there are signs of the detail being pushed too far. The stump has a magenta cast.
N-3, T-1, P-2, E-0, Total-6

Review by Georges D.
The bird has a very unusual posture which make this photo rather unique. However, the background is rather distracting. This situation decreases to some extent the value of the photo.
N-3, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-7

Review by Larry T.
The displaying behavior of the bird clearly develops a strong story line as required by the Nature category.

The camera techniques seem to be appropriate and well chosen. You have enough DOF to keep the entire bird sharp and a fast enough shutter to freeze motion. Your camera handled the moderately high ISO well and the image has adequate detail throughout. I feel the wing feathers could be sharper as they have lost that crisp look. There also seems to be a hot spot on the bird’s leg where it appears white.

I feel that you could have lightened the shadows on the underside of the bird in post work and thus removed the heavy black areas. I also feel that the extremely bright background competes with the bird for the attention of the viewer and that perhaps the image is a bit over saturated. Perhaps backing off the saturation a bit and dodging the background brightness would help the over all image. I think the strong centering of the image in the tight composition works well.
N-3, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-7

Bob Davis was born in Johannesburg South Africa and educated there and in London, Edinburgh and New York. He has retired from being a surgeon in Houston Texas for many years. After the busy years of hard work, he joined the Houston Photographic Society and is now its President. He is fascinated by all forms of photography especially nature. He mainly utilizes Canon equipment and is trying hard to keep up with recent software advances.