Study Group 2


Suman Bhattacharyya, MPSA, ARPS, EFIAP/b·

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FEBRUARY 2021 ROUND
Title:   caught in act
     
Goal:    Although my goal was to capture a nature story but then I hovered with the idea what would happen when I use the XQD to its full potential with the D4. Shot at burst while egret tried to disappear from the prying eyes. In return found one frame which is unique as it is caught in that act of its. May be considered as a portrait but you might consider Kirsh removed the cigar from His mouth while shooting.

Equipment/Source:     used Nikon D4 fitted with 200-500 @500 mm. 

Technique:    Shot at f 5.6 for the separation between object and background with 1/4000 to arrest the moment ISO 1000 to compensate the light 200-500 @500, while lens is fitted on Nikon D4. Shot low from the canoe's base which is used to stabilize the rig. with daylight, no flash used in the wee hours of the wintery foggy morning.

Processing:    first tried to process with the Topaz Denoise AI but since it gave troublesome results reverted to plain old noise reducing. Tinkered with a few PS sliders like shadows and highlights as well as clarity.

Score this image: YES

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

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

Review by commentator J.D.
Nature Story (N): Although most nature stories concerning animals reflects the 3 f’s of fighting, feeding, and fornicating, there is something just as special and that is when you see an animal response to some kind of stimuli that makes then end up in an awkward but remarkable photographic position. This photo is at the highest level of finding that remarkable photographic position Score: 3

Technical Quality (T): The technical quality of this photograph is near perfect if there is such a thing as perfect. Bravo on the righteous settings. Score: 3

Pictorial Quality (P): As much as I love this photograph I would have to give it a low score in an international competition if I were judging it in nature. A better idea would be to enter it in PID Color where the “any subject, any technique” applies and add some sky to the top of this wonderful photograph. Score: 2

Exceptional (E): Regretfully, although the photograph is truly wonderful, the cropping problem makes it undeserving of an extra point for being exceptional. Score: 0

Scores: N 3 / T 3 / P 2/ E 0/ Score = 8


This Review is written by: Diana R.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Although not the strongest nature story, it is pretty clear that the bird just took off from the water. Presumably startled by the photographer

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The image is sharp with good depth of field. Exposure seems stop on.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Unfortunately the head of the bird is far too close to the top of the photo. The wing position is lovely with the way it encircles the head. To me the head position would be better if looking slightly to the side. Overall, nice photo!

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

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 7


This Review is written by: Larry T

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
There is an existent nature story in the startled bird rising from the marsh in what appears to be a quite vertical launch. The addition of the visible water drops helps to sell the story as does fact that the bird is facing the camera and not looking forward, which is the usual position. I would be tempted to score this as average (20) accept for the two mentioned qualities

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Your choice of settings, especially the fast shutter speed, made this capture possible. The fact that the bird is moving left to right and that the wings are not extended helped to keep it in focus despite a shallow aperture of 5.6 Since the background is actually pretty distant you could have increased the aperture to f8 without noticeable damage to the background. Your low camera position helps to lift the bird and make it appear higher than it actually is. I feel that high shutter speed really makes the image possible.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
My only complaint regarding the image is the lack of space between the bird and the top of the frame. I really wish there was some additional space up there. I realize there is nothing you can do about this when submitting the image to a nature category, but for personal use or in an open category it would be easy to clone in the necessary space at the top.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORI AL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 8


This Review is written by: Jodi S.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Captured the water droplets formed from the takeoff. The droplets tell the viewer this was taken in marsh water. The birds position seems to indicate it was escaping some threat.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Excellent exposure, sharpness, and angle for this shot. I like the angle of being below the bird for this shot. It does seem to be too tightly cropped on the top. There is no implied space for the bird to rise into, but water droplets explained the composition. Thank you for explaining the lig hting and time of day. The focal plane is fascinating, from the face of the bird to the water droplets caught in midair.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
It does seem to be too tightly cropped on the top. There is no implied space for the bird to rise into, but water droplets explained the composition, overriding my initial instinct to deduct a point for the composition. Excellent picture. It seserves the extra point.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 3-Excellent composition and impact

EXTRA POINT 1-Exceptional

TOTAL SCORE 10


This Review is written by: Wayne S.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
The bird in flight is a striking image with the great expanse of the wings. It gives the image great power.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The image is sharp as depicted by the feathers on the wings and the water droplets below. The use of depth of field is effective in making the bird stand out in the image.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Interesting composition having the bird right at the top of the image giving the feeling of flight. The color of the bird really stan ds out against the blue sky.

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

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

EXTRA POINT 0-No extra point

TOTAL SCORE 7


This Review is written by: Louis P

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
fantastic nature story; loved that you were able to catch bird looking right at you, and the wonderful wing position, particularly framing the bird's head

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
overall the image was only good because the bird nearly flew out of the frame, and there was very little definition in the white feathers; however, the head and eyes were very sharp

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
very impactful with the bird looking right at you an d I could see the water droplets falling from the bird.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 3-Excellent composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 8


This Review is written by: Edward X.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Great story with the bird's eyes are looking to the camera

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Not enough room to the top, other part I have no complain.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
What are the points of the lower part, are there water drop? No clear.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 3-Excellent composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 7


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JANUARY 2021 ROUND

Title:  godwit territory domination
  
Goal:   Visiting Mongolajodi water bodies is always fascinating to me. in knee deep water tarrying through a canoe to the nearest position to a purple heron meditating towards its food while the black legged Egrets spot the backgrounds and the black headed Ibis incessantly searching for its pray. The resident bird species is the Godwit which is a small bird with its pound of flesh and a long, sharp beak used to search for food viz. smaller insects or amphibians. When one male tries to dominate another over grazing zone or right to mate with the female, skirmishes occur to which their prime weapon is their beak. My goal was to capture such beak fight between two males.
 
Equipment/Source:   shot with Nikon D4 fitted with 200-500 lens. Shot at 1/4000 shutters in shutter priority since there were chance of getting fight scene. ISO was 1000 to fecilitate the high shutter. used centre weighted average metering to get the tonality of the birds into consideration mostly. a slight exposure bias is used with a +2.3 value. Aperture naturally reduced to 5.6 which provided good separation between subject and background.
Tom Savage commented in his review in the December month about the lack of data in my write up. Well Tom, you can always downlaod the image and see it with either faststone image viewer or DXO photo lab to get the details.
 
Technique:  shot at eye level by sitting on the base of the canoe, handheld. It was momentary fight so I needed to move fast with focusing and camera settings.

Processing:   
 after opening the raw image in PS, processed using the Topaz Sharpen AI with a bit of stabilizing the focus. used Nik viveza to control feather highlights and opened shadows to get a thorough exposure of the fight scene.

Score this image: YES

  

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

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

Review by commentator Rick C.
There is definitely some level of interaction between the two birds. Some of the potential interest value is lost in the deep shadows on the faces due to the lighting angle you were working with. The relative size difference might suggest that these were different sexes or one an adult and one a juvenile, so it may not be a territorial dispute. Since you had the opportunity to witness it first hand, we can go with your impression from the action observed. I would normally say this level of interaction would warrant a 3, however, because the deep shadows on the faces interferes with our ability to see that interaction clearly, I am only going with a 2.

Sharpness is good. Your exposure for the lighting was also handled well. I do feel that under the contrasty light you have in the original capture, more should have been done in the way of offsetting the shadows on key areas of the subjects. In an adjusted version I combined a Screen blend layer masked to only the darker tones and some selective dodging to see if we cannot improve on the viewer’s interaction with the subject. The technical quality is 2.

The composition is reasonable as all of the action is directed toward the center of the frame. After a bit of study, I felt that it was safe to crop in both the right and left to remove a couple of noticeable strands and up from the bottom to reduce that brighter area. The out of focus element behind the interlocked bills is a distraction. The remainder of the background has been handled very nicely. Pictorial rating is a 2.

N-2, T-2, P-2 = 6


This Review is written by: Alex C.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
You can definitely get a sense of the story in this image. The grass is a bit overly focused in terms of depth of field, which takes away from focusing solely on the birds fighting. But overall it definitely captures the story for me.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The birds seem a bit blurry to me, though the coloring of their feathers maintains their being the main focus. I feel like there is almost a painterly feel to the image, probably based on Topaz AI, which makes the image look n ice, but it's not very crisp.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The depth of field is something I'm not a big fan of on this image. The grass in the foreground is too much in focus which is a distraction. Luckily the color tone of the birds makes them stand out more.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 1-Inadequate exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 6


This Review is written by: Rick D.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Hi Suman. As I am not familiar with your area, I searched Mongolajodi online and discovered it is a birding paradise! How fortunate you are to have such a wonderful place at your disposal! As I often say in my reviews, as nature photographers we are actually at the mercy of nature as to what conditions we encounter. At times, the sun may not be in the optimal position, or the light may not be pleasing, or any number of other circumstances may affect our performance. Your determination to accomplish your goal is very impressive. And it paid off for you! I see a well done telling of a strong nature story, the combat which is a part of mating and/or territory domination. Well done!

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Your technique (equipment, settings, actions) is every effective.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
This is a fine photograph which could grace any wild bird publication. It certainly works as is. The background blur is well done. However, I wonder if a tighter crop removing some of the environment would improve it. Also, my eye goes directly to the bright white spot on the beak. I am at a loss to explain it. Within the nature guidelines, could it be darkened so as to lessen its attraction?

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 8


This Review is written by: Adrian B

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Hi! I thought one may have been feeding the other - until I saw your title, so that proves (at least to me) how important the title can be!
A well timed shot. Clearly action going on and as far as there being a Nature Story (with the title) there is no doubt to me that this is fine.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Your image is sharp and as said, well timed. I do wonder whether your fps point was on the foreground grass - this is VERY sharp, with the birds (to me) rendered acceptably sharp rather than pin sharp (like the grass). You don't give us your f stop (we don't have time to seek the information elsewhere)

Also the birds are somewhat in shadow. Im sure you could have sorted this out in post processing and there is a bright white glare on a beak.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The above technical matters affect the enjoyment and clarity of your image to me I'm afraid. But it's well captured.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

EXTRA POINT 0-No extra point

TOTAL SCORE 7


This Review is written by: Bogdan B

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Fighting of the birds is a good ND story, although it's not clearly seen.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Sharp birds and some grass and blurred background is a good option. Image is sharp. Just darker areas I would rather see a little bit brighter.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Panoramic view is a good choice for this scene.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 3-E xcellent composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 9


This Review is written by: LC B.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Good thing you wrote up the action: as the unknowing eye would think this was feeding behavior. I think the behavior captured is interesting but because of some technical and framing issues it is not as strong as it could be.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I think the image suffers from lack of detail on the birds’ heads: especially around the eyes and beaks. The image appears to lose sharpness in that area. Perhaps a slight mask to increase the brightness and clarity would help.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
You don’t mention if you altered the original shot composition by cropping, but I’m assuming, based on the presented dimensions that you did. I think this could be improved upon by altering the drop to remove most of the grass on the right side. This would create more tension in the image by cementing the left-side bird’s apparent dominance.


NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 1-Inadequate exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 6

My name is Suman Bhattacharyya. I've an avid interest in nature & wildlife. I have been taking photos of nature from 2014 but only in 2017 I've taken membership of PSA. I am a member of FIAP (being an EFIAP) as well as RPS (having ARPS). I like all types of nature photos and am willing to commit time to know more about it. Thanks & Regards