Study Group 2


Susan Newlin (B)

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FEBRUARY 2021 ROUND

Title:      Take Off
 
Goal:     Capture Egrets in a natural activity and showing the magnificent size and grace of these large birds.
 
Equipment/Source:    Canon 7D Mark II with IS II 100-400mm lens set to 264. Mounted on tripod.

Technique:     Vising wildlife preserve salt lagoon in Southern California (Batiquitos Lagoon), looking for birds exhibiting natural behavior. Spent several hours watching the Egrets fishing, eating, and interacting. Trying to capture a dramatic wing-span for this Great Egret, I managed to capture him in take-off from the opposite shore.

Processing:     Topaz DeNoise AI, Camera Raw for light control and slight contrast, NIK Detail Extractor focused on bird.

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.
You caught the wings nicely and I would say you pretty much accomplished your goal in that regard. While there is behavior, it is relatively common and not sufficiently strong to raise the nature story value over a 2 for me.

The basic technical elements look reasonable to me. With the conversion to BW, it is harder to judge the highlights, but they seem to be rendered well. The conversion does create issues with the legs. In color, they would likely still separate from the green or brown reeds behind, but in BW those darker greens equate to much the same tonal value as the legs and so we lose them in a tonal merger with the background T several points. In this case you probably needed to process the green conversion separately to push it lighter and maintain a good tonal differential. The technical rating is 2.

The composition is on the tight side given the strength of the implicit action. That said, I think you probably would get away with it. The tonal merger on the legs remains an issue pictorially. Try to remember not to put your name on the photos for this forum. The pictorial rating is a 2.

N-2, T-2, P-2, E-1 = 7 (I feel the bonus point is warranted given the excellent impact of the image and the strong interest value in the excellent feather structure and detail in the open wings.)


This Review is written by: Rick D.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Hi Susan.
We never tire of Great Egrets. A big part of that is the play of light on the white feathers. You achieved your goal with this shot. Of course, as you know, this is very normal activity.


TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Everything about your settings and technique are good.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
In my view, you gave a fine photograph much stronger impact with your conversion to B/W. (Or did you shoot in mono?) Your choice of it removed the possibility of distractions often evident in color. For instant, the color and height of the background reeds could compete with the eye for the subject. Also, your crop is very well done, leaving room to move for the egret. Nice job!

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

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 3-Excellent composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 8


This Review is written by: Adrian B

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Susan, this is a quality image very well presented in mono. It would be interesting to see the Raw file (this system has no system for showing these) - as I would love to see how you ended up with such a well handled image. Yes, flying is what birds do, but I without doubt feel this has enough nature story - especially with just enough of the environment visible behind.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Exceptionally well handled, sharp and I love the dark background with the reed detail. I would consider reducing t he whites a tad in the water, but this is a mere suggestion - I was always told by a pro that ideally you don't want the brightest part of an image at the bottom and I try not to have. the brightest area not the key focus.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
A great image. I love the diagonal. You have a winner - in Nature and Mono! A 10 (and thoroughly deserved).

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: LC B.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
A strong capture of the egret taking off, but I think hampered by the composition.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Technically I think this is a strong image. Would be interested to see the original version as in b/w the legs are lost and with such birds the lovely black would be nice to see against the (presumed) greenery behind it.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
My quibble with this image is mainly due to the composition. Such a tight crop of a bird taking off leaves no where for the bird, a nd thus my eye, to go. Consider opening the framing above the subject up a tad so there is a bit more negative space for both to travel.

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

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 3, 7


This Review is written by: Suman B.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
while you gave time to observe the bird activity, this needs to be complemented. observation is often key to great shots. why not try the npoty link to get some great egret shots to consider - (https://naturephotographeroftheyear.com/previous-editions/npoty-2020-results/)

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
technically handled the backlight with the white feathers inner shadows very well. the rim lighting of the legs are also excellently captured. is there any particular reason you converted it to monochrome?

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
the embossing of name in the below right corner is good to facebook sharing but I must caution you it's not tolerated at the exhibitions.

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: Bogdan B

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Taking off is a hard to catch situation, so N3.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Sharp image with good visible feathers.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Due to large DOF lines of plants in background are a little bit distractive.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

EXTRA POINT 0-No extra point

TOTAL S CORE 8


This Review is written by: Nirmalya B.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Moderate nature story indeed but I appreciate the pictorial aspect of the photograph.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Acceptably sharp image with beautiful exposure demands full marks in technical aspect.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
From pictorial point of view I am impressed with the photograph. My only submission against the processing is, with noise reduction the critical sharpness of the feathers is also flattened to some extent.

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



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JANUARY 2021 ROUND
Title:    Yummy 
 
Goal:   Capture Interaction between parent and chick

Equipment/Source:    Canon 7D Mark II with 100-400 Canon IS and 1.6 extender. Tripod. Camera setting to Aperture Priority, ISO 400, f8 and spot metering

Technique:   Evening visit to local lake found American Coots feeding their young. Waited in a sitting position until they came close enough to get some detail on interactions. Father would pull up shreds of algae and feed to chicks. the chicks then learned to find it themselves, but this chick seemed to want feeding from parent.

Processing:    Topaz DeNoise, Camera Raw, and NIK Detail on birds specifically with about 50% opacity

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 Tom S.
Susan, this has a strong nature story. Good that you could hang around to catch this action. Score: N3

The highlights are too bright, especially on the head and bill of the chick. The head of the adult is sharp but the head of the chick is not but that confuses me since they appear to be on the same plane. Maybe just sharpen the chick more to match the adult. Score: T2

Since the birds are the center of interest, you can crop all around to make them bigger in the frame. Just too much unnecessary water. Score: P2

N3, T2, P2, E0 = 7


This Review is written by: Dave F.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Nice interaction between the two Coots

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Nice clean sharp image showing excellent detail that is well exposed

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
This image is well composed and your patience paid off. The sunlight coming in is lighting the coots nicely. I enjoy the low angle shot as opposed to be standing and looking down - very nice.

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

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-A verage exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 3-Excellent composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 7


This Review is written by: Rich F.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
This is an interesting image showing a parent (you said the father) feeding the chick. The story you tell, of the chick, begging versus feeding themself is interesting, though unfortunately it is not capture in this picture.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The image is well exposed. There appears to be a bit of softness, perhaps due to cropping or perhaps the focus point is slightly in front of the chick.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The parent and chi ck and are well positioned and are separated. There are two things I would consider adjusting in this image. First I could crop it to a pan. The large amount of "negative" space above the parents head and the blurry reflections do not help the image. Secondly I would work on the processing to add some punch. The first look flat or slightly washed out.

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

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

EXTRA POINT 0-No extra point

TOTAL SCORE 6


This Review is written by: Haru N.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
You captured the good moment of showing feeding interaction. It would be difficult shot because the movement of bird is so quick. Given that situation, you have done a good job.
If you look at the image objectively, the image is weak to support the story of "feeding interaction" and just end up being portrait of 2 birds in my view.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Light is not bad although it is harsh light. Light hit the head of parent birds and entire chick.
For my eye, the sharpness is a bit loose on the subject. I prefer to have more blurred background. The reflection on the water, especially around the head of parents bird, is distracting my eye.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Composition is simple and it is good in this case.
I wish there is some "wow" factor in the image. Again it is pictorial good image but not strong image to support nature story, I am afraid.

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

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

EXTRA POINT 0-No extra point

TOTAL: 6


This Review is written by: Natalie M

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Lovely nature story quite apparent to the viewer.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The younger bird appears a little soft. You haven't provided your shutter speed, but perhaps that was a factor.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Nicely composed within the frame. Some of the impact is lost due to the harsh lighting.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average com position and impact

TOTAL SCORE 7


This Review is written by: Dennis H

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Good nature story with Adult feeding and teaching the chicks.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Nice colour on L/H chick. Adult bird lacks a little feather detail. Eye clear on R/H adult, shadow areas on adult need dodging to bring out more detail, also bill a little blown out.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Image has impact but I think it could be improved by cropping the top and bottom to highlight the birds more.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHN ICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 7


This Review is written by: Bruce F

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Good nature story with the young coot receiving shreds of algae from the parent. Exchange of food from parent to young makes a strong nature story element.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The image sharpness is a little less than desirable. There is a lack of feather detail in the breast of the parent, specifically, and overall. I think it’s your lens. The Canon 100 – 400 mm f4.5 - f5.6 IS lens, the first version is known for is lack of sharpness. I have this lens but replaced it f or versi on II. The difference between them is very noticeable. If you want better quality images, I would replace this lens. The version I of this lens was announced in 1998. Lens technology has improved greatly since then. The second version is a much better lens and produces high-quality files.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The angle of view is pretty good, with your sitting position. Getting low and on the bird's level helps the viewer see their world. One aspect of this image is your placing the birds in the center of the frame. I don’t think all the water above the birds helps the composition, the center placement of the subjects is static and less dynamic. Since you have some reflections, I would have included them and move downward in my composition eliminating this negative space on the top that not adding to the visual impact.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposur e

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

EXTRA POINT 0-No extra point

TOTAL SCORE 6


This Review is written by: Suman B.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
the direct interactive feeding from the parent to the chick merits a strong nature story.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
the denoise is not doing you good instead its making your image soft. the tac sharpness we look forward in nature images is lacking. looking at 100% of your image seems the red eyes are lost as well the whiteness of the beak rather flat. also the highlights from the background are also rather dull.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
its showing good shadow details thus prov iding a good pictorial show. horizontal flipping is better according to my judgement.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 3-Excellent composition and impact

EXTRA POINT 0-No extra point

TOTAL SCORE 8

 

Susan is a juried photographic artist from the Cape Cod Art Center. She has recently moved to Southern California and now concentrates her work there.  

Susan’s work focuses on wildlife and landscapes. She has exhibited in several juried galleries and shows. She is active in photo clubs in Southern California and Massachusetts as well as the Photographic Society of America. Her work focuses on showing birds and other animals in their natural habitat or in various life activities, as well as natural landscapes that tell the story of our environment and its beauty.

Her work can be found on-line at www.facebook.com/SusanNewlinNaturePhoto