Study Group 2


William C. Smiley (B)

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AUGUST 2019 ROUND
Title:   Annoyed Fossa
   
Goal:    My camera club was asked by the local nature science center to accept a project to photograph the animals in their small zoo. My goal was to try and capture the animals performing a natural act.
 
Equipment/Source:    The source was a RAW file taken with a Nikon D4, Nikkor 28-300mm, hand held, f 5.6, 1/200 sec., at 300mm and ISO 2500.
  
Technique:  The Fossa is the largest predator on the island of Madagascar – the only place it is found in its natural habitat. It was the end of the day (after hours) when we entered the grounds to begin photographing the animals. The light level in the shaded area was very low requiring a wide open lens setting and a relatively fast shutter speed to hand hold and stop action. I spent time with this Fossa hoping that he would do something before taking a nap. Fossas do not have a regular activity period, they are equally active throughout the day and night (cathemeral), with periods of inactivity during the hottest and coldest parts of the day or night. He was active, moved around in an exploring manner and then provided the action in this photograph.

Processing:    Noise reduction, sharpening, and exposure adjustments were made in Adobe Camera RAW. Cropping, conversion to sRGB and luminosity layer adjustments were applied in Photoshop.

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

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



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JULY 2019 ROUND
Title:    Antelope Slot Canyon 
 
Goal:    During the spring I visited Antelope Slot Canyon near Page, Arizona. This narrow canyon was formed by the wear of water rushing through rock over hundreds of years creating deep narrow slots. The narrow openings at the top allow streams of light to shine into the canyon highlighting the texture and red color.
My goal was to photograph the bright colors of the rock when the sun peeped through the cracks.  
 

Equipment/Source:    The photograph was shot with a 28-300 Nikkor lens and a Nikon D810 as a RAW file.

Technique:   Camera settings were f 8. 1/10 sec, ISO 320 and 32mm. The camera was mounted on a monopod.

Processing:   Adjustments to highlights, shadows, exposure, noise reduction and sharpness were made in Camera RAW with luminosity adjustments and cropping completed in PhotoShop.

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

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

 
Review by commentator Dan C.

The striations in the sandstone due to ages of floodwaters plus the gradation of the lighting from top to bottom gives this image its story value.  Landscape shots are tough to create stories but you did here.  You did not indicate whether this was Upper Antelope or Lower Antelope on the other side of the road.  If it was lower antelope and you get a chance to go back try for a longer exposure.  You will bet some unbelievable colors in the sandstone.  That is more difficult for upper antelope because it has much greater foot traffic.

Pictorially your composition is good but could be improved by going to a normal vertical instead of a near square.  That actually shows the striations better and eliminates the merger of the shadows in the upper right edge with the projection background.

Technically it is a tad dark but that could be due to differences in the brightness of our monitors.  I did open it up again to put a little detail in the shadows.  I also feel you can really enhance the striations with a bit if structure.

N3, T3, P2, E0, Total 8


Review by Larry T.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Antelope Slot Canyon is a photographers dream of a site and in the right light it can be magical. However, this is a nature study group and the onus is on presenting a strong nature story line. Other than the time worn and weathered rocks I do not find a strong storyline. To me this is an interesting environmental landscape.

SCORE N (Nature) 2-basic shot--no nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I do not feel your stated goal of photographing the bright colors of the rocks was met by the results. From the appearances the light was not at an advantageous angle and left much of the canyon in shadow resulting in a less vibrant image. Perhaps the monopod itself limited your exposure time as opposed to a tripod but the image lacks drama and pop. Perhaps taking multiple exposures and processing as an HDR may have helped bring this image to life. Overall, this just feels underexposed.

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 2-Average exposure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
You indicate the adjustment of highlights and shadows in your processing but I feel you went the wrong direction. I placed this image in Photoshop and worked the exposure, contrast and brightness and was able to bring this more to life. You have one area at the top that if pushed will look overexposed but this can be controlled with dodging and burning techniques. By making the image brighter you can bring some of the detail in the shadows while attaining those “bright colors” you indicate were your goal.

SCORE P (Pictorial Quality) 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Robert D.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Not really a nature moment.

SCORE N (Nature) 1-does not fit Nature definition

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
This is a much photographed scene and difficult to expose because of the extreme contrasts. Only a small area is in focus. At the top. The highlights are a little blown and the dark areas are grainy and not well defined. There is no detail in the lower dark area. I would use multiple bracketed exposures and HDR to overcome these shortcomings.

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 1-Inadequate exposure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
great potential with corrections

SCORE P (Pictorial Quality) 1-Inadequate composition and impact

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 3


Review by Adrian B.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
William, I suspect you are going to get consistent comments re 'lack of story' and I will fall into that group. I have been twice to the same canyon and found it challenging to get images that show off the amazing feeling one has when there. Luck is needed for the light to come in at the time you are down there to give the amazing colours of the rocks that some images show.

You had some light lifting the middle area, but the image is still a lot of the remaining unlit rock areas.

So no story for nature.

SCORE N (Nature) 2-basic shot--no nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I think there is motion movement due to the 1/10th exposure despite the monopod - especially on the rocks close to the lens. I would have sacrificed higher ISO for more speed - especially with your good camera.

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 2-Average exposure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I am afraid I have seen many more interesting and colourful pictures of that slot canyon. The canyon can be full of shapes, curves and different colours.

SCORE P (Pictorial Quality) 1-Inadequate composition and impact

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 5


Review by Bruce F.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
The nature story is here with the patterns of erosion caused by the eons of water flowing through these slot canyons. I can’t really see how you cannot show the nature story, for the geological story is etched into the rock.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-positive nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The image is exposed well; there are not any blown highlights. The dynamic range of the scene is within the sensor capabilities.

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 2-Average exposure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Pictorial considerations and composition are where great images are separate from good or ordinary ones. We have seen so many of these images from the slot canyons; they are no longer fresh like they once were back in the mid-1990s. Thus, I feel you need to do something more at this location. I also feel that less is more.
The wedge-shaped area where it looks like the light is hitting is the brightest area of the image. This is where our mind takes us first. It’s toward the top of the image and almost bleeds out the top. There is a counterbalancing dark shape wedge on the bottom, where our mind takes us secondarily. Thus, there is a pick-pong effect between these two areas. The diagonal ridge helps connect them. However, I feel that the balance is off, that the middle area is almost devoid of interest. Also, the color is very uniform, except for the one light wedge of rock at the upper left.
The uniform color, unbalanced composition, and great areas of unvarying rock, just don’t provide the impact I have seen in other images. It’s difficult, but I would look to create more graphic and simpler images that have more of those mauves, purples, and pinks that we have come to know from this location. Maybe, instead of a wide-angle lens, a short telephoto would isolate smaller areas. The light blue shaft of light coming in from the top intrigues me.


SCORE P (Pictorial Quality) 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Bogdan B.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Landscapes can hardly have strong natural story.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Whole image seems a little bit soft to me. I believe, that so long exposure is on the limit of monopod.
Some areas on left and in the middle are very dark with no details.

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 2-Average exposure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Format of the image is a little bit strange: not square, not portrait 3:4.

SCORE P (Pictorial Quality) 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Linda C.
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
I have seen this picture many times.

SCORE N (Nature) 1-Nature story minimal or contains unrelated hand of man

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I think the shot would be more interesting if it were taken in landscape mode.

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 2-Average exposure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Nice picture but no story to it.

SCORE P (Pictorial Quality) 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 5



Retired university professor aspiring to become a fine art photographer.  I enjoy a variety of photography styles but tend to photograph birds, landscapes and wildlife.  All critiques that may provide insights for producing better photographs are welcomed.

Equipment used:  CAMERAS-Nikon D4 and Nikon D810

LENS –Nikon 28-300mm, 200-500mm, 50 mm

              Tamron 24-70mm

Tokina  17-35mm, 100mm macro

Rokinon  14mm 

Software:  Photoshop CS6, Topaz Studio, Nil Collection