Study Group 2


Adrian Binney, QPSA, LRPS

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SEPTEMBER 2019 ROUND
Title:    Wildebeest and crocodile
     
Goal:  To capture the fight to survive of a migrating wildebeest   

Equipment/Source:   Olympus equipment as owned in 2015 (since upgraded lens). EM1 body, 100-300 lens.
At 300mm (equivalent to 600mm)
ISO400, 1/800 and f10
Taken from vehicle handheld.

Technique:   The Pro for the group encouraged us to fix settings in manual once sun fully up and leave the settings there all day. On this occasion, the animals were in a shadow area, so the image was underexposed. No real disadvantage here with a RAW file.
Timed when the croc had surfaced. 

Processing:    Lightroom, crop, lighten significantly, then local adjustments to the croc. Sharpening added.

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

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

 


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AUGUST 2019 ROUND

Title:     Zebras
   
Goal:    To capture an interesting picture of Zebras drinking whilst on a trip to Kenya at the time of the migration - in 2015.
 
Equipment/Source:   Olympus equipment - taken at 300mm (600 Full Frame) - 1/320 f9 ISO250 hand held from a stationary truck. 
 
Technique:    Handheld, focussing on the drinking zebras and timing the shot (on single frame) when their heads had reasonable separation.

Processing: 
 I originally processed this in colour (I rarely tried B&W until 12m ago). After recently deciding to enter mono Salons to force a learning curve, I found this shot and reprocessed it using Lightroom only. Used orange & yellow sliders to darken the grass and played with texture & contrast sliders selectively, to add punch where I thought desirable. I am hoping to use the image in both Nature and Mono Salons  

  

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


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

Review by commentator Rick C.

If I haven’t done so already, please accept my welcome to the group.

The subject is clear and there are several different story lines going on. We can see some herd behavior in how they mingle, the drinking activity and, additionally, the way they tend to line up as a group when drinking in case there is a predator in the area since a group is a harder target than a single isolated animal. That said, there is so much going on in the image that it becomes difficult for a viewer to easily focus on one aspect of the herd as presented. In part this is due to the relative softness of the group in the water, which for me would be the most logical group to isolate. As a result of the lack of a clearly dominant area or aspect I would still rate this as a nature value of 2.

Technically primary focus appears to be on the zebra beginning to advance toward the watering area. Depth of field seems to hold in its immediate vicinity. The lack of critical sharpness on the group in the water is likely a combination of depth of field, their movement, and any movement in the truck while you were shooting. The exposure looks fine, though it is harder to judge that on a BW conversion than on a color image because the conversion can significantly alter tonal values. I don’t feel that making a BW conversion through this means in Lightroom is optimal, but it does beat a straight grayscale conversion. If you have Photoshop, try doing a basic conversion with a Black & White adjustment layer and then drop multiple HSL adjustment layers in underneath it and dial in the tonality you want for an area then mask that layer to only that area. You can fine tune the same colors in different ways using this process. My recommendation would be to alter the effective point of focus to the group in the water by means of something such as the Shake Reduction sharpening option in Photoshop or the Stabilize option in Topaz Sharpen AI. In either case you would need a mask to restrict the effect to just that group and the stream. The conversion has a full tonal range but because we have so many zebras, it isn’t really helping to isolate and define a singular subject group. The midday lighting isn’t helping in that either. I am rating the technical score as 2 primarily for the lack of s dominant subject group or individual.

Pictorially the composition works for where the primary focus and DOF are located. Given that the zebra on the right is already cut into, I would have preferred reframing to get the entire group in the water in completely with the focus on them and a shallow DOF to try to create separation. I understand keeping the entire zebra upper right, but if we do so, why not get the entire tree upper left rather than leaving a touch merger there? Pictorially I am also rating this 2, despite relatively small nits as presented because I believe it could be more effective with an alternative framing to allow a singular dominant group as the primary subject. It remains too chaotic as it is.

N-2, T-2, P-2 = 6 (see the adjusted version where the focus / sharpness on the group drinking has been adjusted along with a couple of tonal tweaks to try to shift emphasis to them.)


Review by Louis P

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
wonderful, certainly tells the story

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
excellent, B&W, catch-light in at least 2 of 4 drinking zebras; all but the farthest away were in sharp focus

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 3-Excellent exposure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I wish this image had been in color because there is just too much B&W; including color in the grasses and water would have helped the viewer focus on the animals

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8


Review by Natalie M

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Nature story evident by the animals drinking in the river, as opposed to just standing around. And being prey animals, I imagine some will always be standing around looking out for predators.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I think there is a little bit of motion blur evident in some of the animals, perhaps a faster shutter speed would have helped, particularly at that long focal length.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
While I like the overall scene, invariably there comes the problem of zebra being chopped in half on the edges. Have you considered a wide pano crop of the 4 zebra and the water in front of them? Good choice for black and white, it works for me.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Andy H

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
There is a strong story here of the zebras drinking and the actions between the zebras.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Zebras work well in mono and your processing has help bring out the contrast. I am still amazed that our brains are willing to accept a mono image of a colour subject. This is a good example of a picture within a picture. The image is soft probably due to the slow shutter speed for this lens/ I would have chosen a shutter speed in excess of 1/500sec or more to ensure a sharper image. Aperture is about right.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I would have concentrated on the group of four in the bottom left of the picture as my subject. The inclusion of others is a little distracting, as is the grass on the bottom RHS. My eye is not sure what to concentrate on and is jumping about the image. Therefore the image lacks impact.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Dennis H

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Interesting nature image depicting zebras taking a drink.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Image shows adequate sharpness. Camera settings look good. Looks interesting in monochrome.

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 3-Excellent exposure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Unfortunately the number of zebras milling about detracts somewhat from the 4 drinking zebras.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8


Review by William S

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
You have a strong nature story in this image.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I see that you worked on the contrast but think that more contrast between the black and white stripes would make this image step out. Do you use levels or curve adjustmants?

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 3-Excellent exposure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Cropping off the heads of some zebra takes away from the photograph. Cropping closer to focus on the zebra that are drinking would improve the impact.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8


Review by Janice R

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
I love this image and think the story of the group drink is a good example of a common zebra behavior.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Really interesting image. I love how the zebras are all lined up drinking. I think the b&w works well and that you did a good job of making the zebras stand out against a similarly colored background. Great job with the exposure and focus as well as making the zebras more bright and contrasty. Lovely image

SCORE T (Technical Quality) 3-Excellent exposure color balance and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Very nice compositiona nd the use of b&w increased the impact.

SCORE P (Pictorial Quality) 3-Excellent composition and impact

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8


Review by Martin P

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
The zebra drinking certainly demonstrate a basic behavior of eating/drinking. The large group filling the rest of the frame don't appear to be demonstrating any particularly strong behavior.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The monochrome treatment certainly highlights the coat of the zebra. Exposure are sharpness appear to work in this context.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I am struggling to read this image, I am overwhelmed by the large number of Zebra in this shot. The element of the four drinking creatures is somewhat lost against the larger number of creatures behind them. that would have made a delightful image I feel on its own.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 5

I am retired (64 as at 2018) and keen to devote more time to photography and travelling. My photography started 40 years ago with a home darkroom and like many, was kickstarted again with digital SLR’s becoming affordable.
I was a Canon man - 5 and 7 bodies, with many L series lenses, but sold the whole lot in 2015 due to weight issues. I now use an Olympus EM1 Mkii with many of their Pro series lenses and don’t regret the move. My core wildlife lens is a 300 f4 prime, which is razor sharp. Used with a 1.4 converter gives a Full Frame equivalent of 840mm - in a recent trip to Costa Rica 80% of my shots were at this reach (birds there are small and other wildlife are very high in the canopy!).
When at home in the UK, I enjoy visiting zoos and bird protection areas, as well as trying to photograph insects in gardens etc. I also travel abroad to enjoy wildlife experiences - Africa and Costa Rica mostly.
I am Secretary and Committee Member at a large Camera Club (Winchester, Hampshire) and enjoy helping to run a large club (200 members). I continue learning a lot from the many excellent photographers (particularly in use of Lightroom and what makes a good image). I don’t use Photoshop. In December I was awarded LRPS - the first distinction level of three awarded by The Royal Photographic Society.