Study Group 2


Charlie Yang (C)

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FEBRUARY 2020 ROUND
Title:     Straight on 
 
Goal:   With this winter warmer than last, I have to travel farther to shoot bald eagles in winter. This was shot on Iowa River, spot an area birds are active, like 35-50 of them in the stretch. With a extender 1.4, was hoping to get better result on flights, bank, fishing, etc.  
 

Equipment/Source:    Nikon D500, 200-500mm @ 650, with TC 14 extender, F/8, 1/1000s, ISO 1800, on tripod, I think.
  
Technique:     One of the problem with more birds in actions is hard to decide which one to follow/trace, but this one dead straight on, with comanions called out 10 o'clock, I aim and start firing, till it turn and speed away. 

Processing:     LR, crop, adjust exposure, shadow+, black/white, and bump up a bit of texture, denoise a bit.
Note: first time use TC still question about when to use it, properly. I see some difficuilty on focusing. but, learning. 


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

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



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JANUARY 2020 ROUND
Title:   Snowy Owl in field   
 
Goal:    Look for and photography for this illusive bird - snowy owl in the wild. Since I have never done that. Count it as one of the item on my 2020 list. 

Equipment/Source:    Nikon D500, lens 200-500mm @500mm, f/5.6, S=1/250, ISO-200. hand held, crawl on ground, support with elbows and dirt. 
   
Technique:    Arrived the field 45 minutes before sunrise. Drove around the harvested corn fields and glance over farm house, silo, empty fields, etc. All of sudden, saw a white dot from my glance. Stop the car, grab my gear, I can see her in the morning light, just stand on a bump in the field. As I approach closer, I stop and take two shots, then moved in closer. This is the closest as I got. Once I got two shots in, brought up my bino to take a closer look, was she pretty, and I pick one showed some shyness in her 

Processing:  LR severe crop and adjust exposure, shadow, texture, minor darken around the edge. 

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 went a long way toward achieving your goal in this capture. The behavior is a rest pose. You have included enough habitat to all it an environmental portrait, but I wouldn’t object to a little more room on the left and right sides. More on the right as that is the direction she is looking in. I feel the nature story is properly rated as a 2 for an environmental portrait.

You handled the low light exposure fairly well. There is no clipping in any of the brighter feathers. There is a slight color cast, but given the angle of the light I don’t see that as an issue. I do feel the subject lacks the sharpness that a portrait will generally need to succeed. Also, possibly due to the extent of the crop you made, some noise is showing in the smooth areas of the background. I am rating the technical quality as a 2.

As I noted above, I feel the composition is a bit tight, but you can get away with this because she is looking back into the frame. That head turn is actually adding interest to the image. What I do feel the image needs to get closer to its potential is to remove the noise, add the sharpening to the subject and

Create a little more tonal separation between the subject and the environment. There is plenty of room in the tonality of the feathers to do this. By masking such an adjustment in to just the subject, we would create the tonal and contrast differential we would be looking for. I am rating the pictorial quality as a 2.

N-2, T-2, P-2 = 6 See the adjusted image I am sending along.


Review by Andy H

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Great opportunity to take such a difficult image. Gave yourself some task. There is no real story for me the bird is just sitting.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I fully appreciate the difficulty in getting this shot but sadly the image is soft. The eye must be pin sharp or it just sent work. You say it was a sever crop and this my not help the sharpness. Also I wouldn't go below 1/500 sec for shutter speed. Even sitting you are using a long focal length. I also anticipate a bird might fly so push up the shutter speed to 1/1000 sec and sacrifice ISO.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
This image had all the ingredients to have impact but sadly doesn't make it. Composition I do like the glance over the shoulder.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 5


Review by Rich F

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
I understand the desire to photography a species that is illusive. The image of the snowy is a good portrait shot - a snowy owl in a harvested corn field (?).

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The snowy is looking back over it shoulder which gives a pleasant pose. The exposure is very good, there may be a tiny bit that is blowout but if so, it does not distract from the image. However the snowy is out of focus - you did an extreme crop and it seems that the point of focus is the vegetation just to the left of the snowy. That and the snowy just below it are the sharpest areas of the image. You shot at ISO 200, that is a very low ISO for a D500, you could have given yourself two additional stops of light and gone to 1/1000 of a second or F8 and 1/500 of a second.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The image is composed well. I like the over the shoulder look. It works well in this image. The snowy is well place in the image though I might have darken the white area in the front (without cloning).


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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 5


Review by Todd G

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Brilliant shot of an elusive bird. The bird is looking towards you which is nice, but not much else regarding the nature story.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Shooting at 500mm with a low exposure time and low ISO is what I feel makes this image blurry. Stopping down your f-stop to f/8 and raising your ISO to 800 and matching your exposure time, may have made the image sharper. The body is blurred and not clear as is the eye. The side lighting is nice and provides nice tones. Try using the sharpening slider along the body to increase sharpening. Bringing in your crop as you mention “severe” this can also degrade your composition and clarity.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Nice composition. Lighting is nice, maybe consider adding a little exposure to increase light.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Bruce F

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
This image is more of a portrait, since the owl isn’t engaging in any behavior, except searching or scanning the field of view. Perhaps, waiting for a more decisive moment like pruning or cleaning feathers, a yawn, or even one eye open the other shut, would increase the nature story content value of the image.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
: I think the severe cropping here didn’t help you. Overall, sharpness is less than adequate. I think your owl is a bit tight in the frame and you could have back off a bit and showed more of the environment. Less cropping would help with the overall sharpness issue. Aperture setting f5.6 is a troubling f-stop, for me in most cases it doesn’t yield enough depth of field for birds. Notice how the depth of field falls off in the breast feathers. To me you made a mistake with your settings, ISO 200 is way to low to use under these lighting conditions. Raising the ISO to 800 or 1000 would have allow you to shoot at f8.0, and get better depth of field, allow you to get the eyes, face, and breast feathers sharp. At f5.6, your zone of sharpness is just too small with the lens you were using. I try very much to avoid f5.6 aperture, over the years, I have experienced too many shots where the dept of field coverage wasn’t adequate enough. Also, with less cropping, your background would inherently have more pixels, and the noise in the background would be less noticeable.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The soft warm early morning light is excellent. It really makes the eyes pop! To me you are in between, a one-eyed look, or a two eyed look of the subject. The second right eye is a bit of a sliver. My choice would have been either one eye framing, or two-eyed look with the second eye more looking at the viewer, not a in between as you have in your image. Patience here might have reward you with a more decisive moment. There is a fine line between getting closer and frightening the animal or bird away by getting to close in to is flight or fight zone.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Dennis H

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
You've certainly put a lot of time and effort into capturing this snowy owl in a natural setting.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Nice colouring on owl. Background compliments the owl. Bird appears to lack detail in feathers and one eye only partly visible.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The bird certainly has impact. I believe the image could be improved by cropping lefthand side to remove distracting elements.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Tom K

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Very nice image of a Snowy Owl. This is more on the portrait end of a nature shot instead of telling a story.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
It's a bit soft, but you are shooting at only 1/250th so it might help to shorten your shutter speed. I like the soft morning glow. It is a very appealing light on the owl.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Glad you got your owl shot, it's still on my list of unfullfilled goals. The element to the left of the bird is distracting to me, but as a Nature shot, you could not remove it. Nice portrait.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Malena K

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Snowy owl in it's natural habitat. Nice light

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I would have tried a tripod as the body of the owl is not in focus.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
nice depth of field

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6




I love to travel, and travels bring back pictures and memories, that’s one of the reasons I join PSA, to take better pictures and learn what to adjust afterwards. Just start to learn the capabilities of LR and PS, and things some of my club friends can do with them just simply amaze me. 

Nikon D5300, D810 are my main camera, and still learning what they can do, and it's fun to walk around to take different pictures at different time and under different light. 

My other pastime is golf. Hope to play out 50 states PGA courses. 

I live in Schaumburg, Chicago suburb, looking forward to get some fun experiences with Nature.