Study Group 2


Larry Treadwell (C)

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JANUARY 2020 ROUND
Title:    On the Run!
 
   
Goal:    The American Pika is the smallest member of the rabbit family. Fully grown a large male may be 6-7 inches in length as measured from nose tip to the extended toes of his hind legs. He weights about 4 ounces. When sitting, the pika will easily fit in the palm of your hand. Due to the fact that the Pika cannot keep cool he lives only at the highest altitudes and with global warming is an endangered species because he is running out of altitude to survive in the summer heat. Years ago he could be found at about 8,000 feet of elevation, now he lives only above 11,000 feet due to global warming. My goal was to capture this little speed demon running at full speed.   


Equipment/Source:   Nikon D7200, Nikkor 200-400 f4 lens with tc1.4. ISO 400, f7.1, 1/800, Handheld
Taken on the high tundra of the Rocky Mountains at over 11,000 feet on a slightly cloudy day. Image processed from Nikon RAW file in Lightroom. I positioned myself laying flat on the ground to get as close to eye level with my subject as possible. My camera rig was supported by mounting my ballhead with Wimberly Sidekick onto a Frisbee with a washer and a ¼ inch screw. This set up allows me to get the rig close to the ground and still be able to slide it rapidly across the ground to track this subject. 

Technique:  The Pika is a farmer who spends his summer months harvesting alpine grasses and storing them on rock shelves in his under ground barn to eat during the winter. He is a favorite meal of various raptors and weasels who inhabit the tundra. Thus, the pika first peaks out of his barn, and when he thinks it is safe he makes a mad dash out onto the tundra, grabs a mouthful of grass and races back to his barn, hopefully without becoming lunch. As he runs he zigs and zags to be as unpredictable as possible while seeking any cover such as rocks that may be on his route. Tracking an erratic target the size of a tennis ball and traveling at high speed is a challenge as I struggled first find and begin tracking the pika, obtain and then focus keep as the pika raced to his barn. The average running time per dash was about 8 seconds. I spent 6 hours and fired off nearly 1000 images trying to catch a sharp image of a pika facing the camera, with food in his mouth and running at top speed.

Processing:  In post I seriously cropped this image, something I rarely do. This is about 50% of the frame. Due to the soft light when this shot was captured I only sharpened, increased contrast and slightly increased saturation. The fact that the pika in this shot had just crested a hill, along with the long lens, allowed me to get better separation between the pika and the background. Additionally, my position at ground level so that I was not shooting down on this animal also allowed for separation.

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

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DECEMBER 2019 ROUND

Title:    Sulking in the Shadows
   
Goal:   Alligators possess a miniscule brain wired for two things, sex and food. While the everglades is huge gators jealously guard their water hole from all comers, an intruder does so at his own risk. I found this gator hiding in the reeds near the edge of a water hole. He is an extremely skittish specimen due to his injury and was trying to get away from me when he heard me walking along the bank. A healthy gator of this size would stand his ground. Note the lower jaw and how it is twisted and deformed. Several years earlier this unfortunate fellow lost a battle during which another gator quite literally snapped his lower jaw and twisted it out of place. With his jaw so deformed he does not have a true bite since he cannot close his jaws to hold prey. This will mean he cannot capture large prey and thus has to survive primarily on turtles and fish he can gulp. Still he is lucky as most gators with damaged jaws simply starve to death.

Equipment/Source:    Nikon D810, Nikkor 200-400mm f4 lens + tc1.4
ISO 1600, f5.6, 1/350
Processed from a Nikon RAW file
 
Technique:   This photo was taken near dusk and in a extremely heavy rain storm. My goal on this day was to capture a gator stalking prey in the storm when he is better camouflaged. I feel the slight amount on light on the gators head is enough to help his stand out. Gators are well camouflaged and I wanted to show this coloration as well, the rippled water helps this effect as well. The image shown here was not what I set out to capture. It was just a chance opportunity that allowed me to capture this unusual jaw configuration. The markings you see on the water are the raindrops striking the surface of the water. The shot was taken while kneeling and hand holding the camera rig. 

Processing:   
The image was processed in Lightroom from a Nikon RAW file. There was a slight crop to straighten the image (this is almost full frame). I reduced highlights and adjusted both white and black points. I used the adjustment brush to brighten the gator’s dental work. I added some contrast but I tried to keep the gator hidden since that is what the scene looked like. There is, in reality little contrast between the gator and the water but I feel the slight light on his head is enough to make hi visible to the viewer. 

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

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Review by commentator Tom S.

 Interesting story about the broken jaw and somewhat of a nature story, but a little hard to understand by just looking at the image without the story.  I think it is a little too dark.   Brightening the whole image helps to be able to see all of the gator better, especially all the way out to the end of the snout.  A big problem is the shallow depth of field.  The eye and tooth are in focus but the rest of it is kind of soft, especially the end of the snout. 

 N3, T1, P2  = 6


Review by Sylvia W

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Like the detail you've put into the story behind the picture - this adds an element to the photo and allows the viewer to see for themselves the broken jaw - which many people may not see when looking at the photo if they didn't have the background information.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I like the overall editing and balance of colour - the circles of the water drops adds an element to separate the subject from the background. When I zoomed in the whole picture appears soft but the thumbnail seems to be sharp?

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Having the alligator full frame gives it a sense of power and allows the viewer to focus on the core element of the picture.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 7


Review by Charlie Y

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
interesting image, thanks for sharing. learn a lot.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
horrible weather condition to photogragh this, I would wrap and left already. good shot

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I understand take the shot parallel to the gator, to get a clear shot and DOF, but otherwise, I'd frame this a bit differently.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6

IF APPLICABLE, WHY DESERVING OF EXTRA POINT FOR EXCELLENCE
horrible weather condition to take this, applaud

SCORE E (Exceptional) 1

GRAND TOTAL WITH EXTRA POINT 7


Review by Ken W

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Nice portrait of a gator in the water.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Good exposure and very sharp image. I originally thought it was a little dark, but after reading the story, I liked it at this exposure.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Nicely composed photo, with the impact being the crooked jaw. Again the story helped with this photo, my first thought was that something with that jaw is not right.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 8


Review by Louis P

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
wonderful nature image in a place where you would not find me!

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
excellent exposure, color and sharpness; remarkable given the gloomy, rainy conditions;

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
really wonderful composition and it had a very strong impact on me.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 9

IF APPLICABLE, WHY DESERVING OF EXTRA POINT FOR EXCELLENCE
given the very marginal weather conditions and near matching colors between animal and water, this image was remarkable

SCORE E (Exceptional) 1

GRAND TOTAL WITH EXTRA POINT 10


Review by MJ S

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Good portrait

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Need more separation of subject from dark background

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Average

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Suman B.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
the story of the gator with picture makes it a remarkable episode. without the commentary it would have been hard to spot the reality. thank you Larry for your briefing. Yes, it's really a nature story. the disloaction of the jaw is reminiscent of the forgotten fight but scars continuing and the abundance of foods for the gator is what is keeping it alive is also showing. understandable is the fact that it is going away from you suits the left to right positioning too.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
except for the fact that a slight water droplet smudged the lower jaw just beneath the teeth but that adds to the story. WILD LIFE as it is.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
the rain drops are making this image an unique one. combined effect of the weather and the crispy sharp image along with sharp white teeth is keeping interest alive.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 9

I am retired and living the good life in south Florida.  I have always had a love affair with the wilderness and the natural world.  This naturally lead to an interest in photography to bring home memories from my adventures in the wilderness.  I have thus been involved in photography for more than 40 years and have worked as a semi-professional including work for the PGA and LPGA as well as shooting sports for various local colleges. 

My favorite photographic locations are Everglades National Park (the hardest place I’ve ever found to photograph), the Great Smoky Mountains and Rocky Mountain National Park.  That said, I will go anywhere to get a good image.  I enjoy shooting the Milky Way and the night sky, a real challenge, and I enjoy using long exposures.  

I have taught photography on the college level, belong to several local camera groups and have served as a photo judge at local clubs and for other local competitions.  Since retiring I have had several photographic exhibits in south Florida.

I am member of the online group called The Nikonians and shoot Nikon cameras currently using a D800 and D810.  While I have a collection of Nikon only lenses my favorites are my 24-70 and my baby, a 200-400 f4 beast that weighs 7.3 pounds.   My hiking buddy is my tripod that goes everywhere I do.