Study Group 2


Louis Paley - B

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OCTOBER 2019 ROUND
Title:   8 Point Buck 
     
Goal:     I was surprised to find this beautiful 8 pt buck so late in the season (mid-December. As a result I did not have my good camera and lens with me. However, I just could not pass the opportunity to try to get a good photo of this animal.

Equipment/Source:   Sony compact camera DSC-WX300 in AUTO, (4.3-86mm, F3.5-6.5); speed 1/50, F6.3, I=800, Metering mode-multi-segment, no exposure bias, focal length of 75mm.

Technique:    Hand-held camera at about 25 ft.

Processing:    Lightroom 6 used to crop, adjust colors, contrast, etc.

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 buck is definitely a magnificent fellow but as presented, the nature story is weak.  The iag is essentially a “here I am” shot. 

Pictorially, the composition works.  I do not object to the body and legs being cropped out.  The cropping is obviously deliberate and does help the viewer focus on the head and rack.  Pictorially I would have preferred a shallower depth of field so the background tree trunks do not compete with the buck.

Technically, you appear slightly overexposed but this could be due to a difference in the brightness settings of your monitor and my monitor.  Remember to take advantage of the greyscale available in the Nature Study Groups page on the website.  The white on the buck’s neck is definitely washed out but you should be able to bring out the details on your original version.  The attached adjustment recovers some of the detail in this area but had limited pixels to work with.  I also did some brightness adjustment and addition of texture on the buck.

N1, T2, P2, E0, Total 5


Review by Prasad D

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
I would have taken a full image of he 8 pt Buck with the surrounding environment.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The background seems very cluttered.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Should have not cropped the frame.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 5


Review by Larry T

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
To qualify as a valid nature story the image must show animal behavior that is beyond ordinary. In this case you have an image that is just a portrait of the 8 point buck. The animal would have to be doing more than just standing or walking by to receive a higher score.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Over all this is a rather cluttered portrait of a buck. While your camera captured the portrait the settings did little to separate the buck from his background and thus the clutter feeling. A longer lens or a wider aperture would have helped. As you noted you didn’t have your “good” camera with you but in this case you had the best camera available to capture the image. In the end you have an image you would not have had without your trust Sony compact camera.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Your processing techniques are adequate for the image. The image is a bit soft (note the fur in the ears and body) This is probably connected to the slow shutter speed. I do not know what you cropped but as shown the image is quite crowded. I feel you should have left more room in front of the buck to allow him to move into the image. As it is if you had cropped from the right up to the shoulder and made this a vertical image it would have more impact.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Dennis A.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Good nature pic. However, no story that I can detect.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The DOF is good. It looks reasonably sharp, but the whites look blown out, e.g. the neck.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I live next to a state forest, so I have deer walking through my yard all the time. In fact, every winter I have to setup up fencing to protect my shrubs. If I don’t, the deer chew on them making them look like some weird Disney character. So, a pic of a deer, even an 8 point, just standing around does not grab my attention.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 5


Review by Linda C

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Common shot; does not tell story.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Color and sharpness satisfactory. Antlers blend with background of trees. Not enough of deer showing without something else in picture to make interesting.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Average impact; interest of subject commonly seen.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 4


Review by Bogdan B

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Portrait of beautiful animal.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Image is not perfectly sharp, but good enough for such long shutter and large zoom.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
It would be better to leave more space on the left (in front of the animal) instead of capturing it's tail.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Adrian B

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Louise - Not enough of a story here. Its a nice buck, but there is nothing going on.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Your composition or crop doesn't work for you. You could try a portrait, removing the right 1/3 and if you have any taken space in from of the back to the left, that would help. You need space for it to look into.

Also, the trees are distracting for the fine antlers.

You have captured a sharp image - I suggest next time, position the head to the right (not centre) if it's looking left.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
For reasons stated above, its not right for a Nature image, but taking a portrait crop from this will give you a nice capture for your memories.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 4


Review by Suman B.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
lacks nature story value. seems more of a portrait and that too lacks impact

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
need to show the entirety of the animal.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
not separated from its background makes the eyes wonder. also the truncation the animal makes it less attractive.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 4

 


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SEPTEMBER 2019 ROUND

Title:    Heron Flying over Pond
   
Goal:     I tried to capture a great blue heron in flight while carrying a twig to build a nest in a nearby heron rookery. It took me at least 10,000 images over several days to capture this image.
 
Equipment/Source:    Sony a6500 mirrorless APS-C camera with a Sigma F5.6-6.3, 150-600mm superzoom lens mounted on a tripod with a gimbal head.
 
Technique:   I tried to position myself at about the elevation of the tree tops in the rookery, and with the sun at my side, preferably with the bird flying into the sun. (it was not possible to locate myself with the sun at my back). The camera was shot while in burst mode and with the following other settings: 1/4000, F7.1, Equiv focus length=796mm, ISO=1000, Aperture Priority, and Multi-segment metering.

Processing:   
I used Lightroom 6 to crop and adjust coloration, etc.

  

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


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

Review by commentator Rick C.
I feel the nature story is clear and shows a distinctive behavior that most viewers should easily recognize and understand. There is enough value in the behavior show to warrant a nature score of 3 in my opinion.

The timing of your capture is very good and the wing position provides a solid visual element and added information about the subject. It is hard to say with certainty where the point of primary focus is, but I am estimating it is on the body. As it stands, the subject is not critically sharp despite the 1/4000 shutter speed. Some of that may have to do with the aperture used and some with the sensor or the extent of the crop in from the original capture. It can be addressed to an extent by using the Stabilize option on Topaz Sharpen AI or the Shake Reduction feature of Photoshop or Elements, but all result in some edginess in the feather details on the body and underwing. There is also a noticeable contrast halo around the bird, the branch and the tree in the lower right. This is typically associated with over sharpening, but can be introduced by other adjustments that boost local contrast. I am rating the technical quality as a 2

The general framing of the image is reasonable. I wouldn’t mind even more room for the Heron to fly into, but fully appreciate that you are trying to limit the branches intruding in from the lower right. There is a defined blue cast to the overall image. This may be related to how the SONY sensor captures color information, more than anything you did in post processing. It is something to watch for until you know what may be introducing it, but in the meantime, it is something that can be cleaned up easily by using Auto Color in Photoshop or Elements. Note that either will have a tendency to push those bright spots on the upper leg and near the tail to the point of clipping, so use a mask to hold the effect back there. The lack of critical sharpness has a derivative effect on pictorial quality. Coupled with the color cast, I am rating pictorial quality as a 2. I am sending along an adjusted version correcting the color cast and attempting to address the key sharpness issue, though anything I tried at this point did introduce the edginess in the body and wing feathers.

N-3, T-2, P-2 = 7


Review by Larry T

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Capturing a bird in flight is always a thrill and you did well to achieve this capture. The image does demonstrate a valid story line showing the nest building behavior of a Great Blue Heron. I find this to be a solid behavior picture but not an exceptional one.

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

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The camera gear you used and the settings listed were adequate to compete the capture. Unfortunately the image displayed is not completely sharp. This can be easily seen in the enlarged version by looking at the eye of the bird. You will also note that the over all image is a bit soft and the whites on the body of the bird are completely blown (over exposed.). You indicate the light was not optimum for this image and this can be seen in the shadow areas of the bird’s neck and the underside of the wing. I do like the manner in which you handled the background as you have achieved a pleasing effect with the soft trees shown in the background at the bottom of the image.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
When processing this image you had large areas of the bird that were quite dark due to the angle of light that you mention in your write up. You tried to open these shadows and this resulted in introducing the photographic noise found in the shadows. Note the appearance of the underside of the wing. Additionally you greatly over processed this image as can be seen by the clearly visible white line that markes the edges of the bird. You can see this line most clearly on the front of the wing and on the underside of the body. The composition also suffers from the partially shown branch on the right edge of the photo. It would be better if you shot this image about a second earlier so that this branch would not show in the final picture. If the image was completely sharp you may have been able to use some noise reduction to make the underside of the wing look more presentable but since noise reduction softens an image and this is already soft this procedure is not possible.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 5


Review by Andy H

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
The image has a clear, strong story.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I can see nothing wrong with your settings but the image has a few issues. The image is not sharp, colours are not natural and areas lack detail. I’m seeing some oversharpening on the wing edges and noise under the wings.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The image is well composed and some has impact.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Dennis H

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Good capture of flying heron with nesting material

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Your camera settings look good and you've also used a tripod but the bird appears to lack definition and the underside of the wings is grainy with lack of colour.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The image has impact with a nice background.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Natalie M

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
3 points for action and story. Well worth the effort.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The image looks to be generally soft, not sure if this is due to a low res file or ISO noise or something else. One of the members with more tech knowledge will know. There is also a notable halo, worst at the leading edges of the bird.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Composition is good, improved sharpness and processing could improve the shot.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Martin P

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Good strong nature image with the heron obviously nest building

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The overall exposure post processing appears to be ok. However, I am noticing that the bird is not sharp, has noise in the underside and a halo around it where the sky has been darkened. I do wonder if the bird was under exposed and the brightening post processing has reduced the overall quality

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Bird is nicely positioned in the frame, colours of the sky bring a slight interest, but the obvious processing artefacts spoil the image for me

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6


Review by Bruce F

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Very strong nature story as the heron is flying with a stick for nesting building in its beak.

SCORE N (Nature) 3-nature story strong

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Technical execution is where this image fails. It’s just not sharp. Your shutter speed of 1/4000 of sec should have frozen the action of flying with this large of bird. Your autofocusing is off, you didn’t capture a sharp subject. Thus, I would go back and shoot more images and work on your focusing. Maybe your autofocusing settings aren’t correct for flying birds. It’s really a shame because otherwise, this is image has a very strong story and the composition within the frame is excellent.

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

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
As stated above, the composition is very good. However, the pictorial aspects are marred by the lack of technical competence.

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

TOTAL BASIC SCORE 6

 

I am a retired environmental engineer and worked for the US EPA for over 25 years.  For the past seven years my wife and I have lived in a retirement community in Silver Spring, MD, USA.  Upon moving here I took a basic digital photo class and fell in love with photography as a hobby.  After three years I decided to up my game by purchasing my first DSLR , long lenses, etc. and began concentrating on USA wildlife photography, primarily birds.

I now use two 24 megapixel Sony mirrorless cameras (a6000 & a6500); multiple zoom lenses (Sony 18-200; Sigma 18-300 macro, 100-400C & 150-600C); and tripod with gimbal head, etc.  

I shoot only in RAW format and use Windows PCs with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6 and Photoshop Elements 10 for editing and cataloguing approximately 8,000 images.