Study Group 2

Andy S. Hayes, ARPS, EFIAP

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   African Fish Eagle Swoop

Goal:   I return to Lake Naivasha every year for a couple of days to photograph these eagles and other birds from a boat. There is a small window for getting the best from these birds. Once the sun is up and the shadows are cast it makes the exposure difficult. So many times I've managed good shots but there has been a shadow across the white neck.

On this occasion the birds were very obliging and I managed to get numerous shots with the bird moving low towards the sun.
The birds were reluctant due to the fact that many of them had been captured and ringed two weeks before my visit.
Equipment / Source:    Canon 1 DXMkII, Canon 200 - 400 f/4 L IS USM 1.4x ext, Monopod, ISO 1000, 243mm, f/6.3, 1/2500sec, Shooting RAW, Manual, AWB
AF Point selection 5, AI Servo, High Speed Continuous, Evaluative Metering, Case 1 with some mods.
Travel out into the lake before sunrise to locate pairs of birds. Position the boat to put the sun light parallel with the boat. As the sun rises whistle the birds to attract their attention and show them the fish. Throw the fish away from the boat to the side I want them to come. Once the bird makes it move position myself and start to track the bird. Depending on the birds direction start to take images when turning and approaching the fish. Follow through after capturing the fish. Move on to the next pair.

LR CLASSIC CC Exposure, reduced highlights' little presence, sharpening and dehire

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

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Title: Final moments
Goal: This Kenya trip i wanted to get more action shots and I was not disappointed. This action started some hours before and several miles away. We worked hard to position ourselves in the right spot and were lucky that there were only two other vehicles. The five cheetah boys had given us the slip a couple of times and we had to play catch up. As we drew up close to a large herd of wildebeest one of the cheetahs shot across in front of us. I raised my camera and locked onto the cheetah and saw it was heading for a juvenile about 50m away. Slowly the next three cheetahs joined in as they saw what was going on. The final cheetah came in once the prey was down and grab it by the throat. 26 secs and 81 frames later it was all over.

Equipment / Source:   Canon 1DMkII, 200-400 f/4 1.4x, Handheld
ISO 1000, 560mm, f/7.1, 1/500 sec

Technique:   I waited until one of the cheetahs started to head for a wildebeest and locked onto him. I fired off bursts to try to prevent filling the buffer and missing an important part of the action.

Processing:    LR Classic CC, Crop, Highlights, Clarity, Vibrance, Sharpening, Dehaze

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

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

Review by Commentator Dan C.

Another dynamic image with a strong story.  That sky is a killer but your story is so strong I can overlook that particular problem.

Your panel was a good decision that let you get rid of a lot of the offending sky.  I think you would better focus on the take down if you also cropped out the group of wildebeest on the right.  Their separation from the action also separates the viewer from the action.  A secondary benefit would be the elimination of more of the bald sky.

N2, T3, P2, E1, Total 8

Review by Suman B.
this is the classic example where an action makes all the differences. good zone focussing to me. the spectators are adding value to this nature story by their presence. technically white clipping on the top does look distracting to me. pictorially if right corner side beasts are cropped off I think the picture would be more balanced. I would have loved to see this story up, close and personal level. 
N-3, T-3, P-2, E-0, Total-8

Review by Dennis H.
Great action story of young wildebeest capture by cheetahs.
I feel the image would look stronger by cropping wildebeest from right hand side. Well captured.
N-3, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-7

Review by Maria K-L
This is great action.
I would prefer to see all animals in focus or those in the background more blurred.
>From your lens I see you could use f5.6.
With f5.6 you would get more speed (beneficial in this situation) and more blurred animals in the background.
Another solution is a tighter crop just for the action itself.
N-3, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-7

Review by Bogdan B.
You have caught a perfect action. For me the crop is much much too wide. I would cut at the middle and leave just the left side. All unsharp animals on the right are surplus. The sky is white and not interesting. Colors should be more saturated. 
N-3, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-7

Review by Bruce F.
Strong image with a compelling nature story. I like the expression of the young wildebeest. You can really see the fear and fight for its life. This adds a lot to the compelling story. The cheetah heads are mostly obscure. I don’t think you need the wildebeest on the right side, they are watching like the one in the middle and those on the left. Being on the edge of the frame I think they are a distraction. The white sky is unfortunate, but a minor point. Yet I think I would crop some off, to get in a little closer for more drama and impact. 
N-3, T-3, P-2, E-0, Total-8


I was born in Prestwick, Scotland and travelled to many parts of the world with my father who was in the Royal Air Force. Now living in historic village of Fettercairn in Kincardineshire, Scotland with my wife Hilary and 'Smokey' the cat. Semi retired construction industry owner and business consultant. Grampian representative of the Royal Photographic Society, member of Brechin Photographic Society. (Est 1888), Dundee Photographic Society and a Scottish Photographic Federation Judge. Much of my photography was aviation photography but about 10 years ago I returned to Wildlife photography, mostly in Scotland, but with trips to Kenya and India.