Study Group 2


Andrew Hayes, PPSA, ARPS, EFIAP/s, DPAGB· - (C)

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NOVEMBER 2020 ROUND
Title:   Close to Capture
 
  
Goal:     This day I was out looking for a large group of cheetah but came across Malika, who was sadly drowned while crossing the Talek river two years ago, and her two 18 month old cubs. I wanted to get some hunting action and was rewarded by waiting a couple of hours with the three sleeping under a bush in the wet overcast conditions. Experience told me that they would hunt it was just a matter of waiting to see when.
    
Equipment / Source:    Canon 1DX MkII
EF 200-400 f/f IS USM
ISO 1600
400mm
f/8
1/1000 sec
Hand held
 
Technique: 
  I waited with the three of them while they slept under a bush sheltering from the wind and rain. Eventually they moved out and lay on a termite mound surveying the area ahead them. I lost sight of Malika and the two cubs waited by my landrover. I then spotted Malika coming towards me for couple of hundred meters away. I realised that she had a young tommy in her mouth. At first I thought she was bringing it back for the cubs toeat. The tommy was still alive and Malika had caught it to bring it to the cubs to teach them how to capture the tommy and eventually kill it. The two cubs practised for an hour and a half before they finally brought it to an end. A dilemma, I wanted them to kill the Tommy and to stop tormenting it but also, as a photographer, wanted the images.

Processing:   
 LRCC
Cropped with some exposure and sharpening adjustments
 
Score this image: NO

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

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

Review by commentator Rick C.
The nature story is clear and strong. Story value is a 3 for me.

Your description of the conditions suggests the lighting was flat and the image bears that out. If you want to retain that feel the tonality is fine. Otherwise I feel you have some room to bring up the Midtones to improve impact. Primary sharpness is good on the Tommy and the back Cheetah’s head. The near Cheetah’s head is very slightly softer, but that would easily be addressed with an adjustment brush on just the head and a slight boost to local sharpening and / or Texture. The technical rating for me is a marginal 3. I do think boosting the Midtones helps a fair amount.

The composition is tight. Likely too tight for some. The Tommy has little room in front despite the obvious face pace of the action. I do feel the crop into the Cheetahs is defined enough to be clearly intentional and so fine from that perspective. For me, the image balances well enough that I feel a 3 is warranted, but I wouldn’t be surprised by opinions that there is not enough room on the right.


This Review is written by: Kathleen C.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
What an amazing experience for you to capture this teaching moment! Witnessing the mother bringing the tommy to help them learn hunting skills is so interesting. Then catching this where they are close to capturing it makes an awesome nature story!

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Your image catches the animals in motion as they are about to capture the little tommy. Sharp details of the bristled fun and the tommy's expression all add to the story. Exposure and colors are good.

PICTORI AL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Your photo definitely tells a story. I feel sorry for the little tommy running for his life but that is nature. I wonder if you took any photos showing the whole bodies of the cheetahs?  


This Review is written by: Rick D.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Hello Andrew. Your previous knowledge of these animals and patience really scored well for you. You met your goal.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Your photographer’s IQ is evident. Well done

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
This is certainly an action shot! And it surely displays the reality of nature. As photographers who agree to review and comment on the work of others, I believe we have a duty to overlook our built-in biases and judge according to the quality of the ima ge. I feel that this image would score high. It will be interesting to read the reviews of the other members.


This Review is written by: Bruce F

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Tremendous nature story, very strong, showing the predator-prey dynamic with the half-grown cheetahs chasing the very young Thompson Gazelle. A super story showing how young cheetahs learn to kill. I think the open mouth of the gazelle adds possibly of bleating and calling out for its life adding an extra element that makes this image nature story especially powerful. Your patience was rewarded. “Good things come to those who wait”, especially true for certain types of nature photography. Mos t photog raphers in Africa when nothing is happening jump from one subject to the next and don’t take time for action to develop. I praise and commend your decision to wait.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I think your shutter speed was adequate since the cheetah’s faces are fairly sharp, and the gazelle's body is also sharp enough. There is some motion blur in the cheetah and gazelle’s bodies. With your camera the Canon 1DX Mark II, and assessing the diffused light of a rainy cloudy day, I would have considered using ISO 2000 or 2500, in order, to have a shutter speed of 1/2000 second or greater. In this situation, the higher the shutter speed the better, to freeze the action. With this camera body, you certainly had this option available. I would also work on the eyes of the one cheetah and the gazelle, adding light, saturation, and contrast. This would add more impact and draw the viewer to their eyes.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IM AGE
Aesthetically, does a higher shutter speed to free the action, produce a more pleasing image? Or is some blur to show motion add to the artistic value of an image? Another question is how much blur and sharpness is acceptable? I think it depends; it a subjective question. Also, how much of the cheetahs' bodies do you show? Is where you cropped it the best place, is the confusion of the legs a minor distraction? If you had their whole bodies would this have been better? A lot of questions to consider. I think you need to try different crops and compare them, and see what are the visual and emotional effects. I do like the 16 x 9 frame choice; it adds and emphasizes a lot to the flow from the cheetah to the gazelle running for its life. Overall, a strong impactful nature image.


This Review is written by: Robert D

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Great action nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Good under the circumstances. Maybe a little more contrast and exposure

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I wish you could have been able to include more of the cheetahs bodies


This Review is written by: Prasad D

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Excellent image of the Cheetah Cubs approaching their prey. The life threat in the eyes of the Tommy is so visible.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Excellent capture. Lovely story telling image. The moment is just awesome.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The Tommy seems to realize his end is near and that is seen in his eyes. Excellent composition. 


This Review is written by: Dave F.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Good interaction and interesting nature story

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Good exposure and stop action and colors look good

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Interesting photo – you can tell the cheetahs were not at a full run and you convey the story well.  







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OCTOBER 2020 ROUND
Title:    Rejoining the family
   
Goal:     This was captured on a late afternoon journey back to camp in Mara.My goal was simple, to capture some of the interaction between the two, yes there are two, cubs and the mother as the greeted each other. An interesting thing is that these to cubs eventually settled down and started to suckle from the mother.
 
Equipment / Source:   1 DX MkII
EF 200-400 f/4 IS USM
HANDHELD
ISO 400
400mm
f/7.1
1/2500sec
Not sure why my speed was so high but suspect I was photographing some previous action and hadn't reset my settings. Always check your settings after a shoot.

Technique:    Positioned the vehicle close by with the sun on the subject and not too much shadow. Chose f/7.1 for the depth of field given my proximity to the subjects and their moving about. Waited for some interaction and fired off some high speed shots in short bursts. Stayed for about 20 mins, mother and cubs quite relaxed.

Processing:    LrC Auto tone with some tweaks.
A bit of texture, clarity and dehaze.
took off some vibrance and saturation.
A little masked sharpening.

Score this image: NO

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

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

Review by commentator Tom S.
Nice interaction between the mother and cubs. Too bad we are looking at the back of the head of one cub and the other cub is mostly hidden. The action of the mother licking the cub makes the nature story strong.

Pictorially, it would be much better if we could see more of the cubs faces and the one cub wasn’t sitting on the other.

The exposure, sharpness, and color are all good.


Review by Rich F

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Excellent story of the interaction between cubs and the mother. One cub is barely visible, the head of the other one is not visible that does not matter. The store is real and strong.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
exposure and colors are good. Not over processed. My only objections is that the image you submitted is well beyond the size standard. this make is hard for me to show the image without making font too small to enter comments.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Excellent picture.tells the s tory wel l. I like the position of the lioness facing left.


Review by Haru N.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
You captured the right moment at right timing.
I am sorry to say that I could not recognize 2 cubs from the image at first glance without reading the comments.
But this image supports great nature story.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
As you intended, the image has adequate sharpness (even captured the bugs clearly) with blurred background, so my eyes are guided to the main subject naturally. Also lighting is good. So technically I see it perfect.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
It is pictorially beautiful and fine image, however, I feel "Wow" factor is missing. Mother is closing her eyes, tongue is half shown, and cubs face is not shown.
Also cropping too tight in my eye. 


Review by Tom K

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
I feel this is a strong nature story with the interaction of the cubs and mother.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Could have traded off less shutter speed for smaller ISO, but you know that. Good focus and exposure.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I like that the background is out of focus which minimizes the background distraction. I'd try a vertical crop with the emphasis on the mother's face and the single cub.  


Review by Louis P

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
excellent nature story, great catch

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
very good in most key parts of image, bot the more I studied it, the more I became distracted by blown out white areas on mother;

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
quite impactful, but also, wished mother's or cub's eyes had been open


Review by Dennis H

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Good nature story with female and suckling cubs.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Nice detail and colour on lions, eyes not visible.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Image has impact. A pity foreground cubs face not visible, L/H cubs face partially obscured.


Review by Dave F.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Nice photo showing mom grooming one of the cubs.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
image appears sharp and the flies are distinct. Shutter speed is igh but did not take

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Wish I could see more of the cubs faces and that interaction was maybe a few feet to the right


Review by Susan N.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Nice family scene. Good animal interactions.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
In focus and nicely exposed. Hard to see the 2nd cub, and i missed it until i read your story and then looked again. Can't really see the faces on the cubs. Nice detail in mother's tongue

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Too desaturated for my taste. would like to see a bit more color. Also would like to see faces on the cubs. Would have been great to capture the scene of the cubs nursing.



Biography

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. I am a member of Brechin Photographic Society. (Est 1888), Edinburgh Photographic Society, a Scottish Photographic Federation Judge & Speaker and PSA Scottish Liaison Officer and Membership Vice President of PSA. Much of my photography was aviation photography but about 15 years ago I returned to Wildlife photography, mostly in Scotland, but with annual trips to Kenya and India.