Study Group 2

Andy S. Hayes, ARPS, EFIAP

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Title:   Gannets Stabbs
Goal:    I was out this day in an area called St.Abbs Head on the Northumberland coast of England. It's a great area for various forms of wildlife. My main aim was to photograph a group of Gannets that had been trying to establish its self on an outcrop already colonised by Guillemots.

Equipment / Source:    Canon 1DX MkII
EF 400mm 2.8
2x Extender
Bean bag
1/1250 sec
!SO 1000

Technique:     I lay on a cliff edge about 80m from the exposed outcrop of rock. Having spotted a pair of gannets amount the colony of Guillemots I watched and waited to see what might happen. One or two other Gannets flew around the area and attempted to land, some were successful, some not. This pair appeared to be established and involved in courting displays. This is a very significant event as Gannets have not raised any young in this area. These are large sea birds but appear small in the mass of Guillemots.

Processing:  LRClassic CC. Ive recently discovered the AUTO button in the tone panel and with some minor tweaks its does a very competent job. A little clarity and sharpening was added.

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Swan Encounter

Goal:   While spending some time in the Scottish Borders I looked for otters on the river Tweed in the early mornings. My search for otters was unsuccessful but as we often say its surprising what you encounter by chance.

I came across a few small groups of male mute swans on the river. As I walked back towards the bridge a fight erupted between two of the males. What was unusual was that it lasted for over 10mins and was extremely violent. One swan dominated the other for the duration of the fight and on three occasions tried to drown the weaker swan by grabbing its neck, forcing it underwater and holding it there. I have several images showing this action. I've never seen this nor the intensity of the violence before. A third male skirted around the edge of the incident but didn't get involved. At the end the dominant male chased the weaker one away, neither appeared hurt which is remarkable given the ferocity. The incident resulted in over 800 images! 
Equipment / Source:   Canon 1DX MkII, Canon EF600mm f/4L IS II USM + 1.4x III, ISO 1250, 840MM, f/5.6, 1/1000sec, Hand Held
  This all started off very quickly so I dropped to one knee and supported the camera and lens the best I could. Luckily I had my camera settings for reacting quickly to an otter appearance so the images were sharp. The subject, white, meant that I was a little over exposed but appear to have got away with being able to recover the RAW file.

LRClassic CC. I tried using the AUTO setting and it did a decent job only seeing minor adjustments.

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

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

Review by commentator Rick C.

An excellent capture. The violence of the battle is clearly evident. I didn’t enlarge it to check fine detail but, all of the technical aspects look to be handled well. I don’t see any signs of clipping in the channels on the histogram so you were able to recover the highlights successfully. You might be able to brighten the midtones to bring out some of the detail even better, but if you try that be sure to protect the brightest highlights zones. If you are familiar with Luminosity masking it would be an inverted brights 5 mask. The crop is tight, but I think you can get away with it given the central nature of the action. If you did have a little more room on the sides and bottom I wouldn’t hesitate to add a bit more back in, particularly on the bottom. Definitely an impressive result for what amounts to a handheld shot.

N-3, T-3, P-3, E-1 = 10

Review by Mike P.
Great job! Love the action depicted here. As you indicated in your notes, you also nailed the bright white feathers. Nice sharpness throughout.
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-0, Total-9

Review by Hattie S.
Absolutely worthy of 800 images taken for this! Wow, what a capture and story telling from both the image and your description. I feel like I'm right there with you.
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-1, Total-10

Review by Fran M.
WOW! Fantastic shot. Great story, well handled technically, good crop (up close and personal) and great contrast with the bright swans against the dark background. Well done. It would be 10 except that you put a watermark on your shot. That's a no-no.
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-0, total-9

Review by Les L.
Great action nature photo. The image has energy , drama and a strong story. The water spray adds to the story. However, I would like to see the face of the second swan. I always prefer to see the subjects off center and in this case I would suggest slightly cropping the right side, where the water spray is less dynamic, to create a stronger picture.
N-3, T-2, P-3, E-1, Total-9

Review by Ken W.
Good nature story with the fighting swans. Good composition, good sharpness especially handholding a 600mm lens. Good water droplets which shows the intensity of the fight. A small portion of the swans was slightly overexposed. Excellent photo.
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-0, total-9

Review by Butch S.
This is one of the best images shown in Study Group 2. Then nature value is high for obvious reasons. Technical merit is high. Similarly, The Pictorial merit is high as the image is attractive and well done in showing a scene not always seen by the average person.

Your concern about weight can be laid to rest in my mind. I do a lot of white birds and you have found the white sweet spot.

Exceptional enough for the extra point.
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-1, total-10



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.