Nature Study Group 2

Bogdan Bricelj, GMPSA, EFIAP/p (A)

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Title:   Swans in Love 2

Goal:   Spring behavior of birds

Equipment/Source:     Nikon P950 at 500 mm on built in lens, shutter priority 1/1000, F6,3, ISO 100, handheld.

Early in the morning on a peaceful lake you can find pairs of swans together

Processing:    crop, contrast improvement with levels and curves in Photoshop Elements

Score this image: NO

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

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

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Title:  Underwater Slug 2

Goal:   Underwater life.

Equipment/Source:   Panasonic TZ-35 at 50 mm on built in lens with macro, manual 1/160s, F5.6, ISO 100, handheld.

Technique:   Here is one more of my problematic photos, for which I ask for advice.

I like these small colorful underwater slugs very much, but judges seems not. What can I improve to get the third acceptance?

Processing:   crop, selective dodge, contrast improvement with curves, selective burn in Photoshop Elements, Selective sharpening in Nik.

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 Jan L.

Nature Story:

For me, this would be a stronger nature story if we could see more of the slug’s natural habitat.  As it is, this is almost a slug floating in a field of black.  I admit that I am not very familiar with these animals, so in this image I can’t tell what is the head or what is the tail, and whether is right-side up or up-side down.

Technical Quality:

I don’t do underwater photography, so what I am about to suggest may not be possible – show more of the environment.  Do not make it so dark.  The light on the slug is lovely, but the animal is not truly sharp.

Pictorial Quality:

As I have said above, at the speed of judging in international competitions, this comes across as a bright “something” in a field of black.  It is just not very visually interesting.

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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: I hear you, and I can see your issue.
First of all, I've no underwater experience, so here I have all just a view from common person.

1) This image took me a while to grasp the content, figure out the subject, then to observe and see what I should be seeing. So the subject of unfamiliar territory/scope, will work to your disadvantage. On that, I try to flip and turn the image, vertical, horizontal, etc. to see if it'd might make more perceptive toward something people familiar thing.

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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: just looking for comment, no score
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: try turn, flip, anything to present this slug in a more familiar acceptable view. When I tried it, found flip vertical, shown as a bug/caterpillar, might be helpful ?

 My guess, what's around the slug, colorful, what's that? are you leave it in the image to show the slug environment, or extra details to enhance the image? if not, then it's more distraction to the main subject.

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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Thank you for your thoughts behind the image.  I also enjoy seeing such things under water, but they are difficult to photograph in such a way as to tell the story you see with your eyes.  Looking back, I suspect that some of my long-ago scuba images would not hold up in the division today as it tends to be judged.  This is basically a portrait of a creature that most people find difficult to relate to.  Add the challenges of lighting and all you have for story is an underwater creature being underwater.  Even that is not immediately obvious to the photo judge who is trying to get through 1000 images, sees this image and has no idea what's going on.
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Good DOF, the slug appears reasonably sharp throughout.  The lighting is a bit stark from one side, hitting part of the coral base and creating some hot spots.  
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Your composition is the best you could do with the subject at hand.  I love the colors, and the slug is very appealing artistically.  I like the "S" curve its body forms.  Still, though it ticks off a lot of boxes in a description of a good image, if I were a judge it would not score very high simply because I don't feel a relationship with the subject.

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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: I think, maybe, you need to show more of the enviroment.  The slug is pretty and I can tell it is in the water but I would like to see more of the environment around it.
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: I see a little bit of noise in the image that could be distracting.  I think the composition is good.
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: The rock formation ends before the slug does.  Maybe lighten the shadows so I can see what the slug is
moving around on.

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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Entering and gaining acceptances and awards requires an exceptional photo
If this photo is being entered in a nature category the first obstacle you must over come is the quality of the story.  Successful Nature images require a strong, clear and easily understood story line.  The judge will look for this storyline and if it is not understood the image will be quickly passed over.  Speaking from experience, I would say this is the first thing you must concentrate on.  I will note that even in your comments you do not mention or describe a story line.  If the story line is not strong then the adding an emotional feeling or reaction may move the judge and viewer. Remember this is visual communication. No words. You need to get the
viewer to have the response you are looking for.  You are the photographer---and in this case the expert on slugs.  You have to find a way to connect to the viewer.

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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Judges will look for technical excellence. Specifically the way in which you handle your gear.
Sharpness, exposure, DoF, color harmony and the elimination of any distracting factors.  In this image I would reduce some the void at the bottom.  Perhaps trying to connect the subject to the environment in a way the viewer can understand may help. To me the subject seems  sharp and colorful. I like the positioning within the frame (the diagonal thrust look nice)  perhaps an upward angle would be more positive.

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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: The concept of personification may help you as well.  Judges are not supposed to apply human qualities and emotions to creatures, but they are human and this concept of personification in wired into our minds.  IF what I think is an eye and a mouth are actually present can they be positioned in a manner to aid this connection to the viewer?

Judges look for originality.  I feel you have this concept working for you since I have not seen a slug entered in an exhibition that I can recall.  You also have to understand that you are competing against known subjects.  If judges see enough images of quality that they recognize and understand they may not move your image forward.  You should understand the following:
In opening round of an exhibition most often the judges are working on a 5 point scale.  There are generally three judges.  A total score of 10, 11, or 12 is needed to move the image to the award round.  So your image has to impress at least 2 of the three judges that it is worthy of an award.  If two of the judges are merely indifferent and award a score of 3 the image will not advance and will die a death by three’s.

Personally, I like the image for its originality, but for me, the lack of a story line would cause be to give it a 3 since the story line is expected to carry the greatest weight.

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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: The lighting on this slug and its environment is good. It shows it in action. Well done
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: The highlights in the background is slightly distracting especially the orange top let. 
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Composition wise I like the image. The s curve and Framing is good

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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: I love the vibrant colors of the slug, and will search these out next time I dive, thanks to your inspiration. The nature story is a challenge in a situation like this because the slug isn't doing anything, as far as I can tell. I understand the nature story should show behavior like eating, mating, defensive, etc. While this is beautiful, it does not tell me anything about what a slug does.
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: The colors are vibrant and even luminescent, but the focus is soft. Taking a tack sharp picture underwater is truly challenging at an entirely different level. I think the dark background sets off the brilliant colors nicely in this picture, but that too is a little confusing for me. This may illustrate how much these creatures seem to glow in the darkness.
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: I like your composition. It is nicely cropped and the dark background, as mentioned above, set it out from the surroundings.I think the lighting is excellent, though perhaps confusing as noted above

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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: This is a nature photo.
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: There is some noise in the tentacle tips and also lacking a little sharpness, maybe because of taking the photo in low light, however we need to note that ISO is low i.e., 100.
A personal choice would have been to blur to go either one way 
         1. Make the background completely dark.
          2. Or put some detail in the background.
This picture suggest a background but does not make statement.
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: I like the blue color, but the background is not completely dark it suggests some detail, but we are not able to see them because of high contrasty nature of the photo.


Bogdan Bricelj was born in the year 1958 in town Jesenice, Slovenia. He graduated at Faculty of electrical engineering in Ljubljana. He was working for 9 years in steel factory as service engineer. Since the year 1990 He’s manager and co-owner of a computer company.

He was learning the art of photography and developing of black and white photos in the photo school in primary school. After that he passed over to slides. In 1973 his first slide was accepted on a state exhibition. More than thirty years he had an ordinary Praktica without any electronics on all his journeys. 

He bought his first digital camera in the year 2004. All these years he uses compact cameras with large zoom. In his opinion photographer is more important then the camera like driver is more important than the car. Although digital photography allows a lot of possibilities of photo modifying, his photos are as much as possible pure representation of the moments captured. He prefers to make photos of nature: animals, flowers and landscape. He also likes macro and underwater photography. His other preferred theme is sports, especially outdoor sports like skiing, ski jumping, kayak and swimming. Mostly he goes photographing together with his wife Danila. 

In the year 2005 he joined to the photographic club Fotografsko drustvo Jesenice. He’s sending his photos to many exhibitions worldwide. Until the end of the year 2018 he has got 226 awards. Until now he has made 29 exhibitions of his own. In the year 2018 he has got title EFIAP/p and in 2019 GMPSA as the first Slovenian photographer. 

He was the president of photographic club since 2009 to 2017. In these years the club was first or second most successful club in Slovenia.

His photographs were published in many Slovenian and foreign books, magazines and other publications. He has written also four articles for PSA Journal. He’s especially proud, that also National Geographic has published his photos.