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MAY 2021 ROUND
Title: A Female Long-tailed Weasel In Mid Air Fully Extended
Goal: To Capture The Behavior Of Long-tailed Weasels.
As a reminder, my philosophy for nature photography is to be “open to everything and attached to nothing”. This is one of Wayne Dyer’s 10 Tips for Success and Inner Peace. Thus, I try never to pass up an opportunity to make a great nature photo. Even with common species, as my Mallard image from a last month demonstrated.
Here while I was at Stow Lake in San Francisco (see last month’s image location), photographing the Great Blue Herons nesting, I met another nature photographer from Petaluma in the North Bay. An area I have rarely explored. He told me about this location for Long-tailed Weasels. This brings up a sensitive topic in the Bay Area, sharing great wildlife photography locations. There is a contingent of nature and bird photographers in the South Bay and Southern East Bay that swarms good and great locations as well as rare bird sightings. Once one member post an image of a new species or a new location on social media, they all come, sometimes over fifty individuals. What is a problem is that they chase the birds or mammals, pressuring them, stressing them. Their goal above all else is to get the “shot”, with little regard for the animal they photograph. They subscribe to the “Bird Lists”, and thus, there is a lot of tension between the birding community and the bird photographers in the Bay Area. The birders have had many posts this year about the conduct of this group. Sharing locations is a big decision, because once it goes past a group of friends, then, the targeted species could be put in harm's way. Thus, I have a decision to make. I will not include the location on my image postings. I will give the location to two of my best friends and request they not share the location. Swear them to secrecy. 😊
Some local North Bay photographers have some underlying resentment of outside photographers and request that postings don’t contain location information. They don’t want these rare species endangered, and their beloved weasels threatened. You can’t fault them.
Anyway, I bring this issue up for awareness and the issues that it brings up. The actions of some nature photographers give the rest of us who try to act ethically, a bad name and reputation. Not sure how we go about educating these selfish photographers. With a lot of new people entering photography, many take shortcuts and have little concern in their pursuit to become famous and well-known.
Again, the Canon R5 and its animal eye-tracking focusing decisively paid off here. These weasels move so fast, that with traditional autofocusing it’s almost impossible to capture images like this.
Equipment / Source: Canon Camera body R5, 600 mm f4.0 IS lens, with a 1.4 III teleconverter, RF to EF adaptor, at 1/1600 sec, f8.0, at 2500 ISO, Aperture priority, Evaluative Metering. Tripod Gitzo 1325 G and a Wimberley Gimbal Tripod Head. Sat in a chair to get an eye-level view.
Technique: Using a 600 mm lens with a 1.4x III teleconverter, panning and tracking the animals as they leap and move about in a frenetic manner. It is kind of like playing “wack a mole”. Using the new Canon R5 Animal Eye-tracking focus. Everything happens so fast, I never saw the actual moment of focus in the viewfinder. It was not until I got home and the next day when reviewing the images that I realized I had caught the weasel in mid-air.
Processing: Cropped the image and choose the 9 x 16 format to empathize the direction of movement and create a better flow for the subject. Applied selective noise reduction and sharpening using Topaz AI DeNoise and Topaz AI Sharpening. I first select the weasel and use this mask on both the denoise and sharpen layers in photoshop. I still believe that Topaz DeNoise creates an airbrush effect with loss of contrast and sharpness with its DeNosie software, even though the newest version has sharpening AI built-in its computations, especially when using it for higher ISO settings. I also applied a mid-tone contrast enhancement using the RGB Channel--method I learned long ago. I also used a new color profile and not the standard "Adobe Color” profile in ACR. See Glen Bartley’s video below for color problems with the new mirrorless Canon cameras and Adobe. The profile I used can be found here.
I am wondering what others think about Canon and Adobe processing with the R5 and R6.
Score this image: YES
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 technical quality is excellent. Interestingly I have a 4K monitor and a 2K monitor with the 4K set to 2560 x 1440 to match the 2K. On the 4K the eye looks just a tad soft but on the 2K it shows as absolutely tack sharp. Perhaps a good lesson not to try to interpret critical detail on a monitor not set to its native resolution. The technical rating is 3.
I think your basic decision to go 16 x 9 is solid. One can debate whether a little of the left gives a better sense of the subject being out of the center, but I see no issues with the composition as is personally. The image has solid impact and the pull of the weasel is strong enough that I do not get hung up in the out of focus foreground area. The pictorial rating is 3.
N-3, T-3, P-3 = 9
This Review is written by: Rick D.
This Review is written by: Adrian B
This Review is written by: Nirmalya B.
This Review is written by: LC B.
This Review is written by: Suman B.
APRIL 2021 ROUND
Title: A Flying Male Mallard Duck With Wing Tip Touching The Water
Goal: To Capture A Mallard Duck In Flight
One would expect few wildlife opportunities in the middle of San Francisco. Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park has been a goldmine. While waiting for some action from the nesting Great Blue Herons and a pair of Red-tailed Hawks, I photographed this Mallard Duck flying out of Stow Lake.
My philosophy for nature photography is to be “open to everything and attached to nothing”. This is one of Wayne Dyer’s 10 Tips for Success and Inner Peace. Thus, I try never to pass up an opportunity to make a great nature photo.
This a great bird photograph location, and I am grateful to the person who told me about this location.
The Canon R5 and its animal eye-tracking focusing decisively paid off here.
Equipment / Source: Canon Camera body R5, 600 mm f4.0 IS lens, with a 1.4 III teleconverter, RF to EF adaptor, at 1/2000 sec, f8.0, at 2500 ISO, Aperture priority, Evaluative Metering. Tripod Gitzo 1325 G and a Wimberley Gimbal Tripod Head.
Technique: Using a 600 mm lens with a 1.4 teleconverter from the shoreline of a lake. Then, tracking the flying Mallard Duck with the Wimberley Tripod as the Mallard flew low just above the water while shooting a burst mode to capture the best and decisive moments. Using the new Animal Eye focusing included in the incredible R5 camera body.
Processing: Cropped the image and choose the 9 x 16 format to empathize the direction of flight and create a better flow for the subject. Applied selective noise reduction and sharpening using Nik tools, Dfine, and Nik Sharpening Pro 3. Used small Viveza control points and the adjustment brush tool in Camera Raw to tone down the highlight spots in the water. I also applied a mid-tone contrast enhancement using the RGB Channel--method I learned long ago. Besides, I applied a saturation layer to enhance the colors a small amount.
Score this image: YES
Comments/Scores (N,T,P,E, Total)Critique Image (only members of Study Group Two may critique this image)
Review by commentator Tom S.
Technically, this image is well done. Good exposure and very sharp but I question the color of the feet. I know they are orange but they seem a little too saturated. Maybe you shouldn’t have made that last saturation tweak, but it still earns a high technical score. T3
The wing tip touching the water adds interest, and it is flying to the left with plenty of room to move. Good. The bright reflections in the water are not distracting. The wings in a down position shows off the blue. P3
N2, T3, P3, E0 = 8
This Review is written by: Haru N.
This Review is written by: Dennis H
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong
TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure
PICTORIAL SCORE 3-Excellent composition and impact
TOTAL SCORE 8
This Review is written by: Rich F
This Review is written by: Susan N.
This Review is written by: Dave F.
This Review is written by: Louis P
I am a wildlife, nature, and scenic photographer. I now live in San Mateo, after spending most of my adult life in Millbrae. I previously worked full-time for Applied Biosystems and Life Technologies as a senior business analyst. I left this position a few years ago to concentrate on my true passion of nature photography. My Dad was a deer hunter and bought some property in Monterey County, so he could have a place of his own to go deer hunting. We have owned this property since 1946. I grew up spending my summers down there, following in my father's footsteps, hunting quail, dove, and black tailed deer--using a b-b gun, graduating up to a powerful hunting rifle. When I was eighteen I had to kill a black-tailed buck up close shooting him in the neck, since my first shot from afar had only wounded him. I saw death up close and personal, deciding from that moment on I didn't not want to be part of death, but to cherish life instead.
My friends and I do a lot of bird photography at my ranch in rural Monterey County, using photo blinds extensively; and recently we have built a few permanent ponds to attract wildlife.
I was a Minolta user, but switched to Canon in 2001. I used to shoot extensively with slide film; now I strictly use digital camera bodies, specifically the Canon 7D and 40D bodies, previously the Canon D1 Mark II and as backup the Canon 20D. I primarily use RAW capture, and process the images in Photoshop. I recently upgraded to CS5, and also have many external hard drives to store my raw files.