Study Group 2

Bruce Finocchio

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Title:  Young Lion Cubs Show Sibling Rivalries
Goal:  My goal was to capture lion cubs playing and learning the skills that will help them in adulthood. Captured as best as I could young lion behavior and a decisive moment of peak action during this opportunity in Ngorongoro Crater.  

Equipment / Source:   Canon 7D body, 600 mm f4.0 lens, 1/1600 sec, f5.6, ISO 1000, Aperture Priority, Evaluative Metering, and Raw Capture

Technique:   Handheld from the top of the Land Rover, resting on a bean bag.

Processing:   Raw processing, adding clarity, saturation, and vibrance globally, target noise reduction with Define, and target raw sharpening with Nik software tools. Some mid-tone increased contrast added with a luminosity mask. 

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

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

Review by Commentator Dan C.

This is fun story telling image.  From the standpoint of nature story it is clear to see they are just clubs and have successfully captured the important play between cubs that helps create the pride bonds and hunting skills.

From a pictorial standpoint, the elements are well arranged and you have good separation between the setting and the cubs.

From a technical standpoint the exposure appears to be slightly over.  This is not necessarily due to your camera settings.  The most probable cause here is really a difference in the brightness settings of my monitor and your monitor.  Images can look brighter on my monitor if you adjusted it on a monitor with a darker brightness setting than my monitor.

N2, T3, P2, E0, Total 8
Review by Commentator Rick C.

The iso indicates that the light was likely pretty low and that is probably the source of the warm cast in the image. It looks a little yellow but not to the point of being objectionable. The action is special and truly cat-like in the way siblings interact with one another. Focus, and exposure are handled well in my opinion. It looks like you burned in the edges or applied a mild vignette. If you did, it is to the point of noticeable. If you didn’t it is just my imagination (but you might want to dodge the youngster’s tail in the upper right to keep it from being oddly dark given the flat lighting). You have a super image that should do well

N-3, T-3, P-2, E-1 = 9 (P-2 Just a bit too yellow for me and the apparent darkening of the edges seems to effect one cubs tail.)

Review by Dennis H.
Nice nature story of cubs at play. Good colour and detail on cubs.
Well captured.
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-0, Total-9

Review by Andy H.
Lovely image, well caught. Plenty of story. All technical and Pictorial boxes ticked. Well done.
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-0, Total-9

Review by Fran M.
That the cubs are playing adds to the quality of the subject. Behaviour goes beyond just capturing a record image, and one being antagonist, and the other's response is lovely. If I was to change this image, it would be by cropping closer. I know you have included the tail of the antagonist and the meat that was being chewed, but the interaction does not need those parts of the image to still tell the story.
N-3, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-7

Review by Maria K.
Great expression and focus of the image is on the pick action.
I love sticking tail of the cub.
I am not sure what is in the lower left corner. Maybe this is food and adds story but I am not sure .
Thanks to your good postprocessing it is not distracting a lot.
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-0, Total-9

Review by Bogdan B.
You have caught the action perfectly. The position of the rover towards lions is perfect. You have got both faces. For me bright background is a little bit disturbing. If you Will burn it a little bit, the animals would be better seen.
N-3, T-3, P-2, E-0, total-8


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.

Check out Bruce's nature blog at and his website at