Nature Study Group 2


Bruce Finocchio (A)

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JANUARY 2022 ROUND

Title:   Female Allen's And Anna's Hummingbird Face Off Over A Food Source

Goal:   My goal was to capture some type of interaction between hummingbirds. This moment happened so fast. I don’t believe that I would have caught it without the animal eye-tracking auto-focusing of the Canon R5. The key was to be pre-focused at the right spot next to the grevillea blossom, and the shooting off a burst at 20 frames per second and captured the exact moment when they faced off. I love this because it’s a duel and dominance between two different species of hummingbirds, especially females. I think because we were shooting late in the season, where the males have already mated, were less likely to engage in this behavior, mostly because the male Allen’s hummingbirds were already moving south to their wintering areas, in Southern and Baja California.

Equipment / Source:    
Canon r5 camera body, 600 mm f4.0 IS lens, with a 1.4x Teleconverter III, at 1/2500 of sec, f7.1, at ISO 2500, taken with Aperture Priority Settings, and Evaluative Metering. Using the Canon R5 animal eye-tracking auto-focus mode.

Technique:    Lens on a 1325 G Gitzo Tripod, with a Wimberley Tripod Head II

Processing:   
I used Topaz
Sharpening on a layer, just on the hummingbirds. I also reduce the contrast of the blossom and the background. Taken mid-morning, the light on the blossom and the background were a bit harsh, at least for my tastes. Used some Viveza control points to brighten the faces of the hummingbirds.

Score this image: YES

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

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




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DECEMBER 2021 ROUND
Title: Female Northern Flicker Takes A Fecal Sac Out Of The Nest Cavity
 
Goal:  My goal was to capture feeding and nesting activities around the Northern Flicker nest cavity in an old and large dead Ponderosa Pine. I have photographed at this location in Southern Oregon now five times; it is a special place for photographing birds. I was shown this nesting cavity on my first trip there in 2010, and always when I am there, I check to see what is nesting in this cavity. The first time Lewis Woodpeckers were nesting here, all the other previous times, including my most recent visit, the nest cavity was occupied by Northern Flickers. In general, it is a morning photo shoot, and I place my blind on the southeast side to capitalize on the low summer morning light. The more I move to the 90-degree side, the more background and less tree trunk I show in my images. Therefore, I try to vary the angle of view, overall the 45-degree angle to the subject works well.
As a disclaimer to everyone, I am aware of the character limit in the title for PSA competitions. I don’t compete in these competitions, only ones at my camera club where the nature title letter limit is greater.

Equipment / Source:    Canon R5 body, EF600 mm f4.0 IS lens with 1.4x III teleconverter, RF Adaptor, 1/4000 of a second, f8, ISO 2000, Aperture Priority, Evaluative Metering. Animal-eye tracking focus method with this function set to the back * button. 

Technique:   Lens on a Gitzo 1325 tripod with a Wimberley II Tripod Head. Sitting in a portable Ameristep Doghouse Blind, intentionally placed at a 45-degree angle from the nest cavity.

Processing:  
I boosted the mid-tone values using the RGB channel; a simple photoshop technique I learned long ago. I also used Viveza to even out some light areas in the background. I used Topaz DeNoise and Sharpen, versions from this summer. I also cropped some and selected the 16 x 9 framing to emphasize the motion of flight and to decrease the amount of tree trunk contained in the final image.

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 story with the Flicker leaving the nest hole with the fecal sac is solid. Nature story rating is a 3 for me.

Core technical quality is excellent. The sole nit I find is that the upper bill appears slightly soft (possible motion blur or the noise reduction ran into the bill) and is getting very close to a tonal merger with the background. I’m still rating technical quality as a 3, but that nit will knock off the potential E point.

Framing is effective from my perspective. Some may like a little more room on the left and below or a trim on the right, but I feel you found a good balance. The pictorial rating for me is a 3.

N-3, T-3, P-3 = 9


PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Dandridge, Rick
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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Hi, Bruce. A truly excellent photograph! Your diligence in planning and executing this event really paid royally for you! This is a wall hanging image with a strong nature story!
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Your commentary of your gear, settings and technique is first rate and very educational for your fellow photographers.
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: This photograph needs no extensive break down by me. It hits every photographic button head on! Sharp focus, frozen action, color, texture, background-have I forgotten anything! And the angle of the tree adds interest. My hot spot in photography is impact and it is here in abundance! Exceptional point and a perfect 10! Well done, sir!
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NATURE SCORE: 3 - Nature story strong
TECHNICAL SCORE: 3 - Excellent exposure, color balance and sharpness
PICTORIAL SCORE: 3 - Excellent composition and impact
Extra Point awarded: 1 - Exceptional
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Total score: 10

PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Delany, Nick
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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Nature story is that of a Flicker in flight leaving the nest carrying out the nestling's fecal sac. The subject is unique enough to call for the maximum score for the illustration of this behavior.
Score 3
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Focus depth of field seems to extend from the eye to the bark of the tree leaving the beak & fecal sac out of focus. Also there is a sharpening halo around the area of the front of it's head. Color balancing & manipulation seems to have passed the "excellent" point and now exceeds the normal and appears unnatural / out of balance particularly under the right wing, tree bark and background. I would back it up a bit.

Score 1
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Good timing & composition but cannot help wonder if an earlier frame might be better leaving the while composition in focus and connected..

Score 2
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NATURE SCORE: 3 - Nature story strong
TECHNICAL SCORE: 1 - Inadequate exposure, color balance and sharpness
PICTORIAL SCORE: 2 - Average composition and impact
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Total score: 6

PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Bricelj, Bogdan
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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: This cleaning process is a good ND story.
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: The bird is sharp and good lighted.
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Composition is the worst side of this image. The edge of trunk is quite on the middle. Trunk right from the hole is quite an unnecessary negative space. Cutting it out quite near the hole would make the photo much better. That would correct also the  format of photo. 16/9 is not a proper one.

And some words about 35 character limitation for exhibitions. Looking at my 1.200 accepted photos on international exhibitions I never needed more then 35 characters. But it's true, that the acceptances on club exhibitions is much much easier then on international. There such composition faults wouldn't pass.

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NATURE SCORE: 3 - Nature story strong
TECHNICAL SCORE: 3 - Excellent exposure, color balance and sharpness
PICTORIAL SCORE: 1 - Inadequate composition and impact
Extra Point awarded: 0 - No extra point
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Total score: 7

PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Ramchandani, Ranjan
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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: This image is the definition of a nature story. Thats all I have to say. It's perfect
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: I think you nailed the settings on your camera for this shot. 
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Very high pictorial value. The angle, distance of the bird from the nest, wings wide open looking at you and going about its job at the same time. Fantastic.
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NATURE SCORE: 3 - Nature story strong
TECHNICAL SCORE: 3 - Excellent exposure, color balance and sharpness
PICTORIAL SCORE: 3 - Excellent composition and impact
Extra Point awarded: 1 - Exceptional
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Total score: 10

PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Bodart, Marian
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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: This is a beautiful capture of a Northern Flicker leaving the nest. It's a universal story of mom taking care of the housekeeping and taking out the garbage. 
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Great exposure, lovely light, the image is sharp. You did a great job with the reflected light on the underside of the wing.  You clearly know the location well and the best way to make the most of the light and nesting habits of the birds.
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Great impact with catching the Flicker right as she leaves the nest. The image is beautifully composed.
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NATURE SCORE: 3 - Nature story strong
TECHNICAL SCORE: 3 - Excellent exposure, color balance and sharpness
PICTORIAL SCORE: 3 - Excellent composition and impact
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Total score: 9

PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Boros, LC
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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Great image and action shot:  strong story.  The title could be shortened though…. 
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: While the Flicker’s body is nice and sharp and the wee bit of motion blurring on the right wing is ok with me, the plane with the beak and the fecal sac is fuzzy.

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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: My only kvetch is that I think the image would be improved if you flipped it

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NATURE SCORE: 3 - Nature story strong
TECHNICAL SCORE: 2 - Average exposure
PICTORIAL SCORE: 2 - Average composition and impact
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Total score: 7

PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Bhattacharyya, Suman
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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: a perfect nature image. you have attained your goal in a perfect manner. 
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: image is tack sharp due to the gear you are using and the tech knowledge you are applying so keenly. light is so lovely.  just see a bit of halo emanating from the left tip of the feathers to be exact. 
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: placement of the eye in the composition is exact. I adore this shot of yours. 
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NATURE SCORE: 3 - Nature story strong
TECHNICAL SCORE: 3 - Excellent exposure, color balance and sharpness
PICTORIAL SCORE: 3 - Excellent composition and impact
Extra Point awarded: 1 - Exceptional
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Total score: 10

 















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 www.brucefinocchio.wordpress.com and his website at www.dreamcatcherimages.net