Study Group 2


Bruce Finocchio (B)

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NOT PARTICIPATING IN THE SEPTEMBER OR OCTOBER ROUNDS


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NEXT 2021 ROUND

Title:   

Goal:   

Equipment / Source:    

Technique:    

Processing:   

Score this image: YES

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

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AUGUST 2021 ROUND
Title: A Pacific Gophersnake Uses Tongue To Sense Its Environment
 
Goal:  To capture the gopher snake on or in the water of my pond.
I had an interesting experience and sighting of a Pacific Gophersnake, (Pituophis Catenifer Catenifer) at my beloved Ramrod Ranch. I almost stepped on this snake as I approach my small pond from walking around the topmost photographic blind. The snake was underwater drinking in my small pond. Its head was completely immersed in the water. I was amazed that it was drinking underwater.
I had left my equipment in my blind, so it was very easy to swap out my 600 mm f4.0 IS to my 100 – 400 mm f5.6 lens II, so I could get a frame-filling image of the snake on the water of the pond.
It was a big snake about four feet long. By the head shape, the coloration, and body pattern, I knew it wasn’t the more common rattlesnake. Still almost stepping on it, did elevate my adrenaline. Its coloration with the black botches and red coloration, including a stripe down its back, confused me, and my identification. The typical gopher snakes at my ranch have lots of yellow, and no red, nor any stripes down their bodies, rather they have brown and yellow diamond shape patterns down the length of their bodies. However, after sending the image to a snake identification site, I learned that this species has many different colorations and patterns.
After drinking it seemed to sense I was close by, thus, it raised its head and used its tongue to sense the environment. This was the moment I caught in this image. 

Equipment / Source:    Canon R5 Body, With A EF 100 – 400 mm f5.6 IS II lens, at 1/1250 of a second, f10, ISO 2000. 

Technique:   Handheld, laying on the ground, slightly below the snake to get an eye-level image.

Processing:  I did some image clean-up with DXO new update Viveza, by darkening the out-of-focus body on the right side, I also darken many light areas in the water, reducing the light and the contrast of the area above the snake. The snake face was overexposed a bit, so I darkened this area too. I also used Topaz DeNoise AI on the entire image except for the snake’s face. Then, I applied Topaz Sharpen AI on the snake's face and tongue only, by applying a mask on a separate layer. Because I planned to enter this image in a Nature competition, I left the bright out-of-focus water droplets in the 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 Tom S.
It is a nice portrait of a gopher snake so not much of a nature story.  N2

Technically well done.  Good color, sharp, and nothing to distract the viewer.  T3

The low angle really makes this image much better than if it were looking down at the snake.  Nice work.  P3

Because it is just a portrait, I wouldn’t expect it to score very high in nature in an international exhibition since the high scoring images will have a strong nature story.  Also, you need to shorten the title to make the 35-character limit.

N2, T3, P3, E0 = 8 


This Review is written by: Rich F

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Nice image of the gopher snake. Interesting position for the tongue as its senses its environment. There is something in the water, like a bee, walking on the submerged stick ??? very confusing.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Good exposure, colors are true, eye is sharp,tongue motion is frozen. Like how the DOF works to keep the snake's body OOF.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Aside from being a snake there are some distractions. Below the head there is a something like a giant bee in the water. Also the stick looks like it was partially cloned out. You said you cleaned up the image, did you cause these problems? That aside, the position of the snake and reflection works well.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 3-Excellent composition and impact

EXTRA POINT 0-No extra point

TOTAL SCORE 9


This Review is written by: Rick D.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Hi Bruce. This is a very cool shot along with a good story. I feel the beauty of snakes is often overlooked due to the bias most people have towards them. What an amazing physiology they have! Getting the tongue in the shot is a plus! A very nice portrait.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I find your gear, settings and shooting technique are spot on! Well done! I also appreciate the detailed narrative, including the edits, that you provided. Who doesn’t like a good story?

PICTO RIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Nice job with the background and shooting position. Although I scored your technique highly, I feel that a slightly tighter crop on both sides would give more emphasis to the subject. Also, the eye and lighter areas of the head still seem a little over exposed. However, I realize these may be matters of personal likes and dislikes. As it is, this photo has great impact!

NATURE SCORE 2-Nature story of average strength (portrait)

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 3-Excellent composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 8


This Review is written by: Dennis H

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
You certainly had an interesting experience with this snake. Good capture of snake showing behaviour with tongue sensing the air.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Good colour on snakes body, eye clear with catch light. Head of snake appears a little over exposed washing out some of the colour and detail.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Your efforts have certainly paid off with this image. Good composition and impact, also with snakes reflection. Looks some spots from camera lens on L/H side.

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: Dave F.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Very nice image, No not a lot going on regardless snake in the water with tongue out very nice.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Image is well exposed and kudos for getting low to the ground. You have a spot of light on the head of the snake very nice and darkening the background nicely done.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I enjoy the image including the reflection in the water - and you can barely see the tip pf thee tongue in t he reflection - very nice.

NATURE SCORE 2-Nature story of average strength (portrait)

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 3-Excellent composition and impact

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