Study Group 2

Butch Spielman

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Title:  Three vs One

Goal:   Went to a rookery and began to look for interesting activity. There is plenty of action, however the action is often masked or ruined by a branch, etc. So, many shots taken but few are chosen for post. At the rookery I noticed that there was a lot of contesting for nesting space and, as in this image, the stealing of sticks from the nest of another. The white egrets, the Great and Snowy, are very much a felonious species and will steal, steal and steal some more. Thus, the Roseate's do not want these crooks in their area of influence

Equipment / Source:    Used a Canon 5D III and Canon's10-0-400 Is lens. Hand held. Shot at f/5.6 1/400 sec, ISO 1600. I use this setup stand held as such gives me an ability to get on action that lasts for only seconds. When I shoot from a tripod I use a gamble mount which is a help in moving to catch the action 

Technique:  Hand held and fast shutter. Got to have some knowledge of the bird's behavior to get me on target and select the shots that I want.

Processing:    camera raw and photoshop

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

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

Review by Andy H.
Great shot with good action and i like the colours of the birds in the way they fit in the composition. Sticks always get in the road so you've down well with this image. Looks to be high, strong sun which makes exposure tough. Crop a little tight left and top. Image a little soft. I note your shutter speed at 1/400sec. If you were shooting at 400mm then you haven't given yourself much room when hand held and this could account for the softness.
N-3, T-2, P-3, E-0, Total-8

Review by Dennis H.
Great capture of interaction between different species of nesting birds.
Nice colour and detail on birds. Well lit with good composition.
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-0, Total-9

Review by Bogdan B.
You have really got a to action. Unfortunately branch in front of the bird and busy background decrease pictorial quality.
N-3, T-3, P-2, E-0, Total-8

Review by Maria K.
ou caught great moment and composition is very good.Greenery is quite uniform what is good.I am sure was nothing else what you could do.
I was surprised that 1/400 shutter you call fast . I wish for a bit softer light.
N-3, T-3, P-2, E-0, Total-8

Review by commentator Dan C.

You definitely captured an excellent nature story with this image.  Your exposure is excellent on the Roseate Spoonbills but looks wrong on the Snowy Egret.  Its feathers are too grey, almost like you tried to compensate for a white that was almost blown out.  The resulting grey tone does not look natural.

Cropping to a panel has helped focus on the nature story.  The area you removed does not add to this story.  Pictorially I would prefer to see just a bit more space behind the left spoonbill but since you have no real merger, I can accept what you do have.

N3, T2, P3, E0, Total 8

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Title:   Fishing for Bream

Goal:     Watching some egrets feeding. I was able to get within a few yards of the egrets. They appeared to be feeding on small shad. But this guy caught the "big one!" I wondered if he had bit off more than he could swallow. But darn if he didn't;t. I watched this fish as it moved down the egret's long neck.. Four ou later that some birds can swallow really large sized food as they have jaws which can separate at the jaw joint has like a snakes jaw. Interesting/

Equipment / Source:   Canon 5D III and 100-400 nn. Hand held (used a tree as a brace)  

Technique:   Slow approach to egrets ,trying to not make eye contact. Used tree trunks to hide my progress as I approached. Shot at f/6.3, and 1/1000 of a second.

Processing:   PS denoise and sharpening. Saturadtion adjusted. 

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

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

Review by Mike P.
I think this is a fabulous shot! You got an extremely sharp focus, a wonderful composition and beautiful colors and white feathers. I also like the nature story element. In my opinion, the tail fin of the fish could be brightened just slightly.
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-1, Total-10
Review by Louise H.
striking image. very nice nature story. The focus is sharp especially on the birds eye. The colors are sharp and crisp. The background compliments the image  
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-0, total-9
Review by commentator Rick C.

I find this to be a well captured nature story. You exposure is dead on the money with what I consider perfect whites for the Egret’s plumage. The prey adds to the nature story value and the colors in the fish’s side add to the interest and impact.. Primary focus looks good, though the eye could take some more sharpening as could the side of the bream. I gave each two or three passes with the sharpening tool and both looked a bit better without showing any negative effects. In part I think it is the F6.3 you were shooting at that was working against you a little here. Our star has a slight head angle toward you, which is very desirable but also pushes hard on the DOF. The Mark III you are shooting with won’t have any noise issues at iso 400 and you have no competition in the BG, so under circumstances such as these don’t be afraid to pop the iso to 400 and grab some extra DOF. I would say this is a solid shot relative to competition at any level.

N-3, T-3, P-3 = 9 

Review by Manu R., 3-28
Great action with nice details and composition. Eye in good focus with nice lighting makes the image effective. Contrast with the white subject and dark back ground add value. Nice catch for the egret and you. 
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-0, Total-9

Review by Eran P., 3-31
What a great picture. The Egret is so clear and bright, and I like the blur of the water in the back
N-2, T-3, P-3, E-1, Total-9


I am recently retired (chemical engineer/attorney) and I needed something to fill the resultant hole. I have fished and hunted all of my life, but was looking for a “soft” way to enjoy the outdoors and nature. Old age does that to you. I became interested in photography about 4 years ago. My photographic interests are wide in scope but I am now beginning to focus on wildlife. The “nature” category is a challenge.

I am an opportunistic photographer and try to find subjects wherever I go. My main “studios” are the swamps, marshes, woods and bayous of Louisiana. My subjects are mainly birds, flowers, insects, gators, etc. There are some excellent photo opportunities in the spring at the rookeries located in Louisiana’s Acadian (Cajun) country. Great food too!!!

I lean heavily in the direction of shooting “hand-held.” However, I will use a tripod in low light. I shoot Canon (70D and 5D III). I have several lenses, but my go-to lenses are the 24-104 mm 4.0L, 100-400 mm 4.5-5.6L and 70-200 mm 4.0L. Also use converters and extenders. Shoot in RAW and process with Photoshop CC and Nik Software.

I am only now beginning to enter competitions, etc. I have found success and recently won a Best in Show ribbon. I want to learn more (a lot more) and see what others folks are doing.