Study Group 2

Butch Spielman

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Title:  Interloper Rebuked  

Goal:     At a rookery this year. Very thick foliage. Many birds were contesting for nesting sites. It was apparent that there is bad blood between Snowy Egrets and Blue Herons. This image shows a Blue Heron chasing a Snowy Egret from the former's nesting area.  

Equipment / Source:   Used a Canon 5D III, and 100-400 mm lens and hand held. Shot at f/7.1, 1/6400 and ISO 800

Technique:  Patient observation and handheld to shorten response to shoot time.

Processing:  PS and Camera Raw. Dodge and Burn, exposure and sharpening

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 birds are both in nice breeding plumage. You captured the action quite well. I like the fact that both have only on foot actually touching one of the branches as they hop along the available perches. The wing position on both is also effective in conveying the story. Your focus looks good. DOF was going to be problematic when the BG is that close and that dense. I think the idea of burning it in a bit is reasonable but I would say you are on the edge of having gone too far, at least for a pure nature shot. The lighting was muted, but I don’t think you have to leave your tonal range there. Brightening the birds would help with the separation. Also, watch out for elements becoming overly saturated when you darken them. The greens behind the Little Blue have almost gone neon on you. Remember to pull back on both saturation and contrast when you darken things.

N-3, T-3, P-2 = 8 (P-2 Try reworking the post processing a bit along the lines I have suggested. I think the potential is there despite the clutter in the environment.)

Review by Mike P.
I think this is a wonderfully captured image. It carries a strong nature story element. You did an especially good job of getting an extremely sharp focus, especially since they were obviously moving quite a bit. I think it is well composed and exposed. Nice, powerful shot.
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-0, Total-9

Review by Les L.
Good nature image as two birds contest over nest. I like the contrast between the color of the birds which adds drama to the photo. Photo is tack sharp with no noise. Good composition.
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-0, Total-9

Review by Maria K.
Great action and good technique.
Business of the scene is taking away from pictorial value but you did very well for the conditions.
N-3, T-3, P-2, E-0, Total-8

Review by Louise H.
Wonderful image the nature story really comes through. The focus is really sharp esp. around the eyes The colors of the birds are captured well very good image. 
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-0, Total-9

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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

Review by Bruce F.
Powerful nature story with the spoonbills defending their nest. I like the panoramic format—the 16 x 9 format for this scene. Works extremely well. I think the placement of the birds creates a nice visual triangle. The only thing I would like to see is a bit more room on the left. The one spoonbill’s rear end is touching the edge of the frame. Technically, I think the egret's back wing is overexposed and a bit hot. I would try to tone down this area with a targeted adjustment. Also, add a bit of light under the wing of the one spoonbill on the right. You have certainly caught a decisive moment. I have given you an extra point for this.   
N-3, T-2, P-2, E-1, Total-8

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.