Study Group 2

Butch Spielman

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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)

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Title:  Forever Hungry

Goal:   Came to a rookery later in the season. The chicks had grown to a significant size. I noted that the distribution of food was determined by which chick got to the food first. These Roseate Spoonbills ate the food regurgitated by the parent. I was surprised at how deep the chicks would insert their bills into their parent's gules's. This image was the best that I have of this behavior. 

Equipment / Source:   Canon 5D III and a Canon 100-400mm 

Technique:  Shot at f/8.0, 1/1600 and ISO 500; hand-held

Processing:    Dodge and Burn; slight sharpening

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

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

Review by Mike P.
I feel you have captured a very strong nature story with the busy feeding going on here. The soft green background is a perfect backdrop to the pinkish feathers. Your focus and exposure look nicely done. There were a few small limbs that slightly intruded onto the image but I also think that was unavoidable in trying to capture a nesting scene within a tree.
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-0, Total-9

Review by Les L.
Good nature story. I would like to see the image lightened overall. Seems a little dark. Like the focus and color quality which I think absolutely suits the spoonbills.
N-3, T-2, P-3, E-0, Total-8

Review by Bogdan B.
You succeed to get perfect moment of feeding. Photo is perfectly sharp and good exposed. A little distractive is the branch on the upper side and crowd with "lost" chick behind on the right. I believe, it was the best that you could do.
N-3, T-3, P-2, E-1, Total-9

Review by Bruce F.
This image has a powerful nature story of a parent feeding her chicks. The nest is a bit crowded with four chicks, yet there is a nice window between the branches to see the nest and the feeding. You can see all the faces except for the one chick that is actually feeding. This chick has the back of its neck to the viewer, but does shows how far the chicks go into the parent’s mouth to get the food. The lighting is diffused and the pink color of the spoonbills is well saturated and compliments the green of the foliage, each color enhance the other. My only thought is perhaps a different nest site that was less crowded or a different moment were all the chicks’ faces would be clearly seen and where there weren’t any mergers could produce a special spectacular image. This comes very close. I guess I have the photographers’ lament of capturing the perfect image. Overall, well done, and excellent nature image with a great story. 
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-0, Total-9

Review by Dennis H.
Good nature story of parent feeding chicks. Nice colour & feather detail on foreground chicks. Parent's head and back of chick's head appear soft.
N-3, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-7

Review by Andy H.
Lovely nature image that ticks all the boxes for me. Wish we had such beautiful subjects over here. Great interaction with minimal distraction and obstruction from branches. Well composed. Good DOF, sharp and nice colours.
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-0, Total-9

Review by Maria K-L

I think you got the most from the situation. Great nature story, good focus ,dof and details.
Burning edges was good idea.The scene was difficult becouse birds bodies were overlapping and you could do anything about it. 
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.  The details are sharp and add to the story value of the image.

Only one minor issue that really does not apply unless you want to be a purist.  If the dodging you indicated you did involved creating that vignette appearance it might be considered a step too far.  Yes, it is a technique that helps focus the viewer on the story and could be said to come under the allowed selective lightening and darkening adjustments.  The question is whether the resulting image appears natural as also required by the definition.  That question is the only reason I did not award this image the point for Exceptional.  It is still an excellent image I wish I had in my own collection.

N3, T3, P3, E0, 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.