Study Group 2

Butch Spielman

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Equipment / Source:   



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

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Title:   Little Blue Heron Feasts on Crawfish 

Goal:  Looking for birds naturally interacting with their environment, that is feeding, nesting, etc. Found this Heron in the marsh of southwestern Louisiana. The Herons feed in areas that are well vegetated. Such makes accommodating the fact that there will be some vegetation covering a part of the bird. The trick is to keep the area of interest free of vegetation. The chosen image has some thin reeds that intersect the Heron's body, but are not found at the point of interest, that is, the part of the image showing the Blue heron's feeding on crawfish. By the way, in this part of the marsh, crawfish seem to be a major portion of the Blue Heron's diet.  

Equipment / Source:  Canon 5D III, EF 100-400 mm f/4.5 - 5.6 L ISA II USM. Shot at 1/200, f/5.0, ISO 800

Technique:  Observe and move, repeat until a shot is found. Hand held.

  PSCC, Camera Raw for color correction and dodge and burn. Sharpening where needed.

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

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

Review by commentator Rick C.

This one looks better on sharpness than some of the prior shots. I’m assuming you weren’t running into the same issues with the 5D III that you had with the 7D II. I think you captured the story well. While the material in front of the bird is somewhat of a distraction, I would agree that it doesn’t constitute anything significant. The bright stick behind its neck and the larger one on the left side are a little more problematic. The image has good contrast but looks as if you could boost the mid tones about half a stop if you wanted to make it a little brighter. The crop is reasonable but watch out for those “virtual” feet. You are getting very close to cropping into them on the bottom.

N-3, T-3, P-2 = 8 (P-2 The larger stick on the left and brighter ones in the background remain distractions despite having been burned in.)

Review by Mike P.
A wonderful capture. Extra sharp focus, especially since this was hand-held and were using a relatively shower shutter speed. Good nature story to illustrate its eating habits.
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-0, Total-9

Review by Les L.
I like sharpness of the bird and foreground with the soft background. This is a good nature story with the birds eating.My only suggestion is to position the bird slightly off center and toward a fixation point. 
N-3, T-3, P-2, E-0, Total-8

Review by Ken W.
Nice photo of a little blue heron catching a crawfish. Good eye detail, and I like the detail of the crawfish legs(?) on the beak. I may be off on this, but I think that the feather detail may be slightly over sharpened. I am also not sure, but the photo may be slightly underexposed. The grass is a little distracting, but the head of the bird and crawfish are clearly visible which is the important part of the image. 
N-3, T-3, P-2, E-0, Total-8

Review by Fran M.
Good shot of your bird and good action story. Only small suggestion is to crop the top of the image, making the aspect back to 6x4. (Seems to be 5x4, and the grasses at the top of the image are not really adding to your fantastic image.)
N-3, T-3, P-2, E-0, 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.