Study Group 2

Butch Spielman

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Title: Grazing Purple Gallinule 

Goal:   The Purple Gallinule is found to be "uncommon" in Peterson Field Guide to birds. I have spent at least 50 years in the marshes and swamps of Louisiana, and I can attest that this bird is indeed "uncommon" i. e. occurs in small numbers and missed on a substantial number of days.

I got a call from a friend who told of viewable "Purples." I went and found several. These birds are often deep in the reeds, but now they were coming to edge of the reeds to feed.

This shot was one of several and was unusual to me as I had never seen a "Purple" eating the pith of the reeds. This was a tough shot as the bird was still in the edge of the reeds. 

Equipment / Source:   Canon 400 mm, Canon 7D MarkII. Hand-held.

Technique:  Find out where the birds are, try to get as low as you can and pray for a clear shot.

 PS color and contrast changes to get the right light and color

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

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Title:   Three to see

Goal:    I was looking for unusual activity or scenes in the Southwest Louisiana Marsh. I took this shot because I could capture in frame a Great Blue Heron and a Tricolor Heron with both in good focus. It was good fortune that these two birds were essentially in the same plane and thus both are in good focus. Shot at f/8.0, 1/1250 sec, ISO 800. Hand held.
While processing I noticed a surprise subject. Can you find and identify?

Equipment / Source:   Canon 5D III, Canon EF 100-400 mm 

Technique:   Slow observation of an area for something unusual. Hand held to enable quick reaction to activity 

Processing:   PS CC, sharpening and color enhancement 

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

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Review by commentator Dan C.

You definitely captured an interesting image even if the story is not that strong.  It is better than a straight here I am shot since it shows all three birds sharing the same habitat.  That lets me up the nature score to a 2.  Capturing what appears to be a common snipe was a nice bit of lagniappe.

Technically the image is well handled and even the hidden treasure is adequately sharp.  Your triangle works well pictorially though it would have been stonger with the two larger birds facing in instead of out. Of course you could also claim that having them looking away from each other was intentional.

N2, T3, P2, E0, Total 7

Review by Andy H.
Interesting image and well seen. Exposure is fine, sharp where necessary and DOF fine. The image for me lacks impact possibly due to the camouflage of the birds doing its job. Not sure how you could improve it in this case. The composition doesn't work for me as I'm not sure which bird to look at. If one had been more dominant that might improve the image. The water in the background give me the impression that the image is not balanced. Glad to see that you have left room for the feet even when you can't see them. How often have we take an image to find 'something else' lingering in the background or foreground?
N-3, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-7

Review by Michael B.
- Nature Story: Great shot of three species of water fowl! My guess is some kind of Godwit, but I’m not 100% confident in my guess?
- Technical Quality: DoF/sharpness is outstanding throughout the entire image…the reeds from the front of the image to the back of the Great Blue really adds to the overall image quality. The image seems to be a bit underexposed; maybe just a tad more shadows would help. Colors are natural allowing for the late fall/winter to show.
- Pictorial Quality: Crop really hinders this image! Additional space is needed on all sides. Your crop would be good on the bottom if you had not gotten the surprise subject…however, since they are there and you included them in the image, they need more space as it feels they have no feet. I love the low angle of the image.
N-2, T-2, P-1, E-0, Total-5

Review by Bogdan B.
Yes, the image is interesting, because both birds are sharp. I've found the third one in the middle. But on the other side there's too much sharp and distracting grass and both birds are very near the edge of the image, looking outside.
N-3, T-2, P-1, E-0, Total-6

Review by Dennis H.
Unfortunately it's hard to get a good image of birds with messy backgrounds. But you've succeeded in capturing 3 different species in the one image.
N-2, T-2, P-2, E-0, total-6

Review by Bruce F.
I see it. It’s a shorebird. I am not certain of the species without consulting my bird idenification guides. I think you were anomored by the three species and the finding of the third one after the fact. Rather than the merits of exhibiting a good nature image.

A snapshot, a record of what you might find in this marsh or wetland habitat. The subjects are so static. Like a staged diorama, maybe. I say this, because there is little connection between the birds, no behavior or interaction. They aren’t looking at each other, in fact the two herons are looking away from each other out of the frame. This doesn’t help the composition nor add to the nature story value.
I don’t mean to be harsh, but where is the artistry and vision of the photographer, and the nature story that weaves a tale that will excite the viewer.

I know you can do better.

Technically the depth of field is good; the three subjects in focus. The dried reed foreground is within the range of focus too. Exposure is correct.

The lighting is midday, and not that exciting. Perhaps, the late light of a nearing sunset would have given the image more pop and drama, lessening the static diorama appearance. 
N-2, T-3, P-2, E-0, Total-7

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.