Nature Study Group 2


Charlie Yang (C)

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JANUARY 2022 ROUND
Title:    Eagle Hunt

Goal:     
Looking forward to a good day (freezing, subzero, light, wind) to go up to Mississippi river to photograph bald eagles.
This time, beside capture eagle flying, catch fishes, especially want to stay as late to capture that sunset golden light on my eagle.

Equipment/Source:    Nikon D850, 500mm f/5.6, 1/2000s, ISO 900.
On tripod, but some times I took it off to capture something different, so forgot about on/off tripod for this image.
   
Technique:   Tracking eagle all the way from start diving, into water, grab its meal, take off.
Shot with burst mode, 3 shots at a time, then pick this one, because I like the light on eagle (not perfect, but best I got), and eagle's focus, assert on claws, it open up at the last moment. Gosh, I don't want to be any where close to those claws.

Processing:  crop, adjust light/shadow in LR, then send to PS for minor touch up, then Topaz Denoise, Sharpen, in that order.
On this issue, read about so many comments on web about should do denoise first, and some one perform sharpen first.
I would like to have some comments, advices on this issue, especially on the process sequences.

Thanks much.


Score this image:  YES

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

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



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DECEMBER 2021 ROUND
Title:   Sandhill crane behavior

Goal:   To check out Sandhill crane migrations, and take some photo. this is shot around the Jasper Pulaski wildlife refuge area. It's a long drive, while under covid, this is one place one activity that I'm comfortable with, as long as stay distance away, and avoid weekends. 
 

Equipment/Source:   First off, stop by the observation deck, just to get a gauge on the numbers of birds out there, not a lot, but show enough at the far end of the field. Then drove out to the corn fields, since after big gathering, they disperse to the fields to eat etc.

I pick this sections of fields, since no one are around, It's a cloudy day, sun peek out from time to time, then I park and set up gear to watch them, and take some photos

NIkon D850, 500mm pf f/6.3, 1/2000s, ISO 450, On tripod gimbal, burst mode. 

Technique:  This picture is one of the them that all quietly works the field, eating corns, sudden chaos, of a few Sandhill crane jumps up and calling. I'm not sure is it social meeting, arguing, or mating dance, It's continue one for a few minutes then back to quiet meal time.

Once I pick a bird, just train on him, and waiting for my subject to do something different than just eating and hopefully turn its face to light, then fire up a bunch, then wait for next moment.
My pick didn't disappoint me, suddenly, it jump up, and get excited, well, all I see is that he IS MAD.


Processing:  usual light room adjustment, crop, then send in PS, topaz denoise, Given last month's image, this time I look carefully after each process to make sure nothing strange happen, if so, at least I know what step the post processing did that.

Also, this time I skip topaz Sharpen AI, just avoid any more mishap

Score this image: YES 

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

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

Review by commentator Tom S.

Charlie, you did a good job picking out the correct bird for action. It does seem to be mad. Any time there is this much interaction between groups of creatures, then it is a strong nature story. However, you put your initials on the image, which is not allowed in nature. N1

You did a good job with the exposure and color but you made a mistake skipping Topaz Sharpen AI. The birds are simply not sharp enough. The head of the mad bird is very soft, and that is the center of interest. The cloudy day makes for flat lighting, so the image needs more contrast. T1

I like the action but there are a lot of extraneous birds in the image that are not part of the action, and we can’t see the head of the bird being attacked. P2

N1, T1, P2 = 4


PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Hill, Dennis
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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE:  You put some time and effort in obtaining this image showing Sandhill Crane behaviour.
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE:  Image appears soft lacking feather detail.  Colour on birds looks alright.
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE:  Unfortunately only one birds head is visible  with other birds facing away.  Composition would have been improved by framing the birds differently as there is too much space on L/H side of image.  hard to get good separation with so many birds.
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NATURE SCORE: 2 - Nature story of average strength (portrait)
TECHNICAL SCORE: 1 - Inadequate exposure, color balance and sharpness
PICTORIAL SCORE: 1 - Inadequate composition and impact
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Total score: 4

PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Ramchandani, Ranjan
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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: This is showing the cranes in nature, but am not too excited about the capture. 
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Personally I would have captured this frame at f14 at a higher ISO and brought in more birds into the frame or waited and framed more birds where the faces were visible. I also feel the image is a bit soft.
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: I like the concept of the birds but it did not grab my attention.My personal opinion is that I would have liked to see more birds flocking together or some more showing their faces in the frame.
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NATURE SCORE: 2 - Nature story of average strength (portrait)
TECHNICAL SCORE: 2 - Average exposure
PICTORIAL SCORE: 1 - Inadequate composition and impact
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Total score: 5

PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Paley, Louis
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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: very strong nature story of bird screetching at another bird; bird in action
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: technically this image is mediocre; most of it is not in focus, there are too many distracting birds on the right; the whites are blown out, etc.  however, I did not want to give you no points because of the effort and planning which you took to get this shot and because it is an overall pleasant image.
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: had you removed the extra birds on the right side, I would have rated this higher, but as is, the composition and impact are just average.
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NATURE SCORE: 3 - Nature story strong
TECHNICAL SCORE: 1 - Inadequate exposure, color balance and sharpness
PICTORIAL SCORE: 2 - Average composition and impact
Extra Point awarded: 0 - No extra point
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Total score: 6

PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Newlin, Susan
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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Good story and your patience paid off in being able to capture the bird in half-flight and squawking .
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Well exposed. A little soft in focus, and subject captured is partially covered and amidst other birds such that its behavior is not well isolated.
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: A lot of distraction from the other birds in the photo.  It would be hard to crop them out, so you are stuck with them. These birds present a photographic challenge because of that and finding isolated birds within a flock is very difficult. Nonetheless, the other birds crowd out your story so not a strong pictorial capture.
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NATURE SCORE: 3 - Nature story strong
TECHNICAL SCORE: 2 - Average exposure
PICTORIAL SCORE: 1 - Inadequate composition and impact
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Total score: 6

PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Finocchio, Bruce
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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Yes, there is some squabbling between birds going on in this image. The bird with the open beak has taken offense to another, so there is some nature story element. I wouldn’t say he is mad. That implies a human emotion to a bird. 
It’s hard to isolate sandhill cranes for they form flocks and gather together on the ground, especially in feeding areas. However, for me, there are just too many mergers with the other birds. Its wings hide the one that’s moving away’s head. There is too much visual clutter to present a strong visual nature story. 

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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Exposure looks good. Not sure what happened last month, but I think a bit of Topaz Sharpening would improve the feather detail. If done on a layer, you can reduce the layer’s opacity to fine-tune the sharpening if overdone. 
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Always check your frame borders. There is a partial sandhill crane beak sticking in the image from the left side of the frame. Cropping it out would solve this minor distraction. The visual clutter applies to the pictorial elements as well. In this situation with sandhill cranes, I always look to the edges of the flock to see if I can find a subject that isolated. Or position myself so I am in the best location possible to capture a clean image with a subject or subjects that are engaging in some type of behavior. It is difficult, but it’s something a good/great nature photographer would do. Learning the location, where is the best place to be, is a critical aspect of creating great nature imagery. As an example, I would not have included any light blue sky in my image. I would have tried to position myself so the distant trees were in the background instead. 
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NATURE SCORE: 2 - Nature story of average strength (portrait)
TECHNICAL SCORE: 2 - Average exposure
PICTORIAL SCORE: 2 - Average composition and impact
Extra Point awarded: 0 - No extra point
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Total score: 6

I love to travel, and travels bring back pictures and memories, that’s one of the reasons I join PSA, to take better pictures and learn what to adjust afterwards. Just start to learn the capabilities of LR and PS, and things some of my club friends can do with them just simply amaze me. 

Nikon D5300, D810 are my main camera, and still learning what they can do, and it's fun to walk around to take different pictures at different time and under different light. 

My other pastime is golf. Hope to play out 50 states PGA courses. 

I live in Schaumburg, Chicago suburb, looking forward to get some fun experiences with Nature.