Study Group 2


Charlie Yang (D)

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SEPTEMBER 2021 ROUND
Title:    Goldfinch snack on sunflower

Goal:     capture goldfinch visiting sunflower, seeding time.

Equipment/Source:    D850, 500mm pf, f/5.6, s=1/1600, ISO=900, on tripod,  
   
Technique:   walking the field of sunflowers, in the neighboring preserve. Hoping to see goldfinch come for some snack. With light breeze, saw a female on one stalk, then set up my gear, looking for male come in for a quick bite.
Knowing that they won't be here long, I prep my setting to hope to capture some snacking. Well, this time, I got one in the act. 

Processing:  Since I lower my shuttle speed from my usual 1/3200 and up, got lucky to have a rather low ISO value, still I ran through Topaz, and crop off half or so. then tune the tone and shadow, darken a few spot. that's it.  

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 J.D.
(to come)


Review by commentator Jan Lee
Nature Story:
This image has wonderful impact. There is a very strong feeling of the animal’s habitat, and it does not overpower the bird. He is caught in the act of the floweret, and yet is still ready for flight if he spies a threat. I love the how his foot is displayed in the image. The way it is grasping the plant is a strong element in the nature story.

Technical Quality:
Technically, there is nothing “off” with this image. The plant and bird are sharp just where they need to be. In fact, a much deeper depth of field would be distracting. It does not bother me at all they the tail end of the finch is not completely sharp.

Pictorial Quality:
I think the colors and exposure could not be better. You have put the face and beak very close to the upper right ordinal cross, and the overall composition is strong.

This image is very strong in all areas, and has loads of impact.

N – 3; T – 3; P – 3; E - 1 = 10



This Review is written by: Diana R.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Good nature story capture with the bird on the sunflower with food in its mouth.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Settings worked well with great exposure, depth of field and sharpness

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I feel the composition works well with a lovely color palette. Since you say you cropped the image, I wonder if it was possible to crop in such a way that the bird wasn’t so centered.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TE CHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 3-Excellent composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 9


This Review is written by: Eric N.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
I initially saw this as a portrait but in a closer look I noticed the see in the finch's mouth. Great story. The detail in the image is superb. I can even see the ant on the leaf behind the bird.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The exposure is spot on as is the focus. the open aperture has the leaves in the background slowly going out of focus so the bird and the sunflower are in focus as the stars of the show

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The detail in the bird is quite good. The feathers on the back show great detail and colors balance each out well.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 3-Excellent composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 9


This Review is written by: Susan N.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Nice nature story with MALE American Goldfinch feeding

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Well framed to include detail of plant and position the bird. I would like to have seen the bird a bit more off-center, but capturing the full outline of the plant without cropping interesting shapes is well-done.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Beautiful detail on the bird and blurred background. Try cropping in on right a bit even if you cut off the end of the leaf there. Colo rs are bright and engaging.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 3-Excellent composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 9


This Review is written by: Louis P

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
excellent catch of the finches like we have here in MD; excellent that you caught the finch with food in its beak.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
excellent catch-light in bird's eye; tack sharp from the shoulders to tip of beak; since the black areas were so dark, it appeared that the rear was less sharp; colors were very good.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
since I take so many similar images, I appreciated the effort, but you might get a more exciting one with th e bird hanging over the seed head, or eating the seed.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 7


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AUGUST 2021 ROUND
Title:   Goldfinch eat sunflower petals and seeds

Goal:   heard the call, and know that gold finch is in the neighborhood, but don't know when! So my goal is to catch them in an act. Recently, the sunflower is blooming, soon, know finch will come by and eat the flower petals and then seeds.
Got it narrow down on morning and evening, thus, I'd set up tripod out and watch it those hours.

Though on this day, I didn't capture they eating the seeds, but flower petals are all gone, curtesy to them, and I know they will swing by to eat more seeds, or wait for them to be ready for them. 
 

Equipment/Source:   Nikon D850, 500mm f/8, with ext 1.4, @700mm, 1/2000, iso auto(@1000), tripod

Technique:  Though I saw them approach sunflower plant, the pair take turns, one one flower, the other on guard not far away, they each take turns took a few nib, then exchange and flew out. Only get to capture this female one in good light, and good angle.

Processing:  process in LR first, severe crop, adjust b/w point, then run through Topaz DeNoise AI, then PS curve a bit,
The problem I run into is that usually, they come around 1.5-2 hours after sunrise, the light is harsher than I used to when I out shooting sunrise or sunset. have a hard time to deal with that light, any suggestion? 

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 Jan L.
Just a note here: remember that when you enter into PSA international exhibitions, you must not have any data on the image that identifies you. This image would immediately be disqualified from the competition.

Nature Story:

The nature story would be much stronger if you caught the bird while it was actually eating. Although this is an active pose and the bird does look like she is about to fly off, she is just sitting there.

Technical Quality:

As presented, the bright sunflower stalk almost overpowers your finch. You are lucky that the face of the bird is so well lit, and very sharp. You ask about help with the lighting. I suggest that you ask some fellow camera club members for help – the ones you know to be experts in Photoshop. There are several nature-legal techniques that will help with this image. However, you will always want to leave the plant brighter than the finch. That is just the way the light fell, and any really major change will not look natural in your final product.

Pictorial Quality:

This image has a lot of impact at first. You placed the head and eye just where they need to be for maximum effect. Unfortunately, the eye then begins to be drawn away from the bird, and onto the very bright stalk. Once seen, it is very difficult to look away.

N – 2, T – 2, - P – 1 = 5


This Review is written by: Janice R

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Goldfinch's are some of my favorite birds. I think they are just so pretty. You caught a nice catchlight in this portrait.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
At 1/1000 your shutter speed should have been adequate but much of the image is out of focus. I'm assuming that this is due to the DoF. I like that the eye is sharp, but at least on my monitor, the beak is somewhat soft and the rest of the bird is out of focus. I also would like to have seen the shadow on top of the head lightened.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The pose of this bird is beautiful but the bight, out of focus stem of the sunflower in front of the bird is very distracting and, because of it's brightness, it competes with the subject.

NATURE SCORE 2-Nature story of average strength (portrait)

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 6


This Review is written by: Larry T

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
The key to having a successful nature image is having a viable story line, While you say the goldfinch is eating seeds I have absolutely no clue as to this activity taking place. The bird is essentially standing on a plant. Since the hand of man is not shown cannot offer a score lower than a 2.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Exposure and sharpness are necessary to a technically sound photo. In this care the eye of the bird and its face are shown with acceptable sharpness and they are properly exposed. The rest of the image suffers from a variety of flaws. Shots of an animal’s rear are generally not going to earn high scores, they are even less likely to earn a higher mark when they are shown with less that acceptable sharpness. You are clearly struggling with light and the background is in shadow (that is OK) but the large vertical portion of the flower is certainly over exposed as it is standing in much righter light. The fact the entire foreground is very dominate in the frame and so badly out of focus weakens the image.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
While framing a subject using natural elements is an accepted photographic compositional practice in this case it does not work. The first thing my eye is drawn to is the b right vertical portion of the flower. The bird is purely secondary. The lower portion of the flower, while better exposed is a mixture of being both in and out of focus and thus appears to be accidental to the image. The bird does hav e a “cute” expression on its face but the large, out of focus body does not show the beauty of the bird. This would be much nicer if you had provided a clear, unblocked view of the bird in a profiled position. To get a real nature story, the bird would have to have a seed in its beak.

NATURE SCORE 2-Nature story of average strength (portrait)

TECHNICAL SCORE 1-Inadequate exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 1-Inadequate composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 4


This Review is written by: Jodi S.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
The picture alone does not tell much of the story but I am fascinated by your description of their behavior.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The eye is tack sharp, and the fibers on the petals are surprisingly clear.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The image seems to be cropped too much, cutting off the tail of the bird. As you noted, the lighting is beginning to get a bit harsh. I do not know if this helps, but I was listening to a judge last night talk about some pic tures being improved by bracketing the shot in different exposures to adjust for this kind of distraction. I am intrigued by the idea, and passing it on.

NATURE SCORE 2-Nature story of average strength (portrait)

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 6


This Review is written by: Pinaki S.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
This is 100% nature image.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I like the catchlight on the bird's eye. The bird seemms to be sharp. Would lower shutter speed and low F number would have helped ?
Maybe that was not possible because in the field things move so fast.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
A lot of things in the foreground is out of focus. That is distracting. Also the bokeh is just flat green.
I do like the colore tones and the light.

NATURE SCORE 2-Nature story of average strength (portrait)

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 7

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.