Study Group 2


Jodi Smith (D)

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SEPTEMBER 2021 ROUND

Title:   Breakfast at First Light

Goal:   I set up my bird blind before sunrise and settled in to capture the first light's cast on the hummingbird's back. The window of time for this is quite narrow given the surrounding trees and overstory, so I was tickled to succeed on the third day of trying.

Equipment/Source:    Canon R5, RF 100-500. 1/3200 sec at f 5.6, iso 1600. Focal length 363 mm. 
   
Technique:  I set up the bird blind and stool so I would be eye level with my hummingbird visitors. I wanted to capture as much of the wing action as I could that early so the shutter speed is 3200. I bumped the ISO up a bit to expose to the right.

Processing:  I tried to reduce the effect of our wrought iron fence behind the bird by moving the picture to light room, using the magic wand to select the black colors, and lifting the black slider to 30 to tone this down. It is cropped to 16 x 9 as I wanted to use it as a banner on my social media.  

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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AUGUST 2021 ROUND
Title:  Papa Oriole's Breakfast Delivery
 
Goal:   The Baltimore Oriole builds a unique nest that hangs from one of the outer branches of a tree. The nest is made of twine, twigs spider webbing. The Orioles always make a new nest each year but they often pull parts of the old nest in the process. Once the babies hatch, both parents participate in a flurry of chatter and activity bringing food to the babies.I knew the location of the nest and the access to the picture would be challenging given the proximity to the sunlight. It would have to be backlit. 
 

Equipment/Source:    Canon R5, 100 - 500 lens at 324 mm, shutter at 2000, f 7.1, ISO at 12,800.

Technique:    I used a fast shutter speed to capture the flight of the birds. I selected this shot over the flight shots as it revealed the nest and the worms. The gray skies that morning, and the high shutter speed and ISO added challenges. I had to aim up toward the nest exacerbating the lighting.

Processing:   I processed the color in neutral, with basic adjustments. I added filters to tone down the bright sky so the eye is drawn to the bird and the nest. I processed this image in Topaz Denoise to assist with the high ISO.

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.
This is a strong nature story. Active and prolonged caring for young is almost universal for warm blooded animals, and this is an excellent example of it. Not only does it show a parent in action, but the image also brings in a good view of the amazing nest. I am amazed that you actually got a shot of the worm. The only thing that would have made this better, is if a baby was visible.

Technical Quality:

Your write up listed most of your technical difficulties, so I won’t repeat them. You did a good job of getting a usable image from the circumstances. I do want to suggest that you run this through a sharpening program. The whole thing is a little soft. While you did tone down the white background, you could also do a bit of brightening of the foreground. This lighting is very flat.

Pictorial Quality:

If all of your technical problems were solved, this image would have loads of impact. As it is, it is hard to look away from the sky and concentrate on the bird’s activity.

N- 3, T – 1, P – 1 = 5


This Review is written by: Janice R

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
In my opinion this is a skilled capture because of the technical issues. That said, I really wanted to see what was in the nest.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Because of the light, the need to use a high shutter speed and high ISO and shooting into the light made this a very difficult image to make. That said, I think you were very successful. The bird is sharp without obstructions and the worm is clearly visible. It doesn't matter that the sky is grey and you did a nice job with toning down the s ky so it's not distractingly bright.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
In my opinion the bird is beautiful with very nice detail and also sharp detail on the worm. Because the next is prominent and takes up so much of the foreground, I want it to be sharper.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL - 8


This Review is written by: Charlie Y

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Bring home the bacon, sure would be a nice nature story line.
While over half of an image devoted to a nest, where it's nice, but didn't exhibit baby chick or feeding action, thus, wondering if this is the best use of the image to tell the story?
This raise the question of what is the main story focus should be, the bird with a worm, with some of nest, or a full nest showing? and how much real estate should be used for that?


TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
bird and worm seems sharp enough, but nest is not. Thus combine with above point, seems, crop out most of the nest or something like would still tell your story, more effective?
at the same time, given your lens has 500mm range, push to full range @500, would give you an image with birds in focus and fill the frame. Perhaps to ponder at that for your next shot.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
As mentioned, perhaps a sharper half of bird and less nest, would be a more impactful image?

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

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 1-Inadequate composition and impact

EXTRA POINT 0-No extra point

TOTAL SCORE 5


This Review is written by: Larry T

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
You have captured an image of a bird in proximity with its nest so there is somewhat of a nature story connected to the image. However, in my opinion, this is not a particularly strong story as the bird is merely shown “with” its nest. There is no collecting or applying of nesting material, no young are visible and food for the young (or even for the bird itself) is not clearly visible. None of the flurry and chatter that you refer to is evident. Thus, the story element is only average. When selecting (or capturing) an image for a nature category the story is paramount. However, the story, in its entirety MUST be both visible and clear to the viewer. You cannot verbally “tell” the story it has to be shown in the image. While this may sound silly I always ask myself, “could a 9 year old child look at this and tell me the story without any assistance from me?

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Technically, you faced a daunting challenge when trying to capture this image. By shooting upward into the tree you backlit the bird and the nest and in doing so greatly exceeded the dynamic range of the camera. Therefore the background is completely blown out and you only made it worse as you tried to open the shadows. If you look in the upper right corner you can see ghosting along the sides of the branch which is the telltale give-away of the issue. If you are faced with this situation there are limited options that you might employ to solve the problem. My be st advice is to simply not take the shot in the first place. If you MUST take the shot I would suggest do so on an extremely overcast day and then to do so either very early in the day or late in the evening when the light is not bright. As an alternative you might wish to invest in a product known as a Better Beamer. This is an attachment that may be added to a flash unit to will increase the range of the flash. You will end up by using the light of the flash to take the picture, but this will darken your background as the light will fall of rapidly. Another possibility may be to return at a different time of day when the light is coming from a different angle and may strike the nest in a more beneficial manner. A second issue with this image is a lack of critical sharpness on the nest itself. With such a high shutter speed it would seem this is a product of a lack of depth of field not camera movement. Shooting at a focal length of 324mm and an aperture of only 7.1 you sim ply did not have enough DOF. Your ISO setting of 12,800 was certainly high enough to expose the bird, (located in the shadows) but it completely blew out the background and the highlights on the nest.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Other than the issues previously mentioned (all of which impact the pictorial quality of the image) the image appears to be squeezed into the frame. I would have liked to see a bit more space above the bird and certainly more space below the nest so that it does not appear to be accidently cut off. There is an old adage that states if you are going to crop, do so with a chain saw. That is if you must crop, make it major and not slight. You would likely have a stronger image you cropped half of the away from the bottom.

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

TECHNICAL SCORE 1-Inadequate exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 5


This Review is written by: Pinaki S.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
As far as I am concerned this is 100% nature image capturing a touching event of life.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
There is catch light on the birds photo. Which is good, however it seems to me that the birds nest is slightly fuzzy.
Some leaves are also little out of focus.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Given the difficulty of pointing the camera upwards and getting a good shot like this one..I must say this is very good image.
The sky seems to be little grey , probably because of the software filter. The POV is excellent.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 7

I discovered the joy of nature photography and bird watching around Thanksgiving in 2015. Since then, I have focused on creating a certified wildlife habitat in my yard, reading everything I can get my hands on about wildlife, and attending wildlife photography classes at every opportunity. Living in a lake community, I have become a de facto wildlife “consultant” for the neighborhood. Given my late arrival to the joys of nature and wildlife, I find this new notoriety humorous. As I will officially retire January 1, 2021, I am looking forward to pursuing this new passion with a new freedom. I look forward to sharing what I have learned, and learning from this group.