Nature Study Group 2


Jodi Smith (C)

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JANUARY 2022 ROUND

Title:   Green Heron's Lunch

Goal:   
I was nearing the end of the photo session and beginning to pack up when I noticed this Green Heron flying into a small creek. The Heron landed with a splash and came up with this hefty lunch serving. I'm fascinated by the size of the prey they are able to swallow in a single gulp.

Equipment/Source:    
Canon 7D, 100 - 400 mm at 400 mm, f/8, shutter speed 160, ISO 640. Handheld.
   
Technique:  
Handheld, kneeling down to get closer to eye level given the proximity of the creek. My lens was at the maximum zoom to get more detail without disturbing the bird.

Processing:  
I applied Topaz Denoise, to reduce the noise generated by the 640 ISO. I did not need to add very much, fortunately. I reduced the highlights and exposure on some of the foliage surrounding the bird as it was taken near the noon hour. Fortunately the area was shady so the harshest effects of the sun were mitigated.

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:  Rosy Ambushed by Gator
 
Goal:   I visited the rookery area on the Gulf Coast of Texas to observe the numerous nesting birds that share this area, including the Roseatte Spponbill, Cormorants, Snowy and Great Egrets. When I heard a commotion in the water, I immediately started snapping pictures before I fully realized what had happened. The alligators rest on the shorelines below the rookery, and the birds seemed mostly unfazed by them. The alligator ambushes its prey from underneath the water. My goal here was primarily to document the nesting. The predatory behavior of the alligator was a surprise to me.
 

Equipment/Source:    Canon EOS 7D Mark II with 100-400 lens. Focal length at 400 mm. f 5.6, shutter speed 250, ISO 200. Handheld,

Technique:    Standing on a bank across from the rookery, I used the maximum focal length of 400 mm to capture as much as possible. The lighting was a bit harsh as this was taken around noon so I used a slightly reduced ISO for the shutter speed. 

Processing:  The image is cropped by nearly 50% to remove distracting elements and draw the focus to the alligator and its prey. I did lower highlights, and reduced exposure by .3 to accomodate the noon time lighting. I also reduced the highlights on the brightest parts of the picture using the luminance mask after removing the subject from the mask as the number of feathers in the water distracted from the image.

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.
Jody, you can’t beat being at the right place at the right time. Too bad you weren’t closer to the action. An animal getting food is always a strong nature story. N3

Technically good. Reasonably sharp and good exposure. T3

Although you cropped by 50%, you need to crop more to get rid of all the distracting dead trees and limbs, and then sharpen it a little more. See my adjusted image. P2

Such a strong nature story deserves an extra point. E1

N3, T3, P2, E1 = 9


PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Fisher, Rich
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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: This is a good nature story, telling how gators take advantage of the rookery.  Your description does not tell how the gator gets the spoonbill, but unless you are watching, it would be hard to tell. Never-the-less I would be interested in how the gator won.
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Exposure is good as is the focus.  You did very well with the harsh lighting conditions.  There are a few bright spots and the image is rather cluttered due to the number of sticks/trees in the water.
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: The image is strong but I would like to see it flip left/right.  Not sure if that is strictly legal in nature but I think it might help.    Also I would crop off a bit on the top and bottom to create a panoramic framing.
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NATURE SCORE: 3 - Nature story strong
TECHNICAL SCORE: 2 - Average exposure
PICTORIAL SCORE: 2 - Average composition and impact
Extra Point awarded: 1 - Exceptional
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Total score: 8

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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE:  Good nature story of gator capture of spoonbill in a natural setting.
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE:  Image appears a little soft.  I think you need to increase your shutter speed especially hand holding that equipment.  Nice colour on bird.  Some white area are blown out.  Dark branches need some dodging.
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE:  I think if you cropped the top and foreground it would improve the image. Dark branch above gator's eye distracting.
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NATURE SCORE: 3 - Nature story strong
TECHNICAL SCORE: 2 - Average exposure
PICTORIAL SCORE: 2 - Average composition and impact
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Total score: 7

PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Ramchandani, Ranjan
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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: 100% a nature frame. It shows the circle of life in the free world of the wilderness.
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: The settings seem to be OK, but can't place my thoughts on why I am getting distracted with the light. Could because it was harsh and you have done your best to address it.
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Like the story and image but, I personally would have cropped a bit more from the bottom of the frame.
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NATURE SCORE: 3 - Nature story strong
TECHNICAL SCORE: 2 - Average exposure
PICTORIAL SCORE: 2 - Average composition and impact
Extra Point awarded: 1 - Exceptional
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Total score: 8

PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Paley, Louis
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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: what a wonderful shot!! particularly lucky to get a clear shot of the gator catching the bird -  a real action shot.
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: while this is wonderful shot, it is not particularly sharp anywhere;  to me that is understandable because you were setup to shoot rookery images, not necessarily a moving target.  The colors and bright spots were well handled
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: I was distracted by the many branches on the left side of the photo.  The gator and bird were well positioned to have a good impact.
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NATURE SCORE: 3 - Nature story strong
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: 7

PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Newlin, Susan
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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Dramatic nature story. The alligator almost looks triumphant and the Rosy has resigned to its fate. Good capture.
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Hard to get good exposure in mid-day harsh lighting, but the shade of the trees has helped. All is in focus, depth of field captured by the look through the trees, and exposure worked to set you up for post processing to control too high contrasts.
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Good composition, color, and framing of the action through the trees. A little over-saturated and I might back that off a bit.
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NATURE SCORE: 3 - Nature story strong
TECHNICAL SCORE: 3 - Excellent exposure, color balance and sharpness
PICTORIAL SCORE: 3 - Excellent composition and impact
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Total score: 9

PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Finocchio, Bruce
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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Strong nature story, and excellent capture of a decisive moment. The habitat is included and that’s a bonus or plus, with a nice window to shoot through the branches coming out of the water. 
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Exposure is fine. The sharpness is excellent. There is pleasant light on the gator’s face and a catch of light in its eye. Your post-processing light control for noon midday light is excellent. I would darken the green leaves on the top right corner, just a bit. Since they are light in tone, they draw the mind to the edge of the frame. I would darken the branch on the lower left side that’s very light, since it is on the edge of the frame.
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: For nature competitions, you can’t remove elements like feathers in the water. Only if you enter the image in a pictorial competition. PSA has a definition page for all competition categories, check on the nature one. The gator is faced slightly away. Ideally, it would be better facing slightly forward, but this is a minor quibble. All other composition elements work well. 
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NATURE SCORE: 3 - Nature story strong
TECHNICAL SCORE: 3 - Excellent exposure, color balance and sharpness
PICTORIAL SCORE: 3 - Excellent composition and impact
Extra Point awarded: 0 - No extra point
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Total score: 9

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.