Nature Study Group 2


Larry Treadwell· (C)

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JANUARY 2022 ROUND
Title:   I Love you, Mom
    
Goal: It seems like only a few years ago Wood Storks were on the endangered species list and were hard to find and very skittish. Now their numbers have dramatically increased and nesting sites are hard to find for their increased numbers. Thus they tolerate humans much more than than previously as they must nest closer to where humans live and work. My goal was to try to capture some interaction between the adults and their young hoping for something other than actual feeding as everyone seems to gravitate to that type of shot.


Equipment/Source:   Nikon D850 with 200-400 f4 Nikkor lens mounted on tripod. Due to the dark shadows caused by the location of the nest I used ISO 1000. I settled on f6.3 because the birds were not on an even plane and I wanted some DOF. The chick was actually bobbing up and down and never still so the shutter was 1/640 the freeze the action.

Technique:  Wood storks and their nests are a pain to photograph. To avoid the direct heat of the Florida sun most nests are built tucked into the thick mangroves and thus even in good light the nests are in deep shade and very cluttered with branches that block viewing. Sadly these birds choose to nest an a very busy environment. Until Nikon makes a 400mm lens with a aperture of 1.2, this will have to do. This nest was somewhat clear because the large adult bird made so many trips in and out that a sort of tunnel had been created. There were two chicks in the nest (the rounded head of the second chick can be almost seen at the base of the visible chick’s neck) but the visible one was the most active rising to nudge the mother when it wanted more food. Wood storks are not pretty birds but the was something charming about the way the chick leaned against its mother. I know I should not attribute human qualities to animals but this image cried for the title I chose.

Processing: Post was to simply crop from both sides to a more square format because I did not feel the need to show more mangroves especially because they were in brighter sunlight. Note I am shooting into a tunnel as this nest is about 3 feet into the mangroves and certainly not in an open area. My crop was to eliminate all the leaves catching bright midday sunlight. Due to the heavy shadows in the nesting area I did some dodging on the adult’s normally black head and slightly increased whites, clarity and contrast on the white body using an adjustment layer.


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:   Osprey with fish

Goal:   This is a mature (maybe 5-7 years old) male osprey living in the Big Cypress area of Everglades National Park. As you will no doubt note he has been banned for identification. This is done to many of the osprey that live in the park as part of a study to determine how the mercury content in the water is impacting their health. The osprey (commonly known as the fish hawk) is an avid fisher. He is shown here perched on a bald cypress tree. He was building a nest for the upcoming mating season but instead of bringing a stick to add to the nest he returned with this fish. For the record, osprey always eat the fish head first, and this behavior can be seen in the image. You may also note the arrangement of the talons. The osprey like most raptors has four long talons. However the osprey can rotate or swivel the two rear most talons so that when gripping a fish he can rotate the body of the fish so that it always faces front. This is the most aerodynamic position for flight. The talon on the far left of this frame is rotated to obtain this grip.

Equipment/Source:     Nikon D810 with Nikkor 200-400mm f4 lens with tc1.4. Camera on monopod with gimbal head. ISO 400, f5.6 1/1000. The RAW image was processed in Lighrtroom

Technique:   
I was looking for osprey nests so as to be able to capture images of the new generation of osprey that will be born in February. As osprey build their nest high in trees it is easy to use binoculars to watch them flying to the nest location with branches and then merely follow their flight direction until the nest is found. This just requires walking the shore line and watching for the birds. I chose this particular bird because his selected nest site was a bit lower than usually and I will have a better angle for watching the chicks grow up. I positioned myself with the wind blowing from behind me and the sun coming from camera left. Birds always land into the wind so from my position the bird would land flying toward me and I would be able to get the best camera angle. In this case I not only got the landing coming into my camera lens but I also had the best angle to watch him eat his lunch facing me.

Processing:    Post work required a bit of sharpening, bringing down the highlights so as to not lose detail in the whites and a bit of cropping. Due to cloudy skies, there were not excessively bright sky patches showing through the tree to ruin the shot. I prefer shooting this bird on cloudy days. I did a bit of dodging and burning to better bring out greater feather detail.

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.
A raptor with prey is always a strong nature story, but in this case, we can't tell what it caught and it isn't eating so it isn't obvious what is happening. Do you have images of the bird eating and/or the fish had a head so we could tell it was a fish. N2

Technically good. Good exposure, sharpness, and color. The white on the legs are not blown out. Good work. T3

Pictorially good. The background is out of focus and doesn’t distract. P3

N2, T3, P3 = 8


PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Fisher, Rich
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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: This is an interesting image that tells a story of the osprey wt a fish.  Not sure I can see a nest in the background.
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: The exposure and focus are good.  Colors look nature.  There is a bit of clutter in the background - it is not far enough away to be completely OOF.
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: The  image is strong though it might be improved if the background was less apparent (darker) and if you flip the image horizontally so the bird's eye was the left most portion of the bird.
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NATURE SCORE: 3 - Nature story strong
TECHNICAL SCORE: 3 - Excellent exposure, color balance and sharpness
PICTORIAL SCORE: 2 - Average composition and impact
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Total score: 8

PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Hill, Dennis
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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE:  Your efforts in carrying all that equipment and studying the birds habitat have resulted in a very good nature image of Osprey with fish.
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE:  Nice colour and feather detail on bird, eyes clear and sharp.  Fish has good colour and detail.
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE:  Image has good impact but I think it could be improved by cropping R/H side and rotating image.  Yellow spots lower R/H corner distracting.
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NATURE SCORE: 3 - Nature story strong
TECHNICAL SCORE: 3 - Excellent exposure, color balance and sharpness
PICTORIAL SCORE: 2 - Average composition and impact
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Total score: 8

PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Ramchandani, Ranjan
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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Nice portrait of an Osprey with it's catch.
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: technically the image seems to be O.K. From what I cans ee in the image your setting were perfect.
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: I love it as a portrait, but would have liked to see a bit more habitat around the bird. I like the fact that it's looking at you.
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NATURE SCORE: 2 - Nature story of average strength (portrait)
TECHNICAL SCORE: 3 - Excellent exposure, color balance and sharpness
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: wonderful shot; obviously you are an experienced nature photographer in terms of how and where you positioned yourself for the shot.  great action shot of bird eating its prey.
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: tack sharp in nearly entire image; great to see the catch-light in the bird's 2 eyes; otherwise color control and background not being distracting were real pluses.
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: very moving, well placed image.  your plans really paid off.
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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


PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Newlin, Susan
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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Good nature story of bird with its prey.
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Well-lit and well focused. You obviously waited for the bird to turn its head toward you and that is a more dramatic pose. Development is good and brings out details of feathers.  Background is somewhat distracting, but it is sufficiently out of focus that the bird stands out.
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Well-cropped and focused so that I can easily make out the action. Background isn't something you had much control over, yet it does detract a bit from the drama of the bird.
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NATURE SCORE: 3 - Nature story strong
TECHNICAL SCORE: 3 - Excellent exposure, color balance and sharpness
PICTORIAL SCORE: 2 - Average composition and impact
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Total score: 8

PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Finocchio, Bruce
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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: The fish adds to the nature story. Being that the head is been eaten, all speak of ospreys and their behavior, giving the nature story an additional element. The osprey has a bit of red meat on its beak, implying that it’s been eating, so one can infer eating behavior even though the osprey is not in the actual act of eating. 
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: All the technical elements of sharpness and exposure are good. I don’t see any technical deficiencies. There is excellent sharpness, and the beautiful light enhances the overall presentation. 	
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: My only qualm about this image is the background; it is too busy for my taste and artistry. For problem backgrounds, I usually select them and reduce the contrast on an adjustment layer. This has the effect of blurring them some and making them appear farther away as well as smooth or fading out noticeable patterns and objects. This is what I would try if the image was mine. On the bottom right side, there are two yellow objects, possibly flowers. I would tone these down by reducing the saturation and contrast, perhaps with an adjustment brush or a Nik Viveza control point. 
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NATURE SCORE: 3 - Nature story strong
TECHNICAL SCORE: 3 - Excellent 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: 8

I am retired and living the good life in south Florida.  I have always had a love affair with the wilderness and the natural world.  This naturally lead to an interest in photography to bring home memories from my adventures in the wilderness.  I have thus been involved in photography for more than 40 years and have worked as a semi-professional including work for the PGA and LPGA as well as shooting sports for various local colleges. 

My favorite photographic locations are Everglades National Park (the hardest place I’ve ever found to photograph), the Great Smoky Mountains and Rocky Mountain National Park.  That said, I will go anywhere to get a good image.  I enjoy shooting the Milky Way and the night sky, a real challenge, and I enjoy using long exposures.  

I have taught photography on the college level, belong to several local camera groups and have served as a photo judge at local clubs and for other local competitions.  Since retiring I have had several photographic exhibits in south Florida.

I am member of the online group called The Nikonians and shoot Nikon cameras currently using a D800 and D810.  While I have a collection of Nikon only lenses my favorites are my 24-70 and my baby, a 200-400 f4 beast that weighs 7.3 pounds.   My hiking buddy is my tripod that goes everywhere I do.