Study Group 2


LC Boros (A)

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JANUARY 2021 ROUND

Title:    Almost Fig Success
 
Goal:     To capture a ground squirrel behaving like an arboreal squirrel. 
Most people will look at this image and think, “yah so what, it’s a squirrel with a fig,” but this is not a tree-loving squirrel. It is a California Ground Squirrel — basically a small prairie dog and as such not known for its climbing abilities.

Background: we live on a small ranch in the Diablo Foothills and 90% of the images I capture are of the wildlife here at the ranch. (I have an entire website dedicated to documenting the some 70 different species of wildlife that share our land.) This image is part of a series I took documenting one very brave ground squirrel’s endeavor to obtain a fig from the ancient tree that sits north of the main house. It took him roughly five minutes to climb out to retrieve the fig and then get himself to safety. Considering a) we have Red-tails and Cooper’s in residence plus Kestrels and Sharpies; and b) I do have several blurry images of ground squirrels falling out of this tree trying to reach figs: this was no small feat of bravery.
 
Equipment/Source:     Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM @ 400mm.
ISO 1250, 1/1000s f/6.3
   
Technique:   Shot from my office through my as clean as possible window.

Processing:    Cropped from original with very slight work on the exposure and contrast. Then really pulled back on the background white point as originally the tree truck was pretty blown out. I intentionally cropped to have open space below the squirrel for it to possibly fall into as I think that helps highlight the precariousness of his position.

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 2020 ROUND
Title:     Gasteracantha cancriformis

Goal:   To get an in-focus shot of an orb weaver on its web while walking through the mangroves at Joan M. Durante Park, Longboat Key, FL. 

I got lucky and got one still spinning its web.
 

Equipment/Source:     Canon EOS 5D Mark II with EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM
ISO 200, 1/100s @f/4 and 105mm
Shot 5/13/2012
  
Technique:  Hand held while kneeling

Processing:   This is a rescued image of sorts as when looking for an image for this month I found it and realized it wasn’t a terrible shot, just underexposed. Thus I cropped it slightly and then increased/adjusted the exposure, contrast, brightness and saturation and then tweaked the shadow and highlight recovery.  

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.
You need to think as if you are in the shoes of someone viewing this image for the first time.  What do they see? They see a tiny something, probably a spider, in the middle of a big web but the image is dominated by the bright greenery behind it.  The spider is not big enough to see much detail so the image has little or no nature story.  Yes, it is in focus and exposed properly, but the subject is just too small.  And it would be much better if you had shot it from the side so you could see the spider sitting on the web, and made it bigger in the frame.

N1, T3, P1, E0 = 5


This Review is written by: Haru N.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
I like the direction and concept of the image.
But if I take a look at the image, I could not find more information about story of nature more than the knowledge on spiderweb. The spider is a bit too small to tell a story and you have large negative space. So In terms of nature story, it would not be rated high.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Good sharpness on the main subject vs reasonably good level of blurriness in the back ground. Too bad that the spider is on the green leaf at the background, which is unfortunate. I feel the background is a bit too bright getting the direct sun light, which distract my eye.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
As I said, I like the concept itself very much. I feel you could not execute well enough to make it work.
Move few steps aside to make background dark side, step closer to make the spider bigger or use a different lens, crop tight to reduce the negative space, etc.. You could have done a lot of trial to make the image stronger in my view.
But nice try! I like your split!

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

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

EXTRA POINT 0-No extra point

TOTAL SCORE 6


This Review is written by: Andy H

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Your description tells me there is a story but a judge would not have that luxury unless you were clever with the title.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Well exposed, good DOF. The image is sharp but the subject is quite small in the image.
The greens are quite saturated and I would tone them down.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The composition is fi= ne to capture the area of web but results in a very small subject. I don't see the impact of this image.

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: Natalie M

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
I would classify this as more of an environmental portrait, as the subject is too small in the frame to see the story unfolding.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Sharpness and colour seem adequate.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Unfortunately the impact is lost here because the subject is just too small in the frame. A completely clear background would have helped, but we all know this isn't always possible in nature photography.

NATURE SCORE 2-Nature sto ry of av erage 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: Dennis H

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Good story showing spider spinning its web in a natural setting.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
A little difficult to see detail on spider due to its size. Web construction has good definition.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Image could be improved by cropping r/h side. Highlights detract a little from image.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Av erage composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 7


This Review is written by: Robert D

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Terrific scene but the main focus is perhaps less than 1% of the area. I know the web is an important component but the background dominates so much that it is distracting.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I suggest getting closer to the spider with either a macro lens or lens extenders. Then choose a very dark and defocussed background. Place th spider somewhere on the rule of thirds and use a very shallow depth of field. Flash may help a lot.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Not a wall hanger

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: Bruce F

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
The entire web shows very well. The viewer sees the pattern and the spider in the center. However, the spider is so small within the frame. I am surprised you identified the species. I am puzzled that you could even see that it was still spinning its web. It is not obvious from the image, even in the enlarged version. I want to see more, see its eyes. Spiders have fascinating eyes. The small size of the subject dilutes the impact of the image and lowers the value of the nature story. To my mind, the spid er’s web and its design are the primary nature story and not the spider itself.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Exposure is adequate. The lighting is good and falls on the spider in the middle of the web, illuminating the subject. The sharpness of the spider is also acceptable. The dark brown color of most of the background sets off the white silk of the spider’s web well.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
If this were my image, I would have bent the green foliage out of the way during the shooting. Or found an angle of view where they would not show up in the image. Even though they are blurry and out-focus, their color, that lime green, is very distracting for the mind. The mind is pulled away from the web and the spider by this vivid color. If the entire background was just dark brown, the visual components of the image would be simplified. There would be fewer distractions, the image would be cleaner, simpler. Also, I would d arken down all the lighter brown streaks in post-processing so most of them would match the top one that leads to the top of the frame. Overall, I would also reduce the contrast of the entire background; this would help it recede from the web and spider, giving greater separation between the subject and the background, creating better visual clarity.

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: Rich F

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Interesting image of spider and web. The details of the spider are hard for me determine - looks like a dark spider and a tan colored prey.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Well exposed, good job recovering the image. The web is sharp and well exposed.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The bright background behind the web is very distracting. I would have darkened the foliage and bright tan areas behind th web.

NATURE SCORE 2-Nature story of average s trength (portrait)

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 6

LC’s (aka Stega to her friends) interest in photography started in a high school art class, but it wasn’t until she moved west to California and purchased a DSLR that she became somewhat serious about it.  

In a valley far below where she lives now, she was once a network engineer and technical trainer. Retired from that world she is now a working voice actor who also manages a small ranch in the foothills of the Diablo range. There she prefers to do as much gardening with her excavator and as much in camera as possible. Primarily taking photos of birds and other wildlife with the occasional flower, piece of heavy machinery or interesting bit of architecture tossed into the general morass of ranch documentation photos means her struggles with web publishing, crafting coherent essays and digital asset management are real.