Nature Study Group 2


LC Boros (A)

Click image to enlarge

Upload Next Round's Image and Description
JANUARY 2022 ROUND
Title:     Bored Out of My Mind

Goal:   To capture an ungainly Red-Footed Booby fledgling doing something other than sleeping while waiting for its parents to return with dinner. This fledgling was just starting to get his/her first batch of feathers (you can see its flight feathers are almost all in and those things that look like black dots are the feather casings of contour feathers.) Feather casings are a source of irritation and itchy-ness and this youngster was continually preening and scratching. While it was large enough it no longer wanted to hang around its fetid nest, it still had 5-7 days before it was ready to leave the nest tree and start shadowing its parents.

(If you are trouble orientating, his/her head is indeed upside down.)

Equipment/Source:   Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with my old Canon EF 100-400 lens (Image was taken April 2019)

Technique:  Hand held from standing: looking up at the scrub trees that line the Booby Pond on Little Cayman.

Processing:   Cropped, adjusted base highlights/shadows. Then a selective mask to dampen down ever so slightly the bright bit of visible sky behind and to the right of the subject.

Score this image: YES

Comments/Scores (N, T, P, E, Total)

   Critique Image (only members of Study Group Two may critique this image)



Upload Next Round's Image and Description
DECEMBER 2021 ROUND

Title:    siblings...sigh

Goal:     I'm back from my epic solo 5500 mile cross country trip to assist my parents by de-hoarding their basement. Didn't shoot much other than the dead fish in October, so when I was going back through a catalog for a non-PSA reason, and found a collection of Barn Owlet images I took long ago and never did anything with, I decided to play around a bit and show some of their interactions.


This particular image was taken on a hot August day just as they were close to being completely fledged. In the dark and narrow nest space between the stall ceilings and hay loft platform they were restless and antsy -- alternating between spreading out across the entire space and then puddling into a single mass of beaks and fluff. All of them were on the lookout for the return of their parents and the one second from left was trying to catch a glimpse of them through the cracks in the boards, much to the annoyance of its sibling on the far left.

Equipment/Source:     
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with my old 100-400 @ 235mm. It was very dark as the nesting area is only about 10" high. ISO 12800 at 1/100s f/5.6.
   
Technique:  
I was standing atop the wheels of my skid steer as the crevice/platform is about 10' up and I'm not a tall person. The owlets were pretty used to us visiting the barn as during the summer months we in there pretty often since that's where the tractors and other heavy machinery are stored.

Processing:    
I pushed it through Topaz Sharpen to start before altering any levels or applying any filters to see what resulted, and while Topaz did "flatten" the levels, CaptureOne was more than capable of working with the resulting image. (I've usually worked the other way around.) Cropped to remove the top edge of a long white wooden board and a ton of owl pellets. After the crop I dropped in a soft gradient mask to darken the upper left a smidge.

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.
Nature Story:
Based on your description of the situation, I’d say that this is a strong case of, “Human elements shall not be present, except where those human elements are integral parts of the nature story such as nature subjects, like barn owls or storks, adapted to an environment modified by humans, or where those human elements are in situations depicting natural forces, like hurricanes or tidal waves.” These wild animals have definitely adapted themselves to a modified environment. This is a strong story. I would like to see their feet (and perhaps some pellets) as I think it would add to the story. Excellent capture.

Technical Quality:
You did a good job under difficult shooting conditions. Nothing is blown out or too black. The feathers are acceptably sharp, and the color looks true.

Pictorial Quality:
I love all these little eyes looking at me. In your description, you say the birds are not in a nest, but walking along a board. In that case, I think you could have made this stronger by showing us their feet. It is a charming and amusing image.

N – 3; T – 2; P – 2 = 7


PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Stover, Heide
- -: - - - - - - - - - -
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: The owls do look sharp.  The hodge podge of the owls together is something that they do and barns have become their habitit so the image does show them as they actually live in the wild.
I am wondering if taking the shot from a little more to the right may have helped to get more than just the beak of the one bird, or just waiting for a bit to see if they would spread out a little, would have helped the image.

- -: - - - - - - - - - -
TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: The owls look sharp and I feel that the exposure is okay.  
Maybe lighten up the eyes for a little more detail.
- -: - - - - - - - - - -
PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: I would like to see a little more below the owls to see what they are sitting on.  I feel that this would help tell
more of the story than having the birds cropped off. I understand that this may not have been possible with the angle you were shooting at.
- -: - - - - - - - - - -
NATURE SCORE: 2 - Nature story of average strength (portrait)
TECHNICAL SCORE: 2 - Average exposure
PICTORIAL SCORE: 2 - Average composition and impact
Extra Point awarded: 0 - No extra point
- -: - - - - - - - - - -
Total score: 6

PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Venter, Francois
- -: - - - - - - - - - -
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: The various characters in this nest is amazing. Love you see the personalities an hou they live. This is truly and exceptional thing to see.
- -: - - - - - - - - - -
TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: For the amount of edition that was done and the ISO12800 I would say the image quality is excellent
- -: - - - - - - - - - -
PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Compositionall it is great. there is the nice play between lots of open space on the one side and a heap of owls on the other side
- -: - - - - - - - - - -
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: 1 - Exceptional
- -: - - - - - - - - - -
Total score: 10

PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Roberts, Lillian
- -: - - - - - - - - - -
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: I love the story in the images and your description.  It looks like you had a ladder set up, or some other way to get at eye level and it sounds like you were able to watch them throughout their time in the "nest."  Barn owls are very appealing creatures, easy for the viewer to engage.  I would not have known what the one trying to look through the cracks was doing, if you hadn't told me.  So although he "is" the story, I'm not sure the story comes through as well as you hoped.  To me, a more relatable story would have had at least one eye from each owlet was visible as they peered out from the nest.  I suspect you already have several like that, so I'm just saying that the story here doesn't work as well for this viewer without having your story and description behind it.
- -: - - - - - - - - - -
TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: It's perfectly exposed and appropriately sharp, with plenty of detail.
- -: - - - - - - - - - -
PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: I feel a need for more space below, though I understand why you cropped it as you did.  Aside from that, I miss seeing the eye(s) of at least the owlet behind the wing.
- -: - - - - - - - - - -
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: 0 - No extra point
- -: - - - - - - - - - -
Total score: 7

PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Yang, Charlie
- -: - - - - - - - - - -
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Overall, I'm glad  that you have some stocking of owlets in your HD.
Next, look the image a while, still didn't make out of what that obstruction is and was, or what's that suppose to do. 
Capture owlets is already a plus in itself as wildlife/nature photographer. To go further in this instance, there's need to be some forthright obvious what the intend of the image. While I puzzle, this need to be worked on further it purpose.
- -: - - - - - - - - - -
TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: while review your image, and capture setting, wonder if it would be better to de-noise the image first, than sharpen, I'd like to hear some comments from our Commentators (Rick, Tom, Jan) or discussion to enlighten this topics.
  It is very sharp and properly lighted on the left half of the image, However, right half would be nice to get a tad brighten to show the cute face, especially the one in the middle. Those eyes of owlets are really the gems of the image, in my opinion.

- -: - - - - - - - - - -
PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Continue of that thought, pondering if the image would be more powerful and impactful, just present the left half, include the little owlet in the middle. 
Otherwise, I might pick other images that doesn't have the so call 'naughty' elements in there, which in this case, really not add points to the image. Your thought?
- -: - - - - - - - - - -
NATURE SCORE: 2 - Nature story of average strength (portrait)
TECHNICAL SCORE: 2 - Average exposure
PICTORIAL SCORE: 2 - Average composition and impact
Extra Point awarded: 0 - No extra point
- -: - - - - - - - - - -
Total score: 6

PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Treadwell, Larry
- -: - - - - - - - - - -
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Generally, the hand of man is not allowed to be visible in Nature images however PSA rules specifically allow barn owls to be photographed in a barn.  While the barn is ok in this instance, be careful about the hand of man in future images.  While every image has some type of story I do not feel that this carries a high level story.  What you have basically here is just birds on a perch. They may be cute, but there is no interaction and thus no story.
- -: - - - - - - - - - -
TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Technically the image is adequately exposed and quite sharp as you have captured a great deal of the downy feathers.  I will note that you pushed the limits of your gear by using such a high ISO, a wide open aperture and a very slow shutter speed.  You were fortunate that all your subjects came out in clear focus.  I will laud the fact you handled your gear so well.  That is well done.
- -: - - - - - - - - - -
PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: The composition is quite ordinary but may be all that is possible under the stated conditions.  There is little that you can change and my only suggestion is a bit of a nit picking.  You might consider cropping up from the bottom to remove the blurred object on the bottom on the left 
- -: - - - - - - - - - -
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
- -: - - - - - - - - - -
Total score: 7

PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Smith, Jodi
- -: - - - - - - - - - -
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: This is a strong nature story of the owlets ready to fledge, anxiously awaiting the return of their parents. 
- -: - - - - - - - - - -
TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: The colors are stunning, and the owlets are tack sharp. I'm impressed with the sharpness of the features, particularly given your high ISO. Your application of Denoise is quite impressive, as I do not see any evidence of the high ISO>
- -: - - - - - - - - - -
PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Excellent composition and lighting. The picture is engaging. I wanted to just keep looking at all of the aspects of the birds in their conglomeration of feathers and beaks. 
- -: - - - - - - - - - -
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: 1 - Exceptional
- -: - - - - - - - - - -
Total score: 10

PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Sarkar, Pinaki
- -: - - - - - - - - - -
NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: As far as I am concerned this is a nature image. I am not a purist.
- -: - - - - - - - - - -
TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Looks like the Topaz Software is very impressive. The photo does look sharp, even with the detail in the bird feathers. There is also catchlight on the eyes of the birds. Good Work.
- -: - - - - - - - - - -
PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: I like the color tones and various shades of muted colors of the photo. Beautiful photo.
- -: - - - - - - - - - -
NATURE SCORE: 2 - Nature story of average strength (portrait)
TECHNICAL SCORE: 2 - Average exposure
PICTORIAL SCORE: 2 - Average composition and impact
- -: - - - - - - - - - -
Total score: 7

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.