Study Group 2


Louis Paley - (D)

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JULY 2021 ROUND
Title:   Red Milkweed Beetles Mating
     
Goal:   to capture these 5/8" x 1/8" beetles in action. Very close to where I live in Maryland we have some swampy land where the swamp milkweed grow. The first "mating couple" which I tried to photograph were on a vertical stem, and every time I moved into position to get a clear shot with good lighting the pair moved out of sight on the other side of the stem. I must have tried to reposition my camera at least 5 times, but they kept moving away -- perhaps they wanted their "privacy". I finally gave up and continued looking for a mating pair when I came upon these. I positioned myself with the sun over my shoulder and moved within about 2-3". By the way, I read an interesting wildlife photographer's tips recently and he made the point that with today's modern cameras, one should ALWAYS shoot with an ISO of 800 or above so that you are more likely to catch their action in dim lighting and because many of them are constantly on the move. In this case you will see that the high ISO allowed me to shoot with a very high shutter speed to catch the action.

Equipment/Source:   Sony Cybershot RX10 IV [built-in lens of 24-600, 2.4-4.0 lens]; settings of: Aperture Priority, F5.6, 1/4000, ISO 800, 30.5mm, EV -0.3, and multi-point focus.

Technique:   hand-held within a few inches and at their eye-level with the sun over my shoulder.

Processing:   LR 6 used to crop it and to adjust the shadows

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 Rick C.
The nature story is clear and reflects behavior well enough to warrant the 3 rating.

While not unreasonable, I feel the bright background has left you slightly under exposed. Using the Camera Raw Filter Basic panel and holding down the shift key you see the slider names change to “auto” and the name. Double click on the exposure, white and black names to adjust the image to a more effective tonal range. I don’t think the advice in that column was bad, but I also don’t think it applies universally to all cameras. My recommendation would be to take your camera out and shoot a subject at multiple iso settings and then examine them to see when the noise for your camera becomes an issue. In this case there is noticeable noise in the smooth background and still a bit of motion blur in the beetles (I suspect more from the movement of your hands than the beetles and yes, you can get camera shake at 1/4000). Both are quickly addressed in something like Topaz Sharpen AI on the motion setting and auto. The technical rating is a 2 as there is some simple clean up left to do.

Your framing is effective and shows the story well. The background is handled well and does not compete with the subject. The pictorial rating is a 3.

N-3, T-2, P-3 = 8


This Review is written by: Larry T

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
For me there is a solid nature story of the beetles mating. You may have been forced to invade their privacy but your efforts have been rewarded. The story is enhanced by the camera position you have adopted and the fact that we get to see their faces.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
With modern cameras there is no reason for fear using higher ISO settings especially if the exposure is correct. As you noted it has been suggested that using the high ISO allows for faster shutter speeds which is critical for sharpness. Viewed in the enlarged format there maybe a slight bit of sharpness missing on the edge of the leaf being grasped by the beetle on the right but it is extremely minor and does not detract from the image. The background is managed quite well and thus creates a pleasing image. Personally, I might have opted for perhaps a slightly slower shutter 1/3200 and increasing the aperture to obtain greater DOF, but what you have seems to have worked.
The technical aspect is a 3


PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The composition is well balanced and the use of the complimentary colors of red and green created impact and eye appeal. The natural browns used for the background not only set of the beetles but introduce a strong feeling of nature to the image. I could nit-pic about the slightly crowded feeling of the antennae in the upper left but I feel this is a maker’s choice and works well enough for this image. Pictorial quality is a 3

I will award the extra point for creating a most visually pleasing image.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 3-Excellent composition and impact

EXTRA POINT 1-Exceptional

TOTAL SCORE 10


This Review is written by: Pinaki S.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
This is very good macro nature photo. I love this image and I truly understand the tremendous amount of patience, determination and work in general was done to get this image. Nice work.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
ISO 800 is good idea and something I learned. Though I try to shoot in manual mode with auto ISO. However, with today’s tech setting limit of 3200 might work for some people, unless of course the need to shoot is for enlarging the photo massively.

P ICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Macro shots are very difficult. I really love this stunning photo on such a difficult subject to photograph. Congratulations. Why EV -0.3. I felt that the image is little to dark ( personal preference) , then again is EV -0.3 was necessary , would increasing the brightness a little helped ?

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 8


This Review is written by: Bogdan B

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Nature story is good.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I would prefer higher DOF to see all eyes sharp. I think, that shutter 1/2000 or 1/1000 would still be good for sharp image.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Crop should be positioned up and left to get less unsharp leaf.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

EXTRA POINT 0-No extra point

TOTAL SCORE 7


This Review is written by: Adrian B

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Clear nature storey - well done.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
They are nice and sharp, plus well positioned so we can see both clearly. The only issue is the white are on the leave edge. That needs more Lr work as it’s the brightest area of the image. I have to deduct 1 here, but overall it’s v good and will give the extra bonus point.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Very pleasing. Square crop is sensible, but I suggest you look at cropping a bit off the bottom to show less leaf

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 3-Excellent composition and impact

EXTRA POINT 1-Exceptional

TOTAL SCORE 9


This Review is written by: LC B.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Sex does always sell and thus you have a good strong story.


TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
While the story is strong, technically I think this image is a bit off. The depth of field is super short and thus detail is lost especially on the face of the beetle on the right


PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I don’t think the square crop really works for this image. If possible you might want to try a portrait crop and give the bugs a bit more head space.

Example: https://stega.org/Other-Files/PSA/July-2021-Paley.png

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 1-Inadequate composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 6


This Review is written by: Suman B.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
no Louis actually there are two things happening. one if you shoot with anything lesser than a 180mm lens chances are it spots you and is afraid. two if you are using outside strong light to get good depth its the light which actually dries them up and their mating fluid for which they want the shadows. I advise you since I have a pretty good harvest of bug shots myself. nature story wise I would opt for something that clearly shows what they are doing! They may be climbing on top of the other which they often does to reach the food or for getting better mates.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
you need to have lesser shutter speeds as they are not moving at fast pace. instead increase depth as is missing as I find the eyes are slightly out of focus. use diffused lighting. the itsy bitsy reflections are showing my friend. but it's a good start!

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I would opt for a parallel shot to the film plain. That would give you much depth as well as good melting background

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



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JUNE 2021 ROUND

Title:   Handsome Devil Snapping Turtle

Goal:  to capture this huge snapping turtle crawling through the tall grass and woody area towards a nearby pond.
 
Equipment/Source:   Sony RX10 IV with its 24-600 built-in lens (F2.4 to 4.0)
 
Technique:  Hand-held, crouching on my knees in the woody area; settings of: Shutter Priority, 1/500, F7.1, ISO 320, 62 (equiv) mm, with eye detection ON.

Processing: 
 Used LR6 to crop, sharpen & adjust colors

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 Rick C.
Definitely a big one. It may well be a female as it is the right time of year and she would have moved away from the pond to lay her eggs and so could be returning from that. It would have been even stronger had you been able to get a couple steps to your right to get more of a profile once it started moving again. Since we can’t see any definitive behavior, the shot remains at the portrait level and a rating of 2 for me.

The basic capture is good. There is a lot of contrast, but that isn’t surprising given the strong sunlight. There might be a little room to sharpen the eye a bit more, but general sharpness looks good. Your gear isn’t going to give you the ability to blow out the background, so I feel you did well holding things to this level of a zone of sharpness. The technical rating is a 3 for me.

It is a little centered compositionally and that foreground has enough bright bits that I would be inclined to crop rather than try to burn it in, Overall, cropping to more of a panel presentation would also improve the visual feel of the image by making it a bit less static. The pictorial rating for me is a 2.

N-2, T-3, P-2 = 7


This Review is written by: Rajdeep B.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Though a turtle, it is not clear whether there is hand of man involved or not. This may very well be a pet.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Saturation, sharpness, focus etc are apt in my view. If head of the turtle was visible, it would have been better.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The description of the submitted would have matched if part of the pond was visible along with the turtle.

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

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 1-Inadequate composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 6


This Review is written by: Adrian B

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Hello Louis. Its challenging getting a nature story for this type of creature as they are so rarely seen doing anything. This is just a portrait.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
There is too much shade on the left side of its face which you should be able to brighten in Lightroom (trust tool to just work on areas needed). You could brighten a bit other shady areas too - I think that will improve your image so the viewer has more to look at.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
There is not much of inte rest to hold the viewer's attention.

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: LC B.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
An interesting portrait shot at the snapper’s nose in the air. No strong story, but seeing one outside of their typical underwater environment is a bit novel.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Over all the image is sharp, but the DoF is so large all that in-focus grass is a big distraction. Selective dodge/burning to focus more on the subject and dampen down all that green is one way to alleviate this.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Placing the turtle dead center in the fr ame with nothing else does create a good portrait, but there is no sense of drama, movement or story. One way to ease this would be to crop to a more standard rectangular ratio and place the turtle in the upper quadrant so that it appears to be moving downward to the opposite corner and thus toward the viewer.


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: Nirmalya B.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Crawling turtle is kind of "Here I am" shot and the story line is weak.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
As there was no other instinctive activity, a closer shot could have added visual pleasure without disturbing the turtle.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
In my suggestion cropping of fore ground could have increase the focus on the subject than surrounding.

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

T ECHNICAL 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: Bogdan B

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Interesting portrait. I would prefer a little bit higher position to see more face.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The turtle is sharp enough. Less DOF would make the grasses in front less sharp.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I would crop some grasses in front and background.

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: Suman B.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
portrait shot basically with not much data to be gathered from environment of its behaviour.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
moderately sharp and needs more detail in the shadoes

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
pictorially a side angle parallel to the animal may be preferred

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

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition a nd impact

EXTRA POINT 0-No extra point

TOTAL SCORE 6

I am a retired environmental engineer and worked for the US EPA for over 25 years.  For the past eight years my wife and I have lived in a retirement community in Silver Spring, MD, USA.  Upon moving there I took a basic digital photo class and fell in love with photography as a hobby. 

After three years I decided to up my game by purchasing my first DSLR , long lenses, etc. and began concentrating on USA wildlife photography, primarily birds.  I began using Sony mirrorless cameras (a6000 & a6500); multiple zoom lenses including Sigma 100-400 and 150-600s with tripod with gimbal head, etc.  Then my right should gave out and the doctor told me to lighten the load.  I will now shoot with a Sony “bridge” camera, the Cyber-shot RX10 IV (24-600mm zoom). 

I shoot only in RAW format and use Windows PCs with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6for editing and cataloguing approximately 8,000 images.