Study Group 2

Mike Patterson

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Title:    Ducks on parade 

Goal:   Capture a good nature story image.  

Canon T2i, 55-250 mm lens. Shot at 250mm, ISO800 due to shadows and dim light, f/11 at 1/160 second.  

Spotted this parade of adult and juvenile Merganser ducks floating along a narrow mountain stream high in the mountains of Carson National Forest in Northern New Mexico. Followed them along the creek.   

Processing:    Lightroom. Adjusted to increase exposure and reduced highlights to remove white hot spots. Sharpened and increased contrast and clarity.

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Title:   Confusion
Goal:  To capture an interesting shot of Sandhill Cranes

Equipment/Source:  Canon Rebel

Technique:   Spotted these cranes near Bosque del Apache in New Mexico. I enjoyed how the group appeared confused about which way they wanted to go.

Processing:   Minor adjustments and sharpening in Lightroom.

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

    Critique Image or respond to a critique (only members of Study Group Two may critique this image)

Review by commentator Dan C.

The image is nicely arranged. It does appear a bit underexposed but that could be due to the differences between the brightness setting of my computer and the brightness setting of your computer. Try double-checking the brightness range of your monitor with a greyscale target and adjust the monitor brightness to maximize the number of zones you can detect.  If you cannot get all the zones, be sure you can see the zones closest to white.

Your story is not very strong.  It does show flocking but not much more about their behavior.  Your title does fit the image with one of the cranes looking backwards.

Those familiar with Bosque know the field is human planted corn but that is generally ignored in the Bosque shots since it is a classic example of wildlife adapting to an environment modified by humans.

N1, T2, P3, E0, Total 6

Review by Andy H.
ou achieved your goal and captured a nice group of cranes. The image is well exposed , sharp here necessary and a good DOF. There is a lack of impact for me and this could be because of the colour needs some punch or the need for more contrast. In these types of images I do like to see some separation between the subjects. Here you have a situation where the central bird appears to have two heads and once Ive seen this its difficult not to be drawn to it.
N-3, T-3, P-2, E-0, Total-8

Review by Michael B.
- Nature Story: “Confusion” is a great title! Not a lot of action or behavior in this image.
- Technical Quality: I would love to know your camera settings. The image seems to be a bit underexposed; increasing exposure or bumping up the shadows would place more emphasis on the cranes heads. DoF seems to be very shallow allowing the background to be less of the focus of the image and the main subject to be tack sharp. Color and saturation are excellent. DoF allowed for you to ensure sharpness in your subject and also blur the background and waves just enough.
- Pictorial Quality: Composition seems static; wonder if you had made this a pano crop with negative space on the left and right would make the image have more impact? This would add to the overall ‘confusion’ of the image and give the viewer and impression the cranes were looking for something in each direction. A point to consider: the two cranes in the middle appear to be one bird with two heads; you have four legs, however the body seems to have two perfectly placed neck/heads attached to it.
N-2, T-2, P-1, E-0, Total-5

Review by Bogdan B.
Interesting birds! I would crop the image a little bit more to get rid of an edge on the top. A think the whole image is too bright, the grass in front maibe overexposed. The confusion with bird "with two heads" is not very good to me. I don't see an eye sharp. The sharpest are some feathers. 
N-2, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-6

Review by Dennis H.
Interesting capture of sandhill cranes. Centre pair appear to be joined at the neck. Image appears a little soft. Nice background.
N-3, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-7

Review by Suman B.
Cranes eyes are not very clear due to the highlight of the background. just doesn't pop as it lacks the timing. centre cranes two heads for one body could have been a good nature story but again the timing is not right. also the choice of focal lenght is making the picture not right. allowing all the elements in the field makes the viewer confusing in choosing the right story.
hence N-1, T-1, P-1, E-0, TOTAL 3

Review by Bruce F.
I think there is some humor, but that does overcome the mergers in this image. The one in the middle appears to have two heads; this crane also mergers with the neck of the one behind it.

There appears to be a sharpness issue. You don’t give the lens information, nor the type of lens. It’s throughout the image, so it might be an inferior lens problem. Some blotches between the birds in foreground like you were shooting through something, and later did some cloning to remove the distracting foreground elements.

I would say this one is for you, since you like it. Not the best image that can be made at Bosque Del Apache of Sandhill cranes. I am sure you have something better from there. 
N-1, T-1, P-1, E-0, Total-3

I am happily retired after a career in journalism and the non-profit sector. I reside in San Antonio but spend about half my time at our family’s small ranch in the Texas Hill Country where we raise angora goats, sheep and rocks. We have ample whitetail deer, wild turkey, a variety of songbirds, an occasional coyote or two and many wildflowers and native grasses to photograph.

I’ve been photographing most of my life but am finally able to devote more time to increasing my skill. A lot of my photography is of ranch and livestock scenes. However, I’m interested in pure nature photography, especially landscapes, and these are the shots I’ll be posting to this study group.

My wife and I travel a bit, primarily to the Southwest and West, which is where I especially enjoy shooting. My equipment is definitely on the budget end – a Canon Rebel and several different Canon lenses and filters. I process everything in Lightroom.

The study group can be very beneficial to me by seeing and learning from the excellent work of others as well as the insightful comments and critiques about my own photos.