Study Group 2

Mike Patterson

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Title:   Hoodoo sunrise
Goal:  To capture the first sunlight hitting the red gravel pillars at Bryce Canyon National Park. I was very impressed by the drama and beauty of the first light. This particular scene attracted me because the sun hitting the lighter colored formations make it appear as if it is glowing.

Equipment/Source:  Canon t2i, canon kit lens

Technique:   Set up tripod and shot at 96 mm at f8, 1/320 second, iso 800.  

Processing:   Minimal adjustments in Lightroom

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

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Review by Andy H.
Beautiful scene. You achieved your goal. The colours do look like the rocks are glowing. I might have reduced the ISO as you had spare shutter speed. I don't know what else is around this image but I would like to open up the image to see more. The top crop is a little tight and the crop on the left should either move back away from the stack or trim into the stack.Technically looks fine to me.
N-2, T-2, P-3, E-0, Total-7

Review by Dennis H.
I like the way you've captured the sunlight illuminating some of the pillars. Nice detail and colours.
N-3, T-2, P-3, E-0, Total-8

Review by Maria K
Very nice image. good exposure and composition with lighter part framed by darker. To me photo appears to be a bit soft. Maybe you can fix it in post by local contrast and sharpness.
N-3, T-2, P-3, E-0, Total-8

Review by Bogdan B.
I like these glowing pillars too. You really caught the right moment and place. I would prefer a little bit wider view (not so central) and some more DOF. With tripod you should set smaller aperture and ISO and decrease shutter speed.
N-3, T-2, P-3, E-0, Total-8

Review by commentator Dan C.

I often say it is not easy providing a good nature story with landscape images but the dramatic sunrise lighting do provide that story here.

Your sharpness and composition are good.  The lighting does appear a bit redder than natural but sunrise and sunset lighting is an uncontrolled variable.  I admit I am basing my comment on the color on my own sunrises at Bryce but also admit that under the right conditions the colors could be very accurate.  I did use the Auto Color adjustment as a “What If” and have included it for comparison.  Either rendition could be true and valid so I see no real reason to change your version.  

N2, T3, P3, E0, Total 8

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Title:  Eagle eyes over the Bosque

Goal:   I arrived at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in south central New Mexico before dawn. About 200 yards away I spotted this bald eagle at the top of a tree in the shallows of a lake. Below him on the trunk were grackles. The sun was just creating a pinkish aura around the sky when I shot this photo. The challenge was that the light was extremely dim and the distance was very far even for a telephoto lens.

Shot with a Canon T2i rebel, using a 200-500 mm Tamron lens mounted on a tripod. The actual photo was shot at 500 mm at an ISO of 1600, 1/60 second at f8.

Mounted the camera and lens on a tripod standing on an observation deck along the shores of a lake at Bosque del Apache. It was cold, requiring gloves, hat and down jacket. The dim light also made focusing more difficult.

Processing:  Processed in Lightroom CC. Had to lighten the exposure and the shadows to bring out more details of the dark feathers. Also sharpened and removed ISO noise.

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

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Review by Butch S.
This is a very interesting image. I wonder what interest grackles would have other than there is food very near or the tree is used as a roost. From a technical standpoint, I see noise in the background. Should be easy to fix using PS denoting tools in Camera Raw and Lightroom. Also, I would like to see the eagle's head feathers brightened up a bit.
N-3, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-7

Review by Louise H.
The eagle looks very majestic on the top of the tree branch. The breaking dawn colors are very complimentary to the image. I like the other birds as well adds variety nice capture
N-2, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-6

Review by Manu R.
It is a very nice setting with a nicely shaped perch, bald eagle at the top and other birds below. On the other hand with shutter speed at 60 and subjects far away the quality of the image got affected.The perch is in Focus compared to the birds. Pixelation is evident probably due to high ISO and processing.Given the conditions still it is a good attempt to capture the beauty of the scene.
N-2, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-6

Review by commentator Rick C.

I think you did an excellent job on the exposure for this image between your capture and the post processing adjustment. You also have a strong and effective composition with the tree leading to the eagle which acts as our visual stopper. The colors going from a small band of cool at the bottom to the warm magentas and back to cool s visually pleasing (at least to me). If you look at the channels you will see that there is some residual noise in the Red channel where the blue tones are and in the Green channel. I don’t think that is a major problem. That said, I’m not sure what your process was for removing noise initially, but I feel that it hit your tree and eagle far too hard, reducing the detail in them beyond what would be desirable, particularly if you tried making a fair size print of this. Very often when doing noise reduction, you should do it in a manner that lets you block the effect where you need detail. In this case I think Lightroom was the wrong place although you could try smoothing the sky and then hitting the image with high sharpening and using the Masking slider to take all of the sharpening out of the smooth areas.

N-2, T-3, P-2, E-1 = 8 (N-2 A very natural environmental portrait of the eagle. Without some interaction between the grackles and the eagle it doesn’t rise to the behavior level. P-2 We just lost a little too much detail in the tree and eagle to have it carry as it stands. E-1 I added the bonus point because this has excellent impact and hold you interest well until you look closely enough to see the detail issue. The color palette is super.)

Review by Eran P.  3-31
I like the positioning of the Eagle above the other birds. The Eagle it's self is a little blurred, but overall the image is interesting.
N-3, T-3, P-1, E-0, Total-7


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.