Study Group 2

Mike Patterson

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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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Title:   Building storm, Northern New Mexico
Goal:  To capture storm clouds building at sunset over mountains near Taos, NM

Equipment/Source:   Rebel T2i, 55mm lens

Technique:   Drove out to the prairie near sunset and found the clouds billowing over the mountains just as the last light hit them. Shot at ISO 1600, f/13 at 1/80 second.

Processing:   Minor adjustments in Lightroom.

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

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Review by Bruce F.

Great photography is a meeting of the observant photographer with a moment in time that has superb lighting. Photography is writing with light. That’s why sunsets and sunrises images can just be spectacular. During these times light is soft, warm, low, and directional. Without the harsh direct lighting and deep shadows that occur when the sun is overhead. In this image the light in the sky is excellent, and it’s the light that makes this image. The hills with some snow are bathed in this beautiful warm light. I like that you empathized the sky by making it the greatest area of the image. The hills make a good base for the image. My only thought is this image is pretty flat with its two layers—hills and the sky. I wonder if you could have found a leading line or perhaps a s-curve within the foreground to give the image more depth and a more a three dimension quality. If you are going to enter this image in some future nature competition, you’ll need a better nature title that focuses on the cloud types and or the clear storm clouds. Right now, emphasis is on the pictorial elements of the story.  
N-2, T-3, P-2, E-0, Total-7

Review by Bogdan B.
I like yellow clouds and blue sky. I would prefere sharp mountains. The clouds are never very sharp anyway.
It seems, that ISO is too high, so the image is a little bit noisy. I would prefere that more mountains would be on the photo.
N-2, T-1, P-2, E-0, Total-5

Review by Les L.
I'm unable to determine the point of interest in this photo or a real nature story. I think the technically it has good exposure, color balance and focus. 
N-1, T-3, P-1, E-0, Total-5

Review by Dennis H.
I like the colours in this landscape image.
Would crop foreground to remove what appear to be buildings.
N-1, T-3, P-2, E-0, Total-6

Review by Andy H.
I like this image, the tones are stunning. Good DOF and exposure. In post production I might have lightened the foreground area a little and cropped the top to bring up the horizon. Other than that just a great image.
N-2, T-2, P-3, E-0, Total-7

Review by Maria K-L
This is very nice landscape. The composition with ¾ of sky supports very well the image story.
Light is beautiful. The lighter cloud near the top edge balances very nicely other clouds and adds interest to the image. I am not sure how to judge landscape story but for me story here is strong.
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-0, Total-9

Review by Commentator Dan C.

It is not easy providing a good nature story with landscape images but the lighting and clouds combined to provide that story here.

I do wish it were a bit sharper on the mountain range.  That softness might have been introduced by noise reduction if that was included in you minor adjustments in Lightroom.  If that was the case, selectively removing the noise from the sky outside of Lightroom might have been a better technique.  You can restore some sharpness using High Pass sharpening.

I was caught between giving this a good Nature score because of you success in providing story value to a landscape image and considering it not nature because of the white buildings at the base of the mountain range. Admittedly some viewers may not spot the buildings but Murphy says when it counts, it will be seen.  I finally decided to give it a 2 contingent on the buildings being cropped out. 

N2, T2, P3, E0, 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.