Study Group 2

Mike Patterson

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Title:     Sandhill Cranes in Flight
Goal:    To capture the gracefulness of the Sandhill Cranes in flight. 

Equipment/Source:   Canon 7D, 100-400 mm lens, shot at 142 mm, ISO 800, f/8 at 1/2000 second. Taken a dusk, with the golden light striking their wings. 

Technique:    Hundreds of cranes were flying overhead. I panned a large number, then cropped down to these two. 

Processing:    Lightroom adjustments to crop and lighten.

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.

You did capture the story you were going for.  You have given the sandhills adequate room to fly.  Your choice to panel the image is good but a bit less space above the cranes would add to the feeling of height to the pair.

Your story is decent but the pair would work together better if there was not as much separation as you have here.

N2, T3, P2, E0, Total 7

Review by Andy H.
Gave yourself a difficult task. Story is there. These types of images are always difficult as the birds are inevitably flying away. You said you cropped down and I think that has resulted in the image loosing detail and becoming soft. The image does have impact and suits the letterbox format.
N-3, T-1, P-2, E-0, Total 6

Bruce F.
I think that the Sandhill Cranes aren’t as sharp as I would like and expect. This could be caused by the excessive cropping or cropping beyond the limits of the image capture. Or because your lens was a Canon 100-400mm zoom, the older version. This lens isn’t the sharpest around and is over 10 years old, and has less than great optics.

I do like your panoramic format presentation. It works well with the image. Almost always, three subjects are better than two. With three you could have had some triangle shape, with a much more powerful visual element than the line you have between them now. I also think that if they were closer together, and not in the same linear plane, your composition would have been much stronger too. I do like that they both have wings down, that’s a plus. Light soft and pleasing. Sharpness is the overall issue that holding this image back.
N-2, T-1, P-2, E-0, Total-5

Review by Bogdan B.
Interesting to capture two birds together. The first one has a little bit few space in front. Cropping seems to be too large, because birds are not sharp enough.
N-3, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-7

Review by Suman B.
I would like a three bird scene as it is more pleasing pictorially. but the repeatition of folded wings does give your image an added value. sharpness is a bit low. lighting is good end of day type. 
N-2, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-6

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Title:     Death in Bosque

Goal:    Spotted two bald eagles finishing off a meal of a snow goose they had captured. They are standing on a frozen pond with sandhill cranes in the background.

Canon 7D, 100-400mm lens shot at 400mm, iso800, f16 at 1/640. 
Stood on shoreline and shot across pond. Handheld. 

Processing:   Basic processing and cropping in Lightroom. Used Photoshop to sharpen.  

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

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Review by commentator Rick C.

I think you captured the story that you encountered fairly well. This is more of an environmental / habitat image, but the story comes through clearly and the presence of the Sandhills adds some context. You mentioned cropping in the description, so this is already smaller than full frame which likely rules out cropping in even tighter to just the Eagles. Even then, some of the plants sticking up out of the ice would remain in front of them and still be distractions as intervening elements. I think you handled the technical aspects fairly well. Enlarging the image to get a closer look at the Eagles leaves shows them to be a little soft. That could well be related to the handheld capture even with the higher shutter speed. If you had an extender with you, I may have been worth a try at bumping the iso up even more and trying for a shot using the extender.

N-3, T-2, P-2 = 7 (T-2 slight softness in the Eagles, P-2 The intervening plants along the immediate foreground and passing in front of the Eagles do function as distracting elements.)

Review by Les L.
I think this photo could use some adjustments. I would suggest cropping the image, particularly on the L and R to concentrate on the center of interest. Unfortunately in this particular shot, a stick crosses the eagles head which is very distracting. I would also prefer shooting with a wider lens opening to defuse the background.
N-3, T-1, P-1, E-0, Total-5

Review by Butch S.
The activity of the two eagles dining on Snow Goose would be a good good nature story if the image itself clearly conveys this point..

I believe that the composition can be significantly improved. lI would crop so that the only two birds in the image are the eagles. The cranes confuse the story. They are nothing but bystanders and not contributory to the story. Looking at just the image, no explanation leads the viewer to the idea that a Snow Goose is being eaten, rather I first thought that the cranes were the prey.

The eagles looks to be in good focus and coloration.  
N-2, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-6

Review by Ken W.
The story is interesting of an eagle eating a bird with the cranes in the background. However, the vegetation in the foreground blocks too much of the critical parts of the scene. It also was taken at a long distance and there is not good detail of the eagles eye and feathers. 
N-3, T-2, P-1, E-0, total-6

Review by Fran M.
I would be very excited to see Bald Eagles, and you have scooped a photo. How fantastic. Good story with eagle behaviour shown. Of course we are used to seeing BBC images, so I thought it should be closer to the action (how unreasonable!!!). Well done for getting a shot. Very busy background is a bit distracting.
N-2, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-6

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.