Study Group 2

Mike Patterson

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Title:    Bald Eagle

Goal:     My goal was to focus on my composition. I spotted this bald eagle along the rocky shoreline in the San Juan Islands northwest of Seattle. I was pleased between the contrast between the rocks, the bird and the water. Hopefully, I achieved a nice balance between the elements. I know there's not a lot of action here but I thought it was a magnificent looking bird anyway.

 Canon Rebel, 55-250 mm lens shot at 135 mm. (I was about 20 yards from the bird.) ISO 200, 1/250 second at f10.

Peered over the edge of the embankment, grabbed a few shots while hand-holding camera and hoped for the best before it flew off.

Processing:    Minimal Lightroom adjustments and cropping.

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 Rick C.

I think your basic composition works. My initial question is whether this is full frame or you cropped in to get to this. If this is full frame, I would crop in with the same aspect ratio to get a tighter view where the eagle is larger in the frame. I think the water is complimentary and the rocks set a nice habitat, but you don’t need as much rock to be effective. I’d concentrate the crop on the right side and bottom. The shot looks a little under exposed. I’m guessing you were fighting with the exposure to keep from clipping the whites in the eagle’s head. You can bring the rest of the tones back to a more balanced look fairly easily. The eagle looks to be a little on the soft side, though it is hard to be certain at this size image. I think it may well be more of a case of needing to do a bit more post capture sharpening to account for the normal softness in a capture. Remember that the back of your camera shows a jpeg rendering and that typically includes sharpening that isn’t there in the raw file when you process it later.

N-1, T-2, T-2 = 5 ( N-1 A nature portrait but partially obscured by the environment the subject is in. T-2 Slightly under exposed. P-2 Tighten cropping for more impact.)

Review by Dorothy P-R
The eagle is a beautiful bird to watch. The image is more a portrait. It seems the eagle is soft. I would like to have seen this perhaps cropped more to emphasize the eagle. I can't say I get a powerful impact from the image. It is a good composition with the eagle not centered.  
N-2, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-6

Review by Les L.
As you indicated there is not a lot of action but I think it is an interesting nature image. You did a good job exposing and focusing the picture. My only suggestion would be crop the photo from both sides and the bottom to make the eagle a much larger part of the picture.
N-2, T-3, P-2, E-0, Total-7

Review by Butch S.
A very nice image. I believe that the image should be cropped significantly. With a crop the details of the eagle and the texture of the rocks water will become evident. You and I agree that this image is more of portrait image an action image. But I believe that a proper crop will maintain a reasonable pictorial quality.
N-2, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-6


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Title:   Pelicans
Goal:  To capture an unusual grouping of pelicans at Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico

Equipment/Source:  Canon Rebel T2i, Tamron200-500 mm lens

Technique:   Spotted this group of pelicans in the morning light. They were in the middle of a lake, and grouped together, probably for safety. Shot at 465 mm with tripod, ISO 200, 1/100 second at f8

Processing:   Cropping and minor adjustments in LR

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 well handled.  The rafting is not that unusual of a practice and is generally performed for safety as you surmised and for hunting to herd a shoal of baitfish then take turns grabbing fish from the baitball.  Not as spectacular as the more familiar dive but definitely more common for the white pelican than the brown pelican. The rafting and the setting does provide story value but that story is weak.

Even on a tripod the image appears a bit soft.  Your exposure and composition are good.  The time of day gave you an excellent quality of light.

N2, T2, P3, E0, Total 7

Review by Bogdan B.
The pelicans are interesting, and enviroment and light are perfect. They are a little bit far. But the main problem is, that they are not sharp enough, maibe to overexposure. White birds are hardly properly exposed.
N-3, T-1, P-2, E-0, Total-6

Review by Andy H.
I really love this image, it has real impact and nicely composed.
Technically there is little to fault other than the pelicans area little soft, for me. I might have lowered my viewing angle to reduce the amount of water between the pelicans and the reeds. This would also have put them into the golden reed reflection.
N-3, T-2, P-3, E-0, Total-8

Review by Dennis H.
Pleasant nature scene. Difficult to see much detail on pelicans. Good reflections on lake from background and birds. Nice lighting on image.
N-2, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-6

Review by Fran M.
OMG! look at that late afternoon golden lighting. How lovely. The composition of the image is distracting for me though. I keep looking at the pelicans, then up to the golden reeds on the far side of the bank, then back to the pelicans. I don't know where you are directing me to look. I think it may be because there is a big depth of field drawing my attention to the two principal sharp areas equally. If you had narrowed your depth of field to make me look only at the pelicans, it would be a better shot. Also searching for the story in the shot. What were they doing? Can't see feeding behaviour - are they just resting?
N-2, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-6

Review by Bruce F.
I like the light; it’s warm and diffused, creating a pleasing color palette. Yet, the white of the pelicans’ feathers is still very close to a neutral white color. The water reflections add to the pictorial qualities. The center placement of the pelicans isn’t a negative in my book. This placement works well with the other elements of design.
However, image is somewhat static; the pelicans are not engaging in any interesting behavior. I would have wait a bit to see if they started fishing. To begin they start circling, trapping fish in their circle, then, diving and coming up to catch fish in their beaks. This moment if captured would increase the nature story component. Right now, the images feels more pictorial with a diminished nature story The layers of water, the pelicans themselves, water reflections, reeds, and the trees beyond create a great canvas, empathizing habitat over action, pictorial elements over the nature story.
The lack of action has the effect of creating a scene of tranquility and calm, making a stronger pictorial image and less of a nature one.
N-2, T-3, P-3, e-0, Total-8

Review by Maria K-L
The photo shows pelicans in their environment. For me story is 2.
Light, colors and exposure, dof look good to me. Reflections are very nice. In my opinion the photo would be stronger with tighter crop. I would actually crop out grasses as we see them in reflections anyway. This would make stronger composition and pelicans would become more important in the frame
N-2, T-3, P-2, E-0, Total-7

Review by Dorothy P-R
Much more interesting if not centered, and the pelicans were the focal point. I would have liked if it were cropped more, with pelicans off centered. The pelicans just seem so small for being the subject of this shot. The front of the image would be more interesting with a foreground. The picture has good exposure, and color. This would have been better if a foreground element was included to add more depth field. The grass behind the birds adds some depth. The pelicans huddled, and long beaks reflecting off the water seems to say they are tired, and sticking together.  
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.