Study Group 2


Rick Dandridge (A)

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SEPTEMBER 2021 ROUND
Title:     Morning Reflections

Goal:  As with my Feb. 2021 submission, my goal here was a very simple one-to catch a sunrise at a local beach. I was fortunate that there was a nice cloud show and also that the tide was between high and low. That allowed some nice surf and sand features. The tidal pool and the wet sand’s reflections drew me to this scene.

Equipment/Source:   My settings were 0.5 sec, f/22, ISO 400 at 22mm. My gear was a Canon 7D MK 2, Canon EF 10-22 lens mounted on a tripod, which was adjusted to the proper height for the desired effect. 

Technique:  I arrived in the dark before sunrise. I am familiar with the beach so I was able to pre-visualize the scene. Upon arriving, I was pleasantly surprised with the texture of the sand.
I chose that shutter speed to slow the tide, creating a smooth surface to contrast with the rippled sand. I only use it in unique conditions, such as here where the foreground did not require tack sharp detail.

Processing:  I made some minor color and tone adjustments in LR

Score this image: YES

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

  Critique Image (only members of Study Group Two may critique this image)

Nature Story:
Lovely image, and the play of colors and shadows on the sand is gorgeous. Many people never get to see such a beautiful sunrise, that I suspect they would think these colors aren’t true. Having had the privilege to about out on a morning along a great beach, I could assure them that these colors are probably spot on.

Technical Quality:
I like the fact that you water action was not too milkshake and also not too frozen. The shutter speed you chose was perfect to give just a feeling of the soft movement at that time of day. The colors, and exposure are both very well done.

Pictorial Quality:
Other that great job and load of impact, I have just 2 minor things to suggest: 1. Move your horizon line further out of the center of the image. As it is, you image is almost a 50/50. It wouldn’t hurt to lose a little sky. 2. This suggestion has to do with submitting your image into competition. When shown on a black field, this image would be greatly helped by adding a 3 to 4 pixel border. I usually use an 18% grey or slightly darker. This is just enough to separate your image from the background, and helps the judges to stay within the frame. This can be very easily done with “Stroke” in Photoshop.

N – 3; T – 3; - P – 2 = 8


This Review is written by: Jodi S.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Beautiful image and colors in this picture. While landscape shots are not normally good candidates for a strong nature story, I thought this one conveyed a lot of information about the activity of the tides as they were changing.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The image is well lit and balanced. I am surprised there is so much color in the foreground though I know early morning light provides a beautiful and constantly changing view.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I really enj oyed this image. THe coposition is well done and intriguing.

NATURE SCORE 2-Nature story of average strength (portrait)

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 3-Excellent composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 8


This Review is written by: Larry T

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Creating a landscape with a nature story line is one of the more difficult tasks presented in this forum. I have often wondered if even flowing lava would be enough to meet the expectations. Perhaps hurricane force winds bending trees or maybe the change of leaves would work. I do know that just a beautiful scene, no matter how lovely will just not make the grade.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The only technical issue I would raise would be to reduce the aperture. Shooting at extremely high aperture settin g will produce some diffraction which will make things in the distance appear to be a bit soft. For a scene such as this you should have been able to reduce the aperture to f16 and still have managed to get infinity sharp. I would suggest obtain and carrying a card that will detain DOF at different focal length and settings. Alternatively, you could use PhotoPills where this information is available.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
For me the image is just too dark and I would like a stronger subject. There is nothing that really holds my eye. The dynamic range is too evenly spread throughout the frame, and there is nothing in the foreground that is bright enough to fully hold my interest.

NATURE SCORE 2-Nature story of average strength (portrait)

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 3-Excellent composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 7


This Review is written by: Charlie Y

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Although a very colorful and pretty landscape of sunrise, a big portions of the image is not showing much of details/textual, Otherwise might enhance the story aspect of what this image is try to tell, thus elevate the rating. At this point, given a 2 is what I can award.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
timing is good to capture a splendor sky, very colorful.
However, some are, middle, and upfront, shows vast area of dead black, no details visible. Adjust shadow slider, might reveal more details and enhance the story and impact of the image.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
nice image for normal landscape, with some minor adjustment mentioned above.

NATURE SCORE 2-Nature story of average strength (portrait)

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

EXTRA POINT 0-No extra point

TOTAL SCORE 6


This Review is written by: Pinaki S.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
It is a nature image. If this is not a nature image then what is ? A beautiful image. Good work.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
I love the POV , however I would have cropped a little more to get rid of the front left of the image.
I don't think it is contributing anything to the image and is largely dark,
alternatively given the fact that the image was shot at ISO 400 maybe I would have tried pull something out of those dark shadows to see how it looks.

On the upper part of the image cloud movements are observable.

Because of F22, probably there is a hint of light rays in the sky, would larger F number helped in that direction. I prefer this one though.
Horizon needs to be straightened a tad bit.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Beautiful color tones and texture on the image.Good work. Nice Image.

NATURE SCORE 2-Nature story of average strength (portrait)

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 7


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AUGUST 2021 ROUND

Title:    Battle of the Fittest
   
Goal:      In February 2012, I joined a group of photographers on a trip to Yellowstone NP to photograph wolf packs. One day we came upon this elk that had been killed by wolves, which were now gone. Thus began one of the best reasons for the wolf reintroduction, which began in 1995. That is the provisioning of the entire food chain, top to bottom. While we were there, coyotes, Bald and Golden Eagles, and magpies all fed off the remains. And that was just the beginning. Creatures further down that chain would continue to feast until every bite had been taken. And in the freezing winter that could be the difference between life and death for many creatures. I was blessed to photograph these coyotes in a fight for sustenance.
 
Equipment/Source:    Canon 7D, Canon EF 100-400 lens mounted on a tripod. 1/800 of a sec, f/5.6, ISO 800 at 260 mm. A narrow river separated us from the action, therefore the wildlife was not concerned about our presence.

Technique:   The most obvious technique was the successful dealing with the frigid weather, including keeping spare batteries warm in an inside pocket. To keep my hands safe and warm, I worn liners, gloves ( with the right hand thumb and forefinger trimmed off at the knuckles ) and heavy outer gloves. When shooting, I would briefly remove the right hand outer glove in order to catch the action. Then, just as quickly, would replace it.

Processing:  
The image was cropped and had tone and color adjustments in LR. It was sharpened in Topaz AI Sharpener. I purposely included the red meat when cropping. It could be said that it distracts from the subjects, but I feel it strongly increases the strength of the nature story more than it weakens the composition.

Score this image: YES 

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

  Critique Image (only members of Study Group Two may critique this image)

Review by commentator Tom S.
Strong nature story, Rick.  Whenever there is this kind of interaction between critters in the wild, then it is a strong story.  Having the elk in the picture makes the story make sense, otherwise we wouldn’t know what the coyotes were fighting over.  N3

There are several technical problems.  The depth of field is too small. You should have used f11 or f16 to get more of the coyotes in focus.  Also, they are too dark and the lighting is very flat so all needs to be brightened up and the contrast needs to be increased. See my adjusted image. T1

The composition is good and as I mentioned, the elk adds to the image.  Nothing extraneous in the image except the important parts. Good work. P3

N3, T1, P3, E0 = 7

Dave Ficke – “Playing”
Since the viewer has no idea about the sow and cub playing as you saw, you have to show them that, but the cropping to so tight that it isn’t obvious that it is a sow and cub and that they are playing.  However, there is some kind of relationship going on. N2

Technically, it is ok.  The bears are reasonably sharp and their coloring is good.  T3

The cropping is much too tight so it is hard to see what is going on.  It would be much better to show a lot more or all the animals to be able to understand the situation.  Also, it would be better to be able to see the eye of the bear on the right.  P1

N2, T3, P1, E0  = 6 



This Review is written by: Rich F

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Interesting image of 2 coyotes fighting over the remains of a elk carcass. You included just enough of the carcass to set the stage.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Exposure is good but perhaps a 1/3 to 1/2 stop too dark. The face of right coyote appears to be sharp and the shutter speed was sufficient to stop the action for the most part. A slightly higher ISO and shutter speed would have better frozen the front paw of the left coyote.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The coyotes are well placed in the frame. I would have tried a different crop - removing some of the bottom of the image creating a slight pano feel to it. Inclusion of the magpies help with the nature story. As I said before, leaving a bit of the carcass in the lower left helps sets the stage.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

EXTRA POINT 1-Exceptional

TOTAL SCORE 8

This Review is written by: Dennis H

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Good nature story with coyotes fighting over elk carcass.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Image appears a little soft which unfortunately detracts from detail. Colour on coyotes appear natural.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Image could be improved by removing distracting elements from foreground below L/H birds head. Also by rotating the image.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 1-Inadequate composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 6

This Review is written by: Bruce F

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
The nature story is definitely, there. I agree with including the “bloody” carcass, which helps explain why the coyotes are quarreling. Thus, the nature story is excellent. The back coyote is perfectly placed with a clear view of his face and snarling behavior, possibly submissive behavior. The first coyote is going after him and pointing away from the viewer. Sometimes, the photographer’s subject placement within the frame is hard and not controllable. If you were over to the right more , you could possibly obtain a side profile of the first coyote and had its face closer to perpendicular to you and your camera. I think better positioning would turn a very good image into an excellent one. Being across the river might have prevented a better angle. Also, the action happens so fast, maybe you didn’t have time to position the vehicle in the best place. This should be what the driver is thinking when approaching the carcass and scene, or some photographer should direct the driver to the best spot, or anticipate and think through the possible positioning, so it’s intentional rather than reactive.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Here is where I think the image falters a bit. I don’t think it's sharp as it could be. Even with a Canon 7D, I would have tried to push the ISO, up to 1600. I shot with the 7D for many years. With this change, you could obtain a 1/1600 sec shutter speed. Thus, the motion blur would have been reduced, resu lting in a sharper image. I think both coyotes are soft. I would lighten the image too, perhaps as much as one-stop. The heavy dark overcast lighting was not helpful here. Also, I would try Topaz Sharpen AI with the blurry mode to see if I couldn’t get the coyote’s faces and their bodies more sharper. The original Canon 100 – 400 f5.6 lens was notorious for softness, so maybe, some of the fault here is the lens. I cannot find the zone of sharpness, except for the dried grass stems on the bottom right.

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
The pictorial arrangement of subjects on a diagonal from the carcass directly to the submissive coyote is good and creates flow, and leads the mind to this important second coyote. I might have left a little more room on top. The submissive coyote’s back is very close to the edge of the top of the frame. Therefore, the image has a top-heavy feel.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 2-Average exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 7
This Review is written by: Dave F.

NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE
Strong nature story with where you can see the carcass as well as a I believe a magpie in the background. The two wolves are defiantly having some issued and interaction.

TECHNICAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
Image appears sharp and exposure might have been a bit dark in the shadows - personal preference. Snow looks well exposed

PICTORIAL REVIEW OF IMAGE
based upon the angle of the shot it looks like you’re a lot higher than the wolves. Maybe you are on an emba nkment looking down or from the vehicle, but you say you were using a tripod?? Anyway other then looking down on the two wolves a very nice image.

NATURE SCORE 3-Nature story strong

TECHNICAL SCORE 3-Excellent exposure

PICTORIAL SCORE 2-Average composition and impact

TOTAL SCORE 8

I am an amateur photographer, with a background of fine art (oil and watercolor.) I enjoy backpacking and travels with my wife. Most of our trips have been to the great American west.

I live in Summerville, South Carolina, near to the coast. This area's natural beauty and rich history provide ample opportunities for varied photographic subjects. I joined PSA in order to improve my skill and to share my work with a variety of people.