Nature Study Group 2


Susan Newlin (B)

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JANUARY 2022 ROUND

Title:      Prairie Dog Family
 
Goal:     
Capture activity in a field of Black-tailed Prairie Dogs in Theodore Roosevelt National Park
 
Equipment/Source:  Canon R5, 100-500 lens, tripod

Technique:     Late afternoon visit to area with Prairie Dogs and a terrain that allowed me to be at eye level when shooting. Scanning and waiting for activity that might tell a story of the lives of these cute little creatures. I found this family interacting on a slight knoll that contrasted against a rise in the shade that gave a good outline of the animals.

Processing:    Topaz Denoise RAW, Camera Raw, NIK Detail. Curves to lighten and darken to provide image as my eye saw it.

Score this image: YES

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

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

 




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DECEMBER 2021 ROUND
Title:    Splash Play

Goal:   To capture the young Cougar at play in the water

Equipment/Source:    Canon R5 with 100-500mm telephoto set to 100. f5.4, 1/1000

Technique:   On a ranch in northern Montana, I observed this wet juvenile Cougar essentially playing on a meadow near a stream. Waiting, I captured many shots of him leaping on logs and up a tree trunk, but my favorite was when he decided to splash into the stream that was between me and his roping area. Fortunately, he didn't seem to want to go too deep, so I felt safe taking a few shots. For safety, there were others around ready to shoo him off if he decided to go for a swim and a truck nearby to jump into if needed ;)

Processing:    Denoise in the new RAW version for Topaz, Lightroom and 50% on detail in NIK.

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 Rick C.
There is definitely a nature story in the behavior shown however, while stronger than the normal environmental portrait, I do not see it as compelling. When we add the fact of a less frequently viewed subject, the “rarity” factor would elevate it enough for a 3 rating. Your comments on others nearby leave an open question on whether this was a chance encounter with a subject known to frequent the area or a possible game farm set up. I’m leaving the rating as a 3 assuming you would indicate if the subject was captive if that was the case.

The exposure is good for the lighting present. Primary focus looks reasonable but the subject lacks true sharpness. That can be corrected, but the existing edge contrast resulting from the Nik Detail filter makes doing so impractical on the existing jpeg. You may want to go back and fix the sharpness issue first. That may actually eliminate the need for using the Detail filter. The technical rating is a 2 as the lack of true sharpness is correctible.

The central composition is visually static despite the action of the subject. The right side can be cropped to more of a vertical panel to improve that aspect. I would also counsel that you do not add your name or water marking on the images for this group as it does add a visual distraction that does not need to be there. The pictorial rating for me is a 2.

N-3, T-2, P-2 = 7


PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Delany, Nick
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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Really different image captured at a unique moment showing behavior and an exceptional reflection in the water.
Score 3
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: I think this image should be crisper & wonder whether there was a lighting or processing issue. I am seeing noise and crunchyiness on the cougar but not on his reflection. Assuming you did not have bad light & high ISO, I would trying processing this in Lightroom only and check you did not use too much contrast/clarity.
Score1
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Composition and timing with the water reflection are excellent. I would recommend you shoot from a lower vantage point to improve the composition.
Score 2
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NATURE SCORE: 3 - Nature story strong
TECHNICAL SCORE: 1 - Inadequate exposure, color balance and sharpness
PICTORIAL SCORE: 2 - Average composition and impact
Extra Point awarded: 0 - No extra point
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Total score: 6

PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Dandridge, Rick
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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Hi Susan. This is a very exciting photograph. Living in South Carolina makes photographing these great cats basically impossible! It is a subject definitely on my bucket list! Kudos to you! As exciting as it is, this is still common cat behavior.
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: I would like to know your ISO setting. Were you hand holding, or using a tripod? Also, I wonder why you did not zoom in on the subject. The abundance of surrounding environment lessens the impact of the cat hitting the water. Also, I cannot tell if the cat is tack sharp. The true test for a sharp image is the eye and, in this case, I cannot make a determination. 
I do appreciate the detail your provided in your technique commentary. You certainly considered the situation you were willing to be in order to get the shot! Well done!
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: I would like to see a tighter crop, even if it meant losing some of the reflection. I would suggest experimenting with different crops to find the one that features the strongest impact. Impact is the leading attraction for any photo, especially nature photos, overruling usually accepted composition “rules.”
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NATURE SCORE: 2 - Nature story of average strength (portrait)
TECHNICAL SCORE: 2 - Average exposure
PICTORIAL SCORE: 2 - Average composition and impact
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Total score: 6

PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Bricelj, Bogdan
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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Interesting game of the animal.
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Animal is sharp, good lightened. You should decrease the greens of the grass.
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: The animal is central positioned. I would crop the image on the right.
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NATURE SCORE: 3 - Nature story strong
TECHNICAL SCORE: 3 - Excellent exposure, color balance and sharpness
PICTORIAL SCORE: 2 - Average composition and impact
Extra Point awarded: 0 - No extra point
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Total score: 8

PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Ramchandani, Ranjan
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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Love the image. Would love to photograph this beautiful animal myself some day. Definitely has a nature story angle to it. If you have any image of it in the air or splashing in the water when exiting...Would love to see that too.
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Would have loved to see the image with slightly less processing. Other than that it's a beautiful image.
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: Love the over all impact. The grass does pull my attention away a bit, but that is what nature is all about. 
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NATURE SCORE: 3 - Nature story strong
TECHNICAL SCORE: 2 - Average exposure
PICTORIAL SCORE: 2 - Average composition and impact
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Total score: 7

PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Bhattacharyya, Suman
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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: the splash of water does elevate your story value of the cougar but not to a great level. the tail of the animal does show some alertness but without any focus on other subjects it's very hard to determine why it is doing what it is doing! 
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: I don't understand why you needed to boost your ISO to 12800 to get a f/11 aperture which it seems not at all necessary. As a result of that huge bump in ISO colour noise seems to have crept in. Also the separation from background to foreground is unattainable in such high aperture. You had a 150-500 lens combo and you shot at 100 mil. you could have easily get a close up if you wanted to of that splash!
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: The pov is not direct but from above the animal which makes the story being seen by a tourist rather than a wildlife photographer. You needed to be up, close and personal with this shot.
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NATURE SCORE: 2 - Nature story of average strength (portrait)
TECHNICAL SCORE: 2 - Average exposure
PICTORIAL SCORE: 2 - Average composition and impact
Extra Point awarded: 0 - No extra point
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Total score: 6

PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Ramchandani, Ranjan
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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: The image is a perfect story of life in the wild. Each species dies it's job to survive. Such is nature!
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: I think the image is very sound technically. Yes! one has no choice, but to over expose in such circumstances. I do hope you submit some flight shots of the Eagle returning soon. Would love to see them.
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: I quite like the branch as a distraction. It only shows us that the image is taken in the wild and we as humans can not change what nature has to offer us.
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NATURE SCORE: 3 - Nature story strong
TECHNICAL SCORE: 3 - Excellent exposure, color balance and sharpness
PICTORIAL SCORE: 3 - Excellent composition and impact
Extra Point awarded: 1 - Exceptional
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Total score: 10

PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Bodart, Marian
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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: This is a wonderful story of a young cougar at splashing and playing. What a great opportunity to see something so unique!
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: The focus on the cat is a little soft and it appears that the camera focused on the grass in front of the animal. The splash is well captured and adds to the story.
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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: The power of the image is in the reflection and the face of the cat. I find the color and tone similarities in the tail and background confusing. I think if you had zoomed into 350 - 400 mm you may have been able to get the face, splash and reflection without the additional background. The image may be enhanced by a tighter crop on the top right. 
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NATURE SCORE: 3 - Nature story strong
TECHNICAL SCORE: 2 - Average exposure
PICTORIAL SCORE: 2 - Average composition and impact
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Total score: 7

PERSON WHO WROTE THE REVIEW: Boros, LC
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NATURE REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: A good action story as it’s clear the cat is tracking something with its eyes and body.
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TECHNICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: On my screen there is a lot of noise in the image and the while the reflection is gorgeous, the body of the cat looks overblown:  some selective dodge/burn might help with that.  Someone will probably comment about the watermark:  I’ve made that mistake before as well when submitting here, so don’t worry about it.  Sometimes when in a hurry to submit our default export catches up with us. 

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PICTORIAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGE: I think you’ve worked the image to get the best composition you can given the subject and action:  my only suggestion would be to flip it to read stronger.

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NATURE SCORE: 3 - Nature story strong
TECHNICAL SCORE: 2 - Average exposure
PICTORIAL SCORE: 2 - Average composition and impact
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Total score: 6

Susan is a juried photographic artist from the Cape Cod Art Center. She has recently moved to Southern California and now concentrates her work there.  

Susan’s work focuses on wildlife and landscapes. She has exhibited in several juried galleries and shows. She is active in photo clubs in Southern California and Massachusetts as well as the Photographic Society of America. Her work focuses on showing birds and other animals in their natural habitat or in various life activities, as well as natural landscapes that tell the story of our environment and its beauty.

Her work can be found on-line at www.facebook.com/SusanNewlinNaturePhoto