Study Group 2


Butch Spielman

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FEBRUARY 2015 ROUND
Title:  Green Heron

Goal:   The goal was to capture birds doing what birds do. The spot I chose was one where egrets and herons often feed. The egrets were the "kings of the roost" the herons were way down the feeding chain. But the former was much less tolerant of humans than the latter. So, when I showed up everybody left, but the green heron came back quickly. He had to act quick to get a meal before he was run off. This guy did just that--note how far he is cantilevered out to get his fish. Honesty, requires that I say that the water is falling over a man made weir that has been at this spot for decades. "Hand-of-man"--I don't know.

Source:   Canon 5 D III, 100-400 mm, f7.1, 1/1600 sec Iso 1000, spot eval.

Technique:  Hand held, get in close, stay still and hidden

Processing:  PS CC

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

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

Review by Les L., 2-21-2015
Great image of a Green Heron catching his dinner. Nice composition, tack sharp, story all there, and I like the way the bird's eyes show up. Good job.
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-0, Total-9


Review by Tom B., 2-22-2015
Butch, this is a very nice image. The colors, tones, clarity and sharpness are all there. You caught the green heron with neck extended and the little fish adds the extra to make this a good nature story. I don't think that the weir qualifies as the hand of man -
You did a nice job meeting your objective.
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-1, Total=10


You have captured a wonderful nature story and done it with solid technical execution. I think the composition you have chosen to show is a plus here. Some may feel you are a little too tight near the tail, but this does not bother me. You are on point with the question you raise about the hand of man aspect. The structure of the weir wall is such that it is obviously man made. Some judges will mark down or potentially even DQ because of that. From my perspective this falls into that gray area of customary or adopted habitat and I have no issue given the story shown. I will also be honest and say that if it were up against an equally strong image that did not show the hand of man or one, even form this local, where the weir wall was much less apparent I would pick the other image when ranking them for possible awards. Try running the sharpening tool (blend mode – Luminosity, Opacity – 15%, Protect Detail box checked) over just the bill area. I think it will help the definition there. Use a new composite layer and turn the Sample All Layers option off. To my mind this one should be winning HMs if not higher awards whenever you put it out. It will definitely do so in any pictorial (PID) competition unless the judges are anti-nature. (Remember the hand of man is not an issue in PID.)

N-3, T-3, P-3 +bonus point = 10


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JANUARY 2015 ROUND

Title:  Dragon Fly

Goal:   I went to the Bluebonnet swamp to see what I could shoot. Bright sky with dappled light. Love to shoot dragon flies, and found this one in that light. Thought the dead limb with its vine made for an interesting combination even though no action.

Source:  Canon 5 D III, f10.0, 1/400 sec, ISO 1,000, 100-400 mm lens

Technique:  Hand held shot.

Processing:  PS CC crop, burn/dodge, sharpening, hue/sat.

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

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

Review by Lisa A., 1-14-2015
The dragonfly’s body seems to follow the shape of the log, adding interest to the shot. I like the texture of the wood. Your dragonfly is clear however in my opinion seems a bit too green. The wings are a bit dark against the background. Perhaps a softer post process would have given a softer green shade, a lighter background, and more clarity to the wings. I also think this would have been more interesting if the wing movement could have been captured. Perhaps a slower shutter speed would have helped.
N-3, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total=7


Review by Les L., 1-15-2015
Tack sharp image following the rule of thirds with strong linear lines. Perhaps a shade under exposed losing the clear wing definition.
N-3, T-2, P-3, E-0, Total=8


Review by Tom B., 1-24-2015

I have tried to capture dragonfly images many times. I agree that the image seems a little under exposed. The body and head are crisp and there is some definition to the wings. Possibly a lighter background would give more definition to the wings and a portion of the tail.
N=3, T=2, P=3, E=0, Total=8
Review by Bogdan B., 1-26-2015
Butch, your dragon fly is nice to look at. Anyway the green is too saturated. The wingsa are hardly seen on the dark background. The shape of the log compete to the animal.
N-3, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total=7
Review by Rick C., 1-25-2015
A nice study made under difficult lighting conditions. My ID would be a Green Clearwing Dragonfly (all one word on dragonfly). The exposure is good for the body but probably under by about one full stop as far as allowing the wings to separate out. I think you made the right trade off at point of capture.. I suspect you needed to do some of the burning in on the branch that it is resting on. That all looks natural, so good job there. You can go back into ACR or Lightroom and open up the exposure on the wings by a stop to let them separate out if you really want to show the detail there. Primary focus and DOF look to be good. The body color is deep, but not excessively so. I might back off a bit using a negative Vibrance rather than saturation. The wing position is poised and “pre-flight”. It is a very natural pose for these insects. The lack of separation on the wings does hold it back some, but with the lighting that seems to be here, I would say you did a good job on the capture and processing.

N-3, T-2, P-3 = 8


I am recently retired (chemical engineer/attorney) and I needed something to fill the resultant hole. I have fished and hunted all of my life, but was looking for a “soft” way to enjoy the outdoors and nature. Old age does that to you. I became interested in photography about 4 years ago. My photographic interests are wide in scope but I am now beginning to focus on wildlife. The “nature” category is a challenge.

I am an opportunistic photographer and try to find subjects wherever I go. My main “studios” are the swamps, marshes, woods and bayous of Louisiana. My subjects are mainly birds, flowers, insects, gators, etc. There are some excellent photo opportunities in the spring at the rookeries located in Louisiana’s Acadian (Cajun) country. Great food too!!!

I lean heavily in the direction of shooting “hand-held.” However, I will use a tripod in low light. I shoot Canon (70D and 5D III). I have several lenses, but my go-to lenses are the 24-104 mm 4.0L, 100-400 mm 4.5-5.6L and 70-200 mm 4.0L. Also use converters and extenders. Shoot in RAW and process with Photoshop CC and Nik Software.

I am only now beginning to enter competitions, etc. I have found success and recently won a Best in Show ribbon. I want to learn more (a lot more) and see what others folks are doing.