Study Group 2

Butch Spielman

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Title:   The Hunter's Eye 

Goal:    This is another shot of a collection I have of a Reddish Egret. This guy was on the hunt and in the manner of the Reddish Egret, that is, with quick movements and a constant turning of the head trying to spot his next meal

Equipment / Source:     Canon 7D II, EF 400 mm f/4 DO IS USM. Monopod pivoted in a belt and holder.

Technique:  Saw this bird when it was a long distance away. Just stayed put and waited. Within a while he worked towards me until her as a nice distance away. Tried to capture all of the gyrations these birds go through when feeding

Processing:    PS CC, Bridge and Viveza 2

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

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

Review by Les L.
The attention the bird is paying to capturing its' next meal makes the picture. You captured the perfect moment. I like the fact that the bird is tack sharp with full colors. The Egret's eyes show up well. Nice job.
N-2, T-3, P-3, E-0, Total-8

Review by Andy H.
Nice shot. Well seen and captured. Exposure and DOF spot on for me. Sharpness is adequate but a little soft resulting in feathers lacking detail. You've not given us any settings so hard to see what changes were possible.
N-2, T-2, P-3, E-0, Total-7

Review by Bruce F.
An excellent image catching a decisive moment with a beautiful pose, just before the strike. Lovely diffused lightning. I would have made a mask of the background water, and invert the mask so you would just have the egret selected, and through curves or levels give the egret a slight bit of brightness. Then, I think you would have a winning image. I would enter this image into the NANPA showcase competition. The diagonals of the body and tail add to the drama and tension of the egret’s body. With the one adjustment recommended above, you have an image any professional would be proud of, congratulations.
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-0, Total-9

Review by Bogdan B.
Butch, you have got a perfect shot of this bird. I like diagonal composition of it's tail feather and blurred background. The bird is very sharp and the DOF is perfect.
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-1, Total-10

Review by Dennis H.
Good image of hunting egret. Nice colour & detail on head & neck of bird.
Body of bird lacks a little feather detail.
N-3, T-2, P-3, E-0, Total-8

Review by Maria K-L
Beautiful image and technically perfect.To me the eye expression makes nature story strong.
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-0, Total-9

Review by John G.
I absolutely love the lines of the bill and the tail in parallel. Crisp and sharp with a clear subject that holds my attention... Well Done.
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-0, Total-9

Review by Commentator Dan C.
It looks like you have fun with Reddish Egrets. Your series of captures are very well done. Excellent nature story with this image, enhanced by the wet feathers due to a recent strike.

I find both story and pictorial qualities enhanced with the image flipped horizontal. I interact better with the reddish flipped. I also find the tail acts as a stronger leading line to the body and head.
N3, T3, P2, E1, Total 9

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Title:  Suffering the Wind 

Goal:   Was on a tidal flat on Galveston Texas, looking for Reddish Egrets. The wind had been blowing hard. And at the time of image capture the wind was still blowing. I had been watching this Tricolored Heron as he moved from spot to spot on the tidal flat. He seemed to be uncomfortable wherever he was. Then he went to the post to try that spot. He tried different positions and still could not find his comfort zone. He finally dropped down into a ditch and seemed to have found what he wanted. This is when I found out that both of my memory cards were full! I will bring extra cards the next time

Equipment / Source:  Canon 7D II and a 400 mm f/4 DOS

Technique:  I shot at f/4.5 and 1/1250 and ISO 320, monopod

Processing:  PS CC and Camera Raw, Color saturation, sharpening in PS CC.

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

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

Review by Alan L.
Good composition and exposure. The wind fluffed feathers give the image the excitement it needed. My only critique is the use of saturation which alters the natural color, especially since you had such great light to begin with.
N-3, T-3, P-2, E-0, Total-8

Review by Azim R.
Great Amazing Capture. Love this photo.
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-0, Total-9

Review by Mike P.
I enjoyed looking at this shot. Beautiful bird, sharply focused and perfectly exposed. I liked the soft background and the appearance of the wind ruffling its feathers. Nice job.
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-0, Total-9

Review by Gregory L.
Great portrait of this heron. The fluffed up feathers really enhance the shot. It is in good focus and nice and sharp. the bokeh is also very good.
N-2, T-3, P-3, E-0, Total-8
Review by Manu R
A lovely portrait with great details and nice back ground.With the egret facing the viewer with emerald eyes makes the impact.
N-2, T-3, P-3, E-0, Total-8

Review by Commentator Rick C.
I find this to be a well executed image from a technical perspective. The ruffled feathers help to add interest as does the nice breeding color in the bill and lores. Seeing the waders take advantage of pilings and other man made objects is fairly common now given the continuing encroachment on their habitat. Keeping it minimized as you have keeps it contributing, but not intruding. Focus and DOF both look good to me. I do think you could brighten him slightly and darken the background a touch to improve the lighting ratio where the light was as flat as it was.

N-2, T-3, P-3 = 8 ( N-2 a strong nature portrait but still not up to a behavior shot and the subject is not rare enough to put it over into the 3 category as nice as the feathers and breeding color are. I think it would still get accepted in an exhibition.)

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.