Study Group 2


Butch Spielman

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JULY 2015 ROUND

Title:  Touche!

Goal:   Another rookery, this time, the Jefferson Island rookery in Louisiana. Usual cast of characters there, egrets, Roseate Spoonbills, etc. But for the first time I saw a few White Ibis trying to settle in for nesting. They really favored the tops of cypress trees having really bushy tops. Such trees were rather scarce. I noticed a ruckus at one tree top and started watching it closely. This shot shows how contentious the situation was. The bird on the left was caught with its eyes wide open and feet knocked from their landing perch. The bird on the right was in full attack mode, note that its protective eye lid is closed. Did not see any lasting physical damage, but I bet there was some bragging going on in the top of that tree.

Equipment / Source:  Canon 5D III, Tamron 150-600 mm, shot at 450 mm, f7.6, 1/2000 sec, ISO 800, hand held

Technique:  Looking for something different and sorting through the clutter.

Processing: PSCC, burn/dodge, hue and sat. denoise and sharpen

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

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

Review by Bruce F., 7-20-2015
Exciting nature image. However, the title isn’t descriptive of the visual nature story portrayed. You have a pictorial or whimsical title. Not good for nature or nature competitions. Fix the title if you are going to enter it in any type of competition, like PSA, or for a more local camera club.

I really like that the one defending his patch of greenery or tree space, particularly that it has its beak into the feathers of the other landing White Ibis. This action strengthens and adds drama to the story.

The light is good, shows the eyes well, especially the landing white ibis. Although, I might brighten the left one to clearly show the protective eye lid better.

I would darken the white ibis in the upper left corner and the lower right corner. If possible, I would dodge them out completely giving us more of that dark background that you have on the top and upper right side. If can’t get them out completely, then, tone down them as much as possible without making them unnatural… Tone down the light reflected from them, especially the one in the upper left. These White Ibis are a bit distracting, since the eye visually is drawn strongly to white.

Not sure if you clip the toes of the landing White Ibis, but this doesn’t bother me as much since toes are kind of buried in the green leave area.

A beautiful capture at a beautiful moment showing interesting nature behavior. Congratulations.
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-0, Total=9
Review by Rick C., 7-23-2015
You captured excellent territorial interaction in this shot. The basic technical aspects look good for the strong, contrasty lighting that you had. Primary focus and DOF are also good. I think your composition works for the elements you need to have in the frame, though, like Bruce, I wish the Ibis In the upper left wasn’t there. I think you have darkened it about as much as you can without it being overly obvious that you are trying to make it duller. This is a well handled situation that yielded a strong nature story.
N-3, T-3, P-3 = 9
Review by Dawn C., 7-29-2015
Excellent nature story - confrontation in a crowded rookery. The exposure and DOF are excellent for this scene and the bright white plumage of the Ibis. Composition is strong. The two bystanders add context, but doing some judicial burning to bring the tone down might be a plus. Overall - excellent image!
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-0, Total-9
Review by Andy H., 7-24-2015
Another great image and superb interaction.
Can't see much wrong technically. I might lighten the leg area on the front bird. I would like to see a little more area above the wing tip on the RHS and possible darken the bird, top left.(a little distracting)
N-3, T-2, P-3, E-0, Total=8
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JUNE 2015 ROUND
Title:   Nest Building

Goal:    This image was taken at a rookery on High Island Texas. My goal was to obtain an image that showed a bird(s) engaged in an activity typical to rookery life. I did not want to shoot a portrait. This Roseate Spoonbill fit the bill has he(she) was in the act of gathering sticks for nest building. The stick chosen was not an easy get as it was green and of some diameter. The bird twisted and turned trying to break the stick. The flared wings helped it to obtain enough leverage to accomplish the task. Finally the stick was broken and carried to the nest. I think the reason this difficult stick was chosen was that all of the easy sticks were already taken and used by numerous other birds at the rookery. In fact, I observed no small amount of stick thievery from one bird's nest to build another bird's nest.

Equipment / Source:    Canon 5D III, Canon 100-400, f5.6, 1/1250, ISO 1600

Technique:   Hand held and vigilance for the kind of activity I was looking for.

Processing:   PS CC, curves for bringing highlight detail out, small amount of hue/sat and dodge/burn

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

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

Review by Manu R., 6-14-2015
Good action captured with nice clourful, clear details.I think if you could provide more space towards bottom and left the image will be better. Noce one.
N-3, T-3, P-2, E-0, Total-8
Review by Andy H., 6-13-2015
I love this image and can't find anything wrong hence the 10!

If it was mine i would blur or tone down / darken the background. For non competition I would remove the two twigs on the RHS.
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-1, Total =10
Review by Dawn C., 6-20-2015
Exceptional - great tone and detail, strong action and composition lines. The Spoonbill stands out dramatically against the dark background; I'm glad there is still enough information there to give a sense of place. A stunning image.
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-1, Total=10
Review by Bogdan B., 6-20-2015
Butch, your story is interesting, but without your explanation I didn't know, what I'm looking. The background is a little bit distracting, especially the two branches near the tail.
N-2, T-2, P-3, E-0, total=0
Review by Les L., 6-17-2015
The birds color immediately attracts the viewer. The twig behind the birds bill is distracting. Otherwise excellent.
N-3, T-3, P--2, E-0, Total=8
Review by Tom B., 6-25-2015
Love the color, detail and tonality of the spoonbill. I do find the two twigs on the center right a bit distracting. I also think I would darken the background more.
N-3, T-3, P-2, E-0, Total=8
Review by Rick C., 6-26-2015
This image has an excellent nature story. The basic technical aspects all look good. The wing position as the Spoonbill is breaking off the stick for the nest adds to the composition and allows us to see the reds and oranges of full breeding plumage in all of the key areas. The only minor nit is the two twigs projecting into the frame in the right middle. These aren’t worth cropping out, though they are catching just enough light to keep me from giving you a perfect 10. You have a strong image as it is.
N-3, T-3, P-3 = 9

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.