Study Group 2


Butch Spielman

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MAY 2015 ROUND

Title:  Love Triangle

Goal:   Capture waterfowl doing what they do.

Equipment / Source:  Canon 5D III, 100-400 mm, f 5.6, 1/3200 sec, ISO 500, hand held

Technique:  This March, I was watching waterfowl that were pairing up for nesting later on the breeding grounds. I noticed a blue wing teal pair. A unpaired drake approached from the rear and interjected himself between the paired hen and drake. Only a few seconds later there was an explosion of action and it was game on. This image captures that moment of explosion. It was important to me to not only show the image where the drakes go into action but also show the impressive amount of power generated by these small ducks with just their feet pushing against the water. Also, the hen in the background is quacking it up. I have the whole image sequence (5) images. The battle actually took place behind where the conflict starts and ends with the original paired drake jumping into the air and landing on the interloper. I just liked this image better than that one. Oh, the interloper lost both the battle and the war.

Processing: PS camera raw with minor hue3/sat adjustment in PS

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

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

Review by Tom B., 5-22-2015
The stop action in the image is great and the detail of what is visible is good. I find it hard to find a single focus point and the action is hard to define with all the water splashing around without using your explanation of what was happening. The series of 5 images would probably produce a much better story to the viewer.
N-3, T-3, P-2, E-0, Total-8
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APRIL 2015 ROUND
Title:   Blue Heron Landing

Goal:    Was trying to shoot birds in flight. Was going to discard this shot because it was not a classical head on shot but when I saw the wing configurations I was made to think, "flaps down, spoilers up" to effect a soft landing. Birds are amazing things they are!

Equipment / Source:    Canon 5D III, 100-400 lens, f 7.1, 1/2500 and Iso 3200

Technique:   Find the heron and wait and watch

Processing:   Camera Raw, PS CC hue/sat, dodge/burn, sharpen in Nik

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

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

Review by Les L., 4-8-2015
I think this is an excellent shot except as you point out, the bird is not facing the camera. My preference, on shots like this, is to burn the background to minimize it.
N-3, T-3, P-1, E-0, Total=7
Review by Tom B., 4-22-2015
I also prefer the head on shot with eyes visible. However, you did capture wonderful detail in the feathers of the great blue. The bird stands out and is not lost in the background grasses. For your goal I think you captured well.
N-3, T-3, P-2, E-0, Total=8
Review by Andy H., 4-23-2015
I like this image as it shows a different approach to the traditional head-on or in flight image. Its sharp, with the exception of the neck, not sure why. The image flows and the colours are faithful. At 3200 ISO I see little sign of grain. The one annoying thing is that reed stem over the foot! why is it that there is often a piece of grass or stem over an eye or other important part of the subject. I would possibly tone down the green of the grass on the RHS of the head.
N-3, T-3, P-3, E-0, Total=9
Review by Bogdan B., 4-26-2015
The image is interested to see the feathers of the heron lending. Otherwise photos from behind are not very interested. Small aperture has given you large DOF all the wings to be sharp. But it's not good that also the plants behind are too sharp.
N-3, T-3, P-1, E-0, Total=7
Reviewed by Rick C., 5-1-2015
As you note in your comment, birds are amazing and this shot has a good story from the perspective of all that is involved in their flight. Primary focus looks fine. DOF seems reasonable. We are under exposed by at least a full stop, possibly a stop and a half. In the large view, the feathers look a little soft. Given that you shot at iso 3200, I ‘m guessing some NR was applied and it may have been just a little too heavy. Remember in PS CC you can apply the global NR in the Sharpening tab, but then reduce it locally with an Adjustment Brush control point. That is generally the balancing act I find myself in when doing high iso work. With the exposure correction this will be a good image for a show on birds in flight. It may be interesting enough to even go in a salon (with both the exposure correction and the moderation of the NR). It is an unusual angle and very different from the typical GBH shot.

N-3, T-2, P-2 = 7 (P-3 with exposure corrected, T-3 with added detail in the feathers)


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.