Study Group 2


Butch Spielman

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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!

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

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MARCH 2015 ROUND

Title:  House Finches, Courting

Goal:   Always checking out the backyard birds looking for unusual activity.. Noticed two House Finches paying a lot of attention to each other. Shot a series of the activity. Looked it up on the web. House Finches court by the female soliciting food from the male, oftentimes the solicitation has the female imitating a hungry chick. Other images in the series actually show the male feeding the female. House Finches are monogamous.

Source:  Canon 5 D III, 100-400 mm IS lens, f6.3, 1/200 sec, ISO 125

Technique:  Hand-held and braced against the doorway. Always keep the camera ready with shooting parameters pre-set for opportunistic shooting

Processing:  PS CC, Camera Raw, hue and saturation, sharpening in Nik

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

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

Review by Tom B., 3-18-2015
The details in the birds and seed pods are good. I like the diagonal line the branch creates that the finches are on. I do find that the image appears to be a little busy with the seed pods and finches being almost the same color. I think it distracts the image.
N-3, T-3, P-2, E-0, Total-8
Review by Rick C., 3-22-2015
You made a very solid capture in this image. The nature story is strong. The technical execution is solid for the lighting conditions that you had. Primary focus is good as well. The issue here is the serious clutter in the environment. Unfortunately, even a more severe crop would yield only a marginal improvement. This is a solid capture and definitely a keeper for your files or for a nature program, but I fear that the density and clarity of the seed heads on the bush would keep it from being a strong choice for exhibiting.

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


Review by Bogdan Bricelj, 3-28-2015
The birds are sharp with good exposition. But the background is too too busy. Specially behind the birds. If that's your garden, you can cut some branches with cones to get more clear background.
N-3, T-3, P-1, E-0, Total-7


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.