Study Group 1

Maria Korab-Laskowska

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Title:  Komodo Dragon running

Goal:   Catch the dragon in motion with tongue sticking out

Source:  Canon 7D with Canon lens 7-200 f4

Technique:  Waited low on the ground until the dragon was at the right position. It was hard to get non distracting background because of many photographers.

Processing:  some cropping and added tonal contrast.

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

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

Review by Dan C., 3-13-2015
Your waiting paid off and created a nice image. It could be a bit sharper. Unfortunately those same photographers who caused you problems with the background also knocked this image out of the nature category because of the multiple shoe sole treads all over the ground. These human elements are a knockout punch. The exposed tongue and the leg in the air provide good nature story but not enough to overcome the human elements. Without the foot prints, this would have scored 3 in the nature field.

Pictorially your image has good composition. Your tonal contrast helped but did not go far enough. If you have NIK Viveza 2, use the shadow adjustment slider to open up the shadow side of the dragon. Make fine adjustments with the structure and contrast sliders. The structure slider will bring out the details of the scales better and add the slight additional sharpness you need. You can also use the Shadow/Highlight tool in Photoshop to accomplish the same with the exception of the sharpening.

N-1, T-2, P-3, E-0, Total=6

Review by Patty E., 3-21-2015
Interesting subject, good that you got the tongue out. The shadows are a bit bothersome to me. Perhaps some lightening and clarity would improve the image.
N-2, T-2, P-3, E-0, Total=7

Review by Jerry S., 3-25-2015
The concept for the image is good but the footprints previously mentioned eliminate it from the nature category.

The left rear and right front foot are blurred. The focus on the face is good and the DOF is adequate to achieve sharpness from head to tail. Since the blurred portions are those parts in motion and appear to be within the DOF, it suggests the shutter speed was inadequate to freeze the motion. A shadows/highlights adjustment in Photoshop to reduce the shadows enhances the impact of the skin texture.

The tongue and movement give the image excitement. A very low camera angle, perhaps at eye level, might produce a very dramatic perspective and would greatly reduce the distraction of the footprints.
N-1, T-2, P-3, E-0, Total=6

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Title:  Black-capped Chickadee

Goal: to photograph a bird in flight approaching or leaving a feeder but without the feeder in the frame

Source:  Canon 7D with Canon 300mm f/2.8 at 1/5000, f/4; ISO 640

Technique:  I was using tripod, focused on the bird feeder then switched to manual focus, moved camera so feeder was not in the frame and waited patiently when a bird flew in my frame at the distance of my focus.The ratio of the success was very low. I was in the park and did not know the typical bird's route to approach the feeder. There was more than one tree around so birds could approach the feeder from several directions. Any suggestion to improve ratio of good images using such technique of focusing would be very appreciate.

Processing: Cropped (1/4 of the whole image), sharpened

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

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

Review by Dan C., 9-6-2014
Another case where patience paid off. Not much you can do to increase your success rate when the site is not on your own property. In that case the main step to improve your success rate is to provide obstacles to the approaches to the feeder to limit the directions the birds can come from. You might be able to get permission to set something up in the park but I would not do it without that permission. What you set up would depend on the feeder design. If it is a platform, the best obstructions would be sides on three sides of the platform with brush bristles at the top of each side so they do not become convenient perches.

The Chickadee itself is in an active braking to land pose. That adds a bit more story to a bird flight shot. The background is nicely blurred out. The bird is adequately sharp in the study group image size but falls apart when blown up like it would be in projection. When I know I want to do a significant crop, I will generally resize the image first to a higher resolution and image size using the OnOne Perfect Resize plugin. That generally give me a higher quality image when I do the actual cropping.

At ISO 640, your 7D exhibited the same noise problems I mentioned with Bruce. Your cropping exaggerated this digital noise. The NIK Define plugin or the Topaz DeNoise plugin would help here.

N=3, T=1, P=3, E=0, Total=7


My photographic interests started in Maryland, 2002, when I joined the National Institute of Health Camera Club. After moving back to Montreal in 2004, I joined Lakeshore Camera Club.

I am using a Canon 7D camera and the following Canon lenses: 24-100L IS f4, 70-200 L IS f 4, macro 100 L2.8, 17-35L f2.8, 300L IS f2.8, extenders 1.4 and 2.0. My post processing workflow includes Bridge or Lightroom, Photoshop CS5 and NIK and Photomatix software.

I came into photography with a love for nature and a passion for the outdoors. My photographic interests started in 2002, and since then I photographed many subjects, ranging from environment and architecture to animals and sports. In 2009 I graduated from a Commercial Photography Program at Dawson College in Montreal. I organize photo tours and workshops and enjoy sharing my regional knowledge and passion for photography.