Study Group 2

Les Lincke

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Title:  Hummingbird With Friend 

Goal:   To capture interesting hummingbird images.

Equipment / Source:  Raw w/ nikon 810; 28-300 mm lens at 300 mm; 1/8000 sec., f5.6, ISO 800 

Technique:   Eight or ten hummingbirds were flying around a feeder which was above my head. I was trying to get several birds together in one shot and came up with this.

Processing:   Cropped and sharpened.

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

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

Review by Butch S., 8-19-2015
I have been shooting hummingbirds for some time and it is a difficult sport. Your image is really special in that you have a hummer plus a bug. I have just learned that hummers need protein in their diet and they get that protein from bugs. Was your image an attempt to have a nice meal? I am going to say so and call it a great nature shot.

I see you shot at 1/8000 sec and used 800 ISO. I think some noise reduction would be appropriate. Also, I would like to see how the birda belly would look with a little dodging.
N-3, T-2, P-3, E-0, Total-8
Review by Bruce F., 8-22-2015
It’s a good serendipity nature shot, where you got the yellow jacket in the same frame as hummingbird. I also think that your lens 28 – 300 mm zoom isn’t the sharpest available and that why there is quite a bit of noise in the image, you can see it in the blue sky, in the hummingbird wings, even in the hummingbird’s body. Overall, the lens isn’t giving you the quality a straight telephoto lens with a large aperture like 300 mm f2.8 or 500 mm or 600 mm f4.0. If you want better quality images I think you need to upgrade if you can.
I do like the position of the hummingbird wings and the angle of view. The light is OK, not great. I think with a better lens you would have an image where the quality of light even here would be better captured.
Also, maybe some noise reduction applied correctly would help. I am not a Nikon shooter, but I think the Nikon 810 should handle ISO 800 with ease and without noise, that why I think that here it is the lens, at 36 plus mega pixels you should have plenty of room to crop.
N-3, T-1, P-2, E-0, Total-6
Review by Andy H., 8-22-2015
I'm not sure of the story here. There are a few technical issues, but frankly I'm not surprised. Its a very difficult shot to get. The image is very grainy and looks over sharpened or the shadows are over recovered giving it a flat, less defined look. I do like to see movement in the wings but its not working here. The colours are not well defined. DOF is fine.
The shot is unusual with the bird & the bug.
N-2, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-6
Review by Jerry S., 8-24-2015
The insect and bird together is probably fortuitous but still deserves a top nature score. From the amount of noise visible with iso at 800 on a D810, I would guess this is a very severe crop that uses only a very small segment of the D810 frame, something equivalent to a 100%+ view on screen. The bill and eye on the bird are sharp but the yellow jacket is soft/noisy throughout. With a closer view or longer lens, this would have been a great capture.
N-3, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-7

Review by Dan C., 8-25-2015
You captured a lucky juxtaposition of the two creatures.  Flight shots always have story value but if there was an obvious interaction between the yellow jacket and the hummingbird, the story would have been even stronger. Here it appears they just happen to be flying in the same direction.  Something you could not control is the separation between the hummingbird and the wasp but more space would have been nice.

I do not know the amount of cropping and resizing you did but I feel it has caused a definite increase in digital noise on a body that has a good reputation for high ISO noise performance.  This appears to be one image where resizing within Photoshop or Lightroom is not be best choice.  Several third-party plug-ins have better algorithms for upsizing images will much lower loss of quality, especially the OnOne Perfect Resize. The exposure appears a bit muddy and flat but the cropping may have contributed to that as well.  The halo effect gives this image the impression of being oversharpened but I do not believe that is the case.  I feel those halos are due to the high contrast between the dark subjects and the bright sky.  Other edges within the image would also exhibit halos if it was oversharpened.
N2, T2, P2, E0 – Total 6

Review by Dawn C., 8-28-2015
Nice capture of the two in flight. These are extremely hard to get. Overall, it looks very dark with a lot of noise, clipping in the shadows, and lack of color in the birds feathers. All which lead me to the conclusion it was underexposed. Since you were shooting in raw you may be able to bring some of the life back. I see you mentioned sharpening. Not sure if you did this just on the subject, or overall. I stay away from general sharpening since it will add noise to a clear blue sky or soft background that you don't want. Also, when I'm using a zoom lens, I try to stay away from the extremes of the zoom range and f-stop. That way the technical performance of the lens is maximized and I get better results.
N-3, T-1, P-2, E-0, Total-6

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Title:   Hartebeest With Calf

Goal:   To get an Acceptance in competition.

Equipment / Source:   Raw w/ Nikon 7000, 18-300 mm lens at 250 mm. ISO 400; F 5.6 at 1/350.

Technique:   Taken from a Range Rider on safari.

Processing:   Cropped, sharpened, saturated on PS.

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

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

Review by Butch S., 7-20-2015
A very good and interesting nature shot. Nice and sharp. Suggest that the calf be dodged a bit where in shadow. Would like to see the cow and calf more to right so that there is less wasted space on the right. Also, consider rule of thirds. To me, more space to the left is not so bad since the third animal is looking int that direction.
N-3, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total=8
Review by Bruce F., 7-20-2015
This has the potential to be a great image. The one thing really holding in back is the merger with the hartebeest on the left, perhaps a calf from last year. Why? It’s the merger; this merger ruins a great moment of the young suckling underneath the mother. The image would be so much cleaner visually without this third hartebeest. I am tempted to clone it out. It would not qualify for nature category. But still, it would be such a better image, pictorially! It’s nature photography after all, and for something like this it makes such a great difference.
As a photographer I would be whispering to this third hartebeest to move and get out of the way. If not possible, I still would have move myself to clear the merger, so at least the third hartebeest body parts would not touch the other two hartebeests—the mother and youngster.
The other problem that I have is with the post processing. The hide of the mother and third hartebeest’ face and body are clip and blown out--places where at least one channel is clipped. I would re-process the raw file, pulling back on the highlights, and reducing some of the saturation. Even with this low lighting, it’s just too hot, too strong, and needs to be dialed back. The lighting is too hot. The youngster feeding, even along its back has some fur texture. That’s what I want is the texture of the hide to show, if there is no fur texture, then, it’s too hot, and exposure and highlights in the raw file need to be reduced. A bit too warm, maybe, that’s because the blue channel might have been clipped. Look at the histogram in the raw file and get the highlights back, so the right edge is not clipped. You’ll have a much more pleasing image.

I dearly hope you have one without the third hartebeest, with the same suckling position of the calf. Maybe, it’s there in your series, and you haven’t seen it yet. If not, one without any mergers would be better, and correct processing would help even this image.
N-3, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total=7
Review by Rick C., 7-23-2015
The nursing behavior definitely adds to the nature story here. Primary focus and DOF look OK. The exposure is a touch hot as we are losing the detail in the calf’s butt. This is small enough that I don’t feel it to be critical. There is a definite warmth here. If you were shooting very early or late, then the color of the lighting is natural. Whether a judge would take the longer shadow into account and assume that is more of a toss up. The angle we have is unfortunate as the mother’s nose merges with the second adult’s butt and its leg is coming out of the calf. There is little you could about it when working from a vehicle on safari, but it will be a factor in scoring. I do agree that cropping some on the right side will strengthen the composition. Good execution for the conditions.
N-3, T-3, P-2 = 8 (We need the separation of the three animals to get closer to the potential.)
Review by Andy H., 7-24-2015
Good strong image with lots of story. Looks to have been taken in strong light. Image appears a little soft and movement in the horns. Colour balance doesn't feel right. DOF, I would have liked the one at the back to be sharp or separated from the pair at the front. Do you have a little more foreground you could add?
N-3, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total=7
Review by Dawn C., 7-29-2015
Fabulous nature story and I love how the Mom's eyes directly engage the viewer. The positioning of that third Hartebeest takes away from an otherwise excellent shot. Could you have moved a little to the left without disturbing the animals? That might have given some separation between that animal and the nursing pair. Consider cropping off some of the grass to the right. The harsh lighting added its own challenges-the blacks looked clipped on my monitor. I don't know if you can bring out any detail in the horns.
N-3, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-7
Review by Bogdan B., 8-2-2015
It's a nice nature image. For me, the crop is too tight. If you have any space up and down and left, give the photo more space.
N-3, T-3, P-2, E-0, Total-8

I live in Ft. Myers, FL. and Blowing Rock, NC. I am a retired business executive who travels extensively and enjoys photography as one of my many hobbies. I also participate in the PSA Travel Study Group. I look forward to being involved in this nature group.