Study Group 2

Les Lincke

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Title:   Honeybee

Goal:   To improve my skills taking macro photos. I am hoping to get some hints to use in future closeup photos.

Equipment / Source:   Nikon 810 w/ 50 mm lens at 1/500 at f13. ISO 3200

Technique:   Handheld

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 Mike P.
You've definitely achieved your goal of getting a good start in macro photography. This was an excellent subject. The photo was framed nicely, and the purple curl on the right certainly added a pretty accent. The focus was sharp. As you expand your macro work, I'd suggest exploring subjects that really generate a "wow" factor, whether it's a bee doing something exciting, a pretty close-up of a flower, etc. I gave you a score of 2 in the nature column, simply because it was a "here I am" type picture. It completely fit the definition of a nature photo but there was nothing exciting or "knocks my socks off" type of shot. I'm sure you will continue to improve as you get more and more practice with your macro work. For these reasons, I also gave you a 2 for pictorial quality. The composition was good but it seemed to lack significant story or emotional impact. I also realize that moving to that kind of level takes a great deal of practice and work.
N-2, T-3, P-2, E-0, Total-7
Review by Dawn C.
Great detail, with focus maintained along the entire body as a result of the body being parallel to the sensor. There are some add things happening along the edges. I don't know if this occurred when it was photographed, or in post-processing sharpening. From experience, I find it best to keep the sharpening on the main subject with feathering on the tool to avoid an abrupt transition, and I stay away from the edges. I'd also recommend reducing the noise in the background.
N-2, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-6
Review by Andy H.
Interesting image. How close can you get! It looks a little over cooked for me but still a great image.
N-2, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-6

Review by Maria K-L
Composition and and point of view is good.This is a difficult shot as your ISO is already very high and we still do not have enough dof.
Trying to keep subject parallel to the lens and using tripod might help to get the whole subject sharp.
Significant crop and high ISO could reduce image quality as well- the image is not very clear.
N-2, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-6
Review by Jerry S
The nature story was a little weak because the bee was not actively feeding but is beyond the “look at me” stage. Technically there are a couple of issues that distract from the overall presentation. A large percentage of the eye appears white, probably due to reflection from the surface of the eye. The rear legs have what appears to be red color fringing. This fringing also appears along the back and on parts of the upper leg but to a lesser extent. I am not sure of the cause but over sharpening might be a contributor.
N-3, T-2, P-2, E-0, Total-7
Review by Cindy M
You accomplished your goal of beginning macro photography. It’s a very nice image with good composition. It’s actually quite sharp for being handheld. It would have been nice to see the bee doing something, like feeding. The color of the flower really shows off the subject. I see some fringing around the legs, but I’m not sure what could have caused that.
N-2, T-3, P-3, E-0, Total-8

Review by Rick C
Starting from the top this is not a honeybee, but rather one of the fly mimics, possibly a Drone Fly. I’m out in Wyoming at the moment and don’t have access to my ID books. The basic composition is good and the concept of getting an insect while feeding is a good way to approach getting good insect images. You don’t say how you got this level of magnification. If it was from a severe crop on the original frame, it may account for some of the significant quality issues here. Primary focus seems to be on the shoulder which is not uncommon in insect photography. The DOF was not adequate to hold a significant level of detail through the body into the head, which is a must. There is some significant color fringing around the legs (showing as reddish pink) and dark splotches at points in the flower and on the BG. It makes it almost seem like a cut out, but again if this is a major crop off an original frame it may be related to that. I would have thought an 810 would have had sufficient resolution for even a major crop, but at iso 3200 it could be that is not the case. We’ll need to get beyond these basics before moving on to the finer points of good insect photography. I applaud the effort, but unfortunately this pass is a failure. By the way, is the 50 mm lens a 50 macro? You will be better off with either a 100 or even a 180 macro for insect work as it will help significantly with working distances.

N-2, T-1, P-1 = 4 (The right idea but technical flaws really hold this one back.)

From Bogdan B., 9-25-2015
I like the color of flower with respect to background and the insect. The eye seems sharp to me, but the hair on the back is not. Pink and blue outlines on the legs and the edges of the flower are perhaps color aberation, which can be corrected in LR and many other programs.
N-3, T-1, P-3, E-0, Total-7

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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

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.