BIRDS AS ART ON-LINE Notes October 16, 2002
THE FIRST CRITIQUE
Thanks to Chuck Loftis,
who joined us for last year's San Diego IPT, for permitting me to
publish the links to his images along with my critique of his work
(done last night totally over the internet!) Chucks comments
Nice image but nothing to get
excited about. This pelican is in the lower half of the
looking-great-pool.... Ratty plumage from molting. Exposure
perfect for undersides.
A bit tight in the frame, from to
much cropping? Bird seems to be angled slightly away from the
film plane. We'd both like to see the whole near wing in the
frame. The one to try for: a killer breeding plumage bird
coming in for a landing with feet hanging down...
Wow, That's a cool plumage, one
that I have never seen before. The bird is a classic
first-winter. I like the image (cause I ain't seen this
plumage before!. The bird's head is turned away from the film
plane (or the CMOS sensor...) It is often better to have the
bird's head turned 2 or 3 degrees towards
the film plane rather than exactly parallel to it. Why?
That usually ensures a highlight in the eye, perfect lighting
on the face (assuming a good sun-angle), and more importantly,
it places the bill tip on the exact same plane as the eye
which adds tremendously to the apparent sharpness of the
image. I love the reflection, esp. the reflection of the
head. And, I like the wake, and the position of the bird in
the frame--a good balance of wake and space.
You've made a good image here in a tough
situation, shooting from well above the bird. Biggest nit, bird
facing slightly away from the film plans. I like the OOF
grasses in the foreground. Exposure good. Pointing the camera a
bit more to the left would have yielded a slightly better
composition with the bird farther back in the frame. Playing
devil's advocate here, if you point the camera left a bit, you
loose the nice stuff in the water, i.e., the wake.... Perhaps
more forward in the frame would have worked.... with more wake,
and, this would eliminate the one tall bit of grass in the lower
Whew, this one has impact! What a wing. A
bit tight on the wingtip....but Lord, how I love the detail in
the wing. Looks as if you used flash very well here. For
printing, I'd clone out the two little bits of white shell below
and behind the bird, and probably the tiny black open mollusk
there as well. Then, I'd add some space behind the bird. Tim
Gray had a piece on how best to do that in a very recent DDQ.
Forgot to mention, love that sand and the patterns. Could only
be LSB. Also, I'd clone out the extra pair of legs in the upper
left, but all in all, a wonderful image that I would be proud of
JAP. Just about perfect. Great exposure and
love the way digital reduces contrast. For printing, I'd crop
the reflection of the white belly out from the bottom and crop
from behind about 1/3 of the way in from the frame edge to the
bird's tail. This would eliminate the little silver streaks
creeping into the frame. Not quite the impact of the previous
image, but very well done.
Ah, lots to comment on here... Bird way to
centered. For small-in-the-frame vertical subjects, strive for
the rule of thirds or even deeper in the corner. Perch way to
scraggly. If you are fine with removing all the skinny
branches, I'd go for it. Also, must crop out what looks like a
bird's head on the bottom frame edge. Blue-sky silhouette a
good try, but no great impact. Lastly, best to catch the
flapping action with the wings both fully extended overhead and
to the rear. Well, a not-to-good one heat leaves me feeling as
if I am earning my $$.
Do not like this one either for many
reasons. First off, it seems that you will not crop out the
crap digitally--i.e., the white schmutz on the rocks. Am I
correct here? Do not like:
1-the rather high light angle, not unduly
harsh, but high...
2-The right-hand bird's shut eye.
3-The preening bird's shaded head and face,
as well as the fact that you cannot see its eye.
4-The bits of white schmutz on the rocks.
I do like the juxtaposition of the bird in
the back left with the preening bird, though it would have been
a stronger image if the back bird had its head turned so that it
was looking out of the frame.
f/22 and be there! Very well done. I love the way the two
breaking waves (or are they rock shadows?) in the distance frame
the birds' heads just about perfectly. A simple crop off the
right side would make this a winner by eliminating the little
rock on top of the rock on the lower right frame-edge. Great
use of DOF.
Great subject, great light. Background OK...
Could have moved left or right for possibly cleaner or darker
background. Great choice of subject with killer red bill.
Biggest avoidable problem, bird's head and bill angled away from
the film plane. I do remember having said many times, for the
best preening images, the bird's head needs to be parallel to
the film plane and the eye needs to be visible... (see the
Western Gull Family for that one...)
Very nicely done. I remember that bird, old
carpet neck... This one is just about perfect. I love the
perfect and creative job of framing this one. Only nit, bird
seems to have its eye shut a teench as they often do when
preening. You did, however, follow the preening guidelines set
forth above--they really do help you to produce stronger
Chuck's critique of my critique:
Artie, You get an "A+", 10/10, or maybe better. Thanks for the
I think your IPT promoted me from the class of "cropped tails" and
"centered subjects". It also helped me to get the technicals
correct (sharpness, exposure, background and foreground
considerations, basic composition). Your post-IPT critique has
pointed out more subtle flaws in my images, subtle, because I
could not see them. You pointed out some things I just didn't see
at all, but they were right there in front of me. Sometimes,
composition is still an issue and I may still need help in the
future. I think a remote critique of images made months after an
IPT is a terrific idea. It serves as "continuous process of
improvement". Funny how we need to be reminded of some standard
rules: "head parallel to film plane", etc.. The final phases of
this process must deal with "getting the magic and feeling" into
the shots. That appears as a large stepping stone off in the
horizon. I was in a slump, but now I have some new goals to
consider. The critique was worth a lot more than the money spent,
and turn around time was fantastic.
"If you aren't pushing the envelope, you aren't learning
anything." - Chuck Loftis