SPC September 2020 Digital Competition

Images entered in the September comp, with awards and the judge's comments
Set colour Beady Eyes - Pauline Kitto  I would like to see the texture of hairs be made more prominent. It is very static. The background has been toned down nicely so that the wall can hardly be noticed. Good effort. Big Daddy - Sue Williamson  This is a very tight crop perhaps to not show too much of its environment. I would be inclined to darken down the left-hand side and the grass strip on the right. Blue-footed Booby - Bruce Williams  Nice colour and feather texture and exposure is good. I might have cropped some from the left-hand side. I don’t think the dark rocks on the left are necessary. Nice action and it is definitely wildlife.
Carmine Bee-eater - Ian Brown - CREDIT  What a beautiful shot of the bee-eater. The colour, exposure composition and sharpness are all very well done. It could only have been bettered if there had been an insect tossed in the air. This may well have been the best of a series of shots. Nicely done. Caspian Tern Lift-off - Kim Touzel - CREDIT  Terns would have to be my favourite birds (any type). This appears to be a simple shot of a common action for these birds. I feel that the author would have been cursing the brown coloured diffused foreground. It could be cropped but would the reflection suffer? Those massive tern wings are shown to great advantage. Delicate - Phil Baldwin  Chasing butterflies is not easy (I know). The specimen looks good but the problem here is one of inadequate DOF. The near wing is much closer to us than the body so that it has not been rendered sharply enough. The white flower in the bottom right-hand corner could be toned down more. Fantailed Cuckoo - Dan Crowley - CREDIT  What a great specimen and how well it has been captured. The soft lighting has shown the eye and the feather detail very well. The new growth on the tree looks nice too. The problem I see is the light toned tree on the right. I imagine this was the best of a series and I can only wonder how it would have looked if taken from a position one or two paces to the right. Also, I feel that half a stop more exposure would lift it.
Galah 1 - Merelyn Deadman  This is a nice portrait of a male galah (black eye) eating a small morsel. It is a nice portrait with a nicely subdued background. Was there some reason for not showing the whole bird? Maybe a half stop less exposure. The soft background is great. Galah 2 - Merelyn Deadman  This is a reasonable portrait of a male galah, but it is rather static. I feel it is hard to show galahs off well on the ground unless there is some sort of action going on. I would like to see this shot a little lighter. The noticeable high light rings in the background are a little distracting. Gimmee! Gimmee! - Barbara Reed  Lemurs are always on the move, so this is a good capture especially with the visual interplay between the two Lemurs. The background has been darkened down well and the alignment of the lemurs is spot on. If only we could see a bit more of the front lemur’s face and eye. I'm Watching You - Pauline Kitto  This appears to be a white lion (lioness?). I doubt if the lion was watching the photograph as lions’ vision is forward the same as ours. It may be the approach of a keeper with food. I wonder how it would look with a bit more contrast to show off the fur and whiskers a bit more. Also darkening down the background on the left would help.
Lion - Anthony Turner  It is a little contrasty for my liking and the slats under the lion are very noticeable. In fact, in this case, I would be inclined to crop some from the right-hand side to make a portrait composition. Mangrove Golden Whistler - Allan Sherringham  This is a lovely specimen, but it is rather static. The light is quite harsh as can be seen from the shadow on the branch. A little flash would have worked wonders here by bringing out feather and eye detail while proportionally darkening the background. Marine Iguana - Bruce Williams  The Iguana appears to sunning itself on the rocks, possibly after diving in the cold current and cropping weed. The harsh sunlight has not helped leading to deep shadow areas. A little fill flash would have made a difference – but of course you would need to have it with you! In overcast weather the shadows would have disappeared and the colour of the eye could then have been seen. Merten's Water Monitor - Robyn Larson-Shelton  This is a lovely specimen showing great colours (breeding season?). The point of sharp focus seems to be around the front legs and falls off a little coming forward around the head. The light tones on the right and the metal on the left detract somewhat. Could it have been possible to take the shot from on or two paces to the right?
Morning Sun - Barbara Reed  When looking at this shot, I get the feeling (rightly or wrongly) that this was a very quick grab shot. Was it taken from a passing boat or was the sea lion moving away? The shadows are a bit dark and the shot is not as sharp as it could be.  Either way it is a good subject and maybe this is the best capture under the circumstances. Morning Swim - Allan Sherringham  This a great shot of a Platypus and a sight not often seen. This will always be a record shot albeit a very good one. It would be hard to show the platypus feeding as this is always under water. A mating shot would have been the pinnacle but very hard to get. I would be inclined to make it half a stop lighter and tone down the lightness in the corners. New Holland Honeyeater - Dave Macquart  I have a feeling that this is a White-Cheeked Honeyeater – the two birds are very similar. It is a pity that the tail has been cut off – was this because something needed to be removed? So, the whole bird and whole flower might have been better – if possible. Flash might have given you an even better shot. Otter - John Shadlow  It is hard to get a good shot of an otter as they are constantly moving. So, you have done well. I would have toned down the foreground by half to one stop. I don’t believe the OOF tree branch at the top helps. I can smell that ever-present fishy smell from here.
Pelican on the Wing - John Shadlow  Pelicans would be my second favourite bird after the terns. I have photographed Pelies on many occasions and it is very easy to get the usual 'bird-in-flight' shot of these beasts on the wing. The pelican shots that are different are pelicans caught bathing (the water goes everywhere) and angles like this with the bird coming straight on. This has been well captured and the feather detail has been well rendered despite the strong sun light. Maybe the whites could be toned down a little which should be easy if this came from a Raw File. Red Eye - Dave Macquart  This is a nice shot of a male Eastern Spinebill feeding. It would be nice to see the whole bird and flower. The eye is great, and the feather detail is as it should be. As an aside, these birds are able to hover like a hummingbird although only for a few seconds at a time. Siamang Gibbon - Robin Pitcher  This Siamang may well have been photographed on an overcast day which has allowed good fur detail. I would like to see the whole animal (top and bottom). It is fairly static. Siamangs are usually in family groups and are usually interacting or doing dare devil antics on ropes and uprights. Sulphur Crested White Cockatoos - Matt Kaarma  The cockatoos are shown in a typical interaction. These birds are loud and quite feisty when in groups. It is always good to see the crest raised as in the upper bird here. I would have preferred to see this cropped as a portrait format by removing the right and left sides. The birds are shown against a bland light toned sky which I think could be improved by masking the birds and darkening the sky to a mid-blue. The nature story is good, and the action is well caught.
Sumatran Tiger - Robin Pitcher  If you watch tigers pacing up and down at your local zoo they sooner or later yawn. Yawning makes a great photo as the teeth and raspy tongue make a great shot. This tiger’s head is nice and sharp, but it is once again only a portrait. I imagine Sumatran Tigers like water so watch out for a bathing shot. Water Runner - Dan Crowley - MERIT  I like this shot for its simplicity and soft muted colours. The nature story is strong as the bird is possibly chasing a fish that has just moved. The sense of movement is evident in the slightly blurred wing tips. The eye is beautifully sharp (always a must) and the feet are beautifully animated. Nicely muted foreground and background. Whistling Kite - Robyn Larson-Shelton - CREDIT  This is a lovely capture of a raptor with a tasty morsel in the beak. It is a successful BIF shot with the bird almost level with the photographer. There is nothing worse than a ‘bird-in-flight’ shot where the bird is going away. When that happens, the photographer has failed.  I would have liked to see this bird not so tightly cropped – it feels very cramped when showing a bird in full flight. I think the shadows could be opened up a little. White-faced Heron - Kim Touzel - MERIT  This tells a good nature story – feeding. The heron is beautifully exposed and the colour, contrast sharpness and DOF are all spot on. I wonder what happened immediately after this shot – did the weed cause a problem? The background and foreground are nicely subdued, I imagine, by the use of a long lens used fairly wide open.
White-headed Pigeon - Matt Kaarma  We are looking at the back of the bird with the head in focus, but the body is not. The background in nicely diffused but I might have toned down the light areas. I find the large mass of OOF body a bit distracting. Maybe half a stop more exposure. Wild Dog Clean-up - Ian Brown  This is a good example of wildlife in action. The story here is not of the chase and the kill but what might be a duel action of drinking and cleaning up bloodied faces at the same time. The reflections are nice and the exposure and colour are good. Did you take shots of individual dogs? Set Monochrome Baby Zebra - Robin Pitcher  This is a nice portrait of the young zebra and could have been taken in a zoo or in the wild. These young zebras don’t stay still for long and are always running and jumping. An action shot would have been great. The focus is good, and exposure and contrast are good. I feel a bit more could be shown of the eye by dodging slightly.
Currarong - Kim Touzel Fantailed Cuckoo - Dan Crowley - MERIT  The cuckoo has been nicely captured with the added bonus of the bird calling. The feather detail is nicely shown, and the bird looks lively. I like the toning down in the corners and the background is nice and clear. I would have liked the head to have been a little more around to show the eye, but this was probably one of a series and may have been the best. Mother & Child - Eastern Greys - Sue Williamson - CREDIT  This is a nice bonding shot of the kangaroos. I would have preferred a lower taking angle to have the dark background behind them. At this age, the young ones often perform a type of sparring action which often leads to an embrace by Mum. Could more be drawn out of the eyes? Mother & Child Chimp - Sue Williamson  I believe these are Siamangs. Even more detail could be shown in the adult’s fur. The composition is good and the look on the baby’s face is lively. It is let down by the grasses and sticks in the FG and the stem on the right.
Snow Leopard - Barbara Reed  Like most of the other big cat shots in this comp this is a portrait of the animal at rest. Moving, jumping, yawning etc make for better shots. But of course, you have made the most of what was in front of you. The exposure is fairly good, but I think more could be brought out of the area around the eyes by change of local contrast and dodging. The King of Dubbo - Bruce Williams  This is another big cat portrait. To stand out from the others it should be different. It has been nicely captured but a little more contrast and clarity for the mid tones would have given more bite to the image. Zebra - John Shadlow  I like the repetition in the zebras’ heads and necks. This may be an occasion when showing only the heads and necks and front legs might have been preferable. Exposure and contrast are good, but the heads might have been shown to greater effect by facing the light or on a cloudy day Open Colour
Boat Harbour - Anthony Turner  This appears to be a shot of Boat Harbour and the cemetery at Gerringong. I have taken shots here myself but concentrating on the head stones. There is an old cliché about dividing an image in two with the horizon and I think this is happening here. I feel this shot could be better if it had more cemetery and less sky – but this is a person opinion. Exposure and colour are good. Bombo - Phil Baldwin - MERIT, PHOTO OF THE MONTH  It’s good to see shots of Bombo that are not of Bombo Rocks. This has a wonderful feel to it and the author has made the most of the overcast conditions. As far as the weather goes this has either been well planned or just lucky. The colour wash is great, the surf looks good and the clouds show the right amount of movement. It has been very well done. Cactus - Matt Kaarma  Sometimes I feel my brain is like this. I am not too sure about the composition and the lighting is very flat. It might have been photographed away from home, but if not, I would like to see it as a still life lit with a strong side light. Lawn - Philomena Kaarma  I wish this was my front lawn. When I look at this, I think of the many years of playing golf on fairways like this. This may not be a fairway, but it does have that look. It is a pleasant landscape and once again the pseudo horizon (though small) could be straightened a little. Colour and exposure are good.
Mountain Lake - Dave Macquart  This is one of the few landscapes in the comp and the mountains look quite impressive. I feel that the exposure could be lifted by half to one stop and the dramatic sky could be made more dramatic and contrasty. I would crop the part tree from the LHS. I get a chance here to talk about an obsession of mine – horizons. Well, there is not an obvious horizon here but there is a pseudo or de facto horizon line on the far bank. Straightening this up is easy to do. On the Wing - Ian Brown - MERIT  These Red Necked Avocets are on the wing flying low over the water. Whenever birds fly close to the water there is the chance of reflections. The birds are sharp and the wing action is obvious from the differing positions on the birds. Exposure and colour are good and the water surface is not obtrusive. I wonder how it would look with the bottom third cropped and a very slight crop from the right. Mother and Daughter - Pam Allen - CREDIT  Hoping not to offend anyone, I believe this is in the same category as the Eastern Grey and Siamang shots – family bonding.  The child’s face has been shown nicely and Mum is obviously very proud. The little girl’s face might be better rendered a little lighter to show off those lovely eyes. Mum’s face is pointing in the right direction and leads our gaze to the child. I find the wispy hair on Mum’s neck to be a little off putting. Rose - Pam Allen  This is a well captured image of a rose. The lower petals have been toned down as they appear to be other than in pristine condition. Exposure and colour are good and the water droplets give a fresh feel to the shot.
Shabby Chique - Pauline Kitto  This is an interesting shot of a wall that has seen better days. The layers of wallpaper and the wall structure underneath would likely look good close up. I think a front on shot of the peeling wallpaper might have worked out better. Whistling Ducks - Robyn Larson-Shelton  The ducks made good subject matter but there are a few problems here. The shot is very contrasty and that can be lowered in editing. The foreground is a bit messy and the background is a bit distracting. Keep at it because perfecting your technique on subjects like these makes it easier when you move on to harder nature subjects. Open Mono Carrington Falls - Anthony Turner  The falls look impressive and I guess the photographer was there for a short period of time and maybe at the wrong time of day.  The water in the falls in burned out showing no water texture at all. If possible, a repeat taken on a cloudy day or before or after the sun has risen would help a lot.
Paddling - Merelyn Deadman  This has been well spotted but how do you make the most of a subject like this. I think it could be improved by a crop in closer to the LH  upright and taking a little from the top. Maybe the shadow areas on the paddler could be opened up a little. Otherwise nicely spotted and a little different. Scary - Phil Baldwin Woolloomooloo - Allan Sherringham  I know the eastern suburbs of Sydney well being an old Bondi boy.  This may have been taken during ‘Lock Down” as there is only one pedestrian and one car. It has been shot looking into the light and I feel it would show this better if the exposure was lightened by at least one stop. Moving to the right and showing some of those umbrellas might have given more foreground interest. Photo of the Month
Bombo - Phil Baldwin - MERIT, PHOTO OF THE MONTH-1