• Crested Tern

    Crested Tern.   Photographer: Mark Lethlean

  • Crimson Rosella

    Crimson Rosella.   Photographer: Doug Castle

  • Nankeen Kestrel

    Nankeen Kestrel.   Photographer: Emmy Silvius

  • Masked Lapwing

    Masked Lapwing.   Photographer: Ian Wilson

  • Australasian Grebe

    Australasian Grebe.   Photographer: Judy Leitch

I commend all entrants for accepting the challenge in this first Entry Level competition for 2015.  Clearly, there is a range of technical expertise, which is to be expected in this category.  Two images were the stand-outs for me and one of these, Image #14717 was the clear winner in terms of its compositional elements and technical expertise.  A close second was Image #14467 followed by three other commended images; #14481, #14822 and #14482.  I congratulate each of these five photographers. Whilst selecting my top images is an essential part of the judging process, the more useful aspect for each of the authors is the image critique, which addresses the key photographic elements that contribute to a high quality image.

Red-rumped Parrot – Mary Wheeler (Image #14717).  A superb portrait of a male Red-rumped Parrot. The image is pin-sharp against an out-of-focus background that adds texture to the image without distracting from the subject. The composition is an interesting back view, which brilliantly displays a key identifying feature, the ‘red-back’, of the male. The image benefits from the oblique head orientation in which both eyes are depicted with subtle highlights. The unique texture of the stump upon which the bird is perched adds a strong visual statement to the image. The only downside to this image is the small foreign element at the lower margin of the birds cheek – this element should be cloned-out using Photoshop’s content-aware. Whilst not a negative aspect, the image might also benefit from a subtle enhancement of the details on the shaded portion of the head, particularly the eye, by applying a local mask and adjusting the shadow slider.

Red-rumped Parrot (Mary Wheeler)

Pale-headed Rosella – Christina Claxton (Image #14467).  A nice portrait of a beautiful species. This Rosella is adequately captured in a clearly defined habitat as it feeds upon the lilac-pink inflorescences, which work extremely well as a subtle contrast to the blue, aqua and yellow plumage of the bird. The image is sharp and the eye has a nice highlight. The reason why this image only just missed first position is as a result of 3 minor defects. The left underwing could benefit from a local mask to bring out a small amount of detail. The forehead highlight and area behind the eye are slightly overexposed with loss of feather detail. A second local mask to recover feather and colour detail on the head using the highlight slider in Lightroom or similar tool in Photoshop (in combination with a little contrast or clarity) would add to the technical merit of the image. The out-of-focus branch behind the back of the bird, as well as the branch in the top left-hand corner, are distracting elements and a mask overlying these branches would benefit from a degree of burning to draw the viewer’s eye back to the main subject.

Pale-headed Rosella (Christina Claxton)

Orange-bellied Parrot – Keith Hindley (Image #14481). One of three portraits of a rare and endangered species that is not often photographed. The image is quite sharp with a pleasant rim light surrounding much of the bird, particularly the tail. The darker out-of-focus background nicely complements the main subject. In an ideal world a splash of fill-light would enhance the chest and abdomen without taking away the rim light around the tail feathers. Whilst out of the photographers control, the horizontal perch is not a strong visual element as in the image of the Red-rumped Parrot.

Orange-bellied Parrot (Keith Hindley)

Eastern Rosella – Jennifer Goldsworthy (Image #14822). An interesting composition of a pair of Eastern Rosellas in a ‘busy’ natural environment. Photographed under harsh natural light, the highlights and shadows have been well controlled. The bright undersides of the weed leaves are not over-exposed, however, the white cheek patches on both birds may show recovered detail with local adjustments to the highlights and exposure sliders. Maintaining detail in the red channel can be difficult and it would be interesting to see if there is more detail to be extracted in the males red head and breast feathers.

Eastern Rosella (Jennifer Goldsworthy)

Orange-bellied Parrot – Keith Hindley (Image#14482). A pleasant capture of the female of the species. The comments that apply to the image of the male of the species (image #14481), equally apply to this image. The branch upon which the bird is perched has more appeal in this image due to its more oblique orientation.

Orange-bellied Parrot (Keith Hindley)

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