IPT Student Getting Too Good? Part II with Image Critiques

brown-bear-cub-with-salmon-leftover_m7e8926-geographic-harbor-katmai-national-park-ak-iso1000-800mm-f56-1-800_0

Coastal Brown Bear Cub with salmon sliver, Geographic Harbor, Katmai National Park, AK. Image courtesy of and copyright 2011: Clemens van der Werf. This image was created with the tripod-mounted Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 1000. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/800 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode.

Critique 21/32. I love this one a ton. So sharp, the salmon scrap could not be better, and tons of detail in the fur. Perfect head angle. You could deal with two or three of the round white areas in front of the bear with a large 40% Opacity Clone Stamp Tool. The larger white area behind the hump will be harder to deal with as it merges with the fur…. I’d use the same tool and try to work very gently around the fur surely having to settle for losing a bit of detail in the fuzzy fur. One of these years I will learn to use Refine Mask from Tim Grey.

IPT Student Getting Too Good?

Many regular readers learned of Clemens van der Werf in this post: “Mystery Photographer & Experience Level Revealed!” The short story is that Clemens has been on virtually every IPT since attending the 2010 SW FLA IPT. He has been on the Homer IPT, the Bosque IPT, the San Diego IPT, the JBWR/Nickerson IPT, and most recently he attended the 2011 Bear Boat IPT. He is still so eager to learn that he will be returning to Bosque with us this year. (Hey, we still have a single opening….) Prior to his first IPT he had photographed only sailboats, his dogs, and his daughter. His skills have improved steadily.

The problem is that he has gotten too, too good.

His Coastal Brown Bear images from the last Bear Boat IPT (we have several openings for next July’s trip) relect continuing growth in all areas of his photography. His exposures are pretty much spot-on, he has perfected his sharpness techniques, and he makes all the obvious images. But his biggest area of improvement is in seeing and creating new and different images. See the first and third images here as prime examples.

You can now click here for IPT information.

brown-bear-sleeping-on-its-back_m7e0314-kubak-bay-katmai-national-park-ak-iso1250-800mm-f56-1-500_0

Coastal Brown Bear dreaming sweet dreams, Kukak Bay Katmai National Park, AK. Image courtesy of and copyright 2011: Clemens van der Werf. This image was created with the tripod-mounted Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 1250. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/500 sec. at f/5.6.

Critique 24/32. You outdid me by miles on this one with perfect image optimization and a killer pose. Your perspective was perfect allowing for the nice use of the grass in front of the bear and a sweet background. Just enough depth of field wide open to leave both sets of claws sharp enough.

brown-bear-drinking-close-up-yellow-reflection_m7e0352-geographic-harbor-katmai-national-park-ak-iso2000-1120mm-f90-1-500_0

Coastal Brown Bear sipping, Geographic Harbor, Katmai National Park, AK. Image courtesy of and copyright 2011: Clemens van der Werf. This image was created with the tripod-mounted Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens, the 1.4X III TC, and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 2000. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/500 sec. at f/9.

Critique 29/32. Another winner. Perfectly framed with great detail in the fur. Note that Clemens went to f/9 as he was a lot closer than he was in the two images above. By exposing to the right at ISO 2000 noise was minimized beautifully.

Part II with Image Critiques

To follow along on the next 13 image critiques first open a new window here. This will bring you to Clemens Coastal Brown Bear gallery. Clicking twice on the right-facing triangle will bring you to image 17/32. Return to this window to read the critique and then repeat the process for the next 12 images.

Critique 17/32. Sharp with a perfect exposure as expected. Nicely framed and I like the low perspective. Getting even lower if possible would have placed the bear’s head (and the clam) against a background of blue, o-o-f creek and the image would have been that much better.

Critique 18/32. Technically perfect as expected. Love your angle into the cub, the perspective you chose, and that momma is looking directly at the nursing cub.

Critique 19/32. You were in the right place at the right time! Timing exquisite as are the fish and the splashing water. Love the placement of the bear in the frame (with the animal looking just to your right) and even the careful framing to “give the rock (in the lower left corner) a border.”

Critique 20/32. Though the sharpness, EXP (you handled the somewhat harsh sidelight well), and framing are perfect and the pose rather powerful I am so jaded that this one does not get me terribly excited.

Critique 22/32. You handled a difficult exposure well. Based on the far shoreline, it looks as if it might need a bit of CW rotation. You might opt to create a version with a pure black silhouette. You must have been out of position when this guy was running after the salmon.

Critique 23/32. A wonderfully conceived and executed zoom blur with a nice sharp face on the bear. Love the strips of color and the degree of blurring. I’d evict the one dark stone just to our right of the bear’s snout as it is distracting.

Critique 25/32. A superbly executed portrait with a wonderful background. Simple but exquisite. Love, love, love the BKGR and your choice of perspective. Beautifully seen and executed. The direct stare and the open mouth are the icing on a great cake!

Critique 26/32. These shaking off the water images are very difficult to pull off. The face is pretty darned sharp and I love the drops. Framing is a bit tight on our left and the right eye looks weird; the eyes are almost always problematic in these….

Critique 27/32. This one has a very forlorn look about it. The image is nicely designed with the subject placed perfectly. From here it looks as if the dark fur could be opened up a bit.

Critique 28/32. The degree of blurring here is very nice and the head looks pretty good. When creating pleasing blurs the head is often a huge problem as they are often too blurred…. Zooming wider or panning slower to get the bear farther forward in the frame would have been better as it would have let us see more of the spray.

Critique 30/32. Nicely done. I like yours a bit better than mine because you included at least a bit of each rear paw. I had no idea that you were behind me and slightly to my left on this one! I thought that I was alone.

Critique 31/32. Great to go wide here. I love the action and the bears in the BKGR. Raising the lens a bit would have resulted in better framing. As presented I would crop 3/4 of the empty space on the bottom of the frame.

Critique 32/32. Sharp with yet another perfect exposure. Wonderful timing with the cub’s tongue out. Nice as it is it would have been better had you pointed the lens to our left so as to include all of momma’s near fore-leg with a small border.

You can learn more about Clemens here or check out his home-page slide program here. While doing so be sure to visit some of his other galleries. If you missed the first 16 image critiques you can find them here.

Earn Free Contest Entries and Support both the Bulletins and the Blog by making all your B & H purchases here.

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Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of the gear Clemens used to create the images in today’s blog post. Thanks a stack to all who have used the Shopper’s Guide links to purchase their gear as a thank you for all the free information that we bring you on the Blog and in the Bulletins. Before you purchase anything be sure to check out the advice in our Shopper’s Guide.

Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens. Right now this is my all time favorite super-telephoto lens.
Canon 1.4X III Teleconverter. The new 1.4X TC is designed to work best with the newer Series II super-telephoto lenses but it works just fine with the current lenses.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body. Like me, Clemens travels with two Mark IV bodies that serve as his workhorse digital camera bodies.

And from the BAA On-line Store:

LensCoats. I have a LensCoat on each of my big lenses to protect them from nicks and thus increase their re-sale value and so does Clemens.
LegCoat Tripod Leg Covers. I have four tripods active and each has a set of LegCoats on it to help prevent further damage to my tender shoulders :) And so does Clemens.
Gitzo GT3541XLS Carbon Fiber 6X Tripod At 6 foot, six inches Clemens uses the tripod that Todd Gustafson has popularized for the tall folks.
Mongoose M3.6 Tripod Head. Right now this is the best tripod head around for use with lenses that weigh less than 9 pounds. For heavier lenses, check out the Wimberley V2 head. (Note: Denise prefers the Wimberley head to the Mongoose.
CR-80 Replacement Foot for Canon 800. When using the 800 on a Mongoose as I do, replacing the lens foot with this accessory lets the lens sit like a dog whether pointed up or down and prevents wind-blown spinning of your lens on breezy days by centering the lens directly over the tripod.
Double Bubble Level. You will find one in my camera’s hot shoe whenever I am not using flash.
Be sure to check out our camera body User’s Guides here.
The Lens Align Mark II. I use the Lens Align Mark II pretty much religiously to micro-adjust all of my gear an average of once a month and always before a major trip. And yes, so does Clemens. In fact, he drove up here a few months ago and we worked together micro-adjusting everything in sight. Having a partner for this makes it easy to center the red circle in the target; one of us stayed a the laptop while the other adjusted the LensAlign Mark II sitting atop the Giotto’s tiny ballhead. Enjoy our free comprehensive tutorial here.
BIRDS AS ART Camera Body User’s Guides. Why spend $2-5 grand on a camera and not learn to use it properly and efficiently?

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