Gary Schafer  

Meer Cat by Gary Schafer

June 2020 - Meer Cat

About the Image(s)

This is a photo of a Meer Cat. I ran across 12 of them while at the zoo one day and stayed at the scene hoping to get a quality image. My first goal was to get an interesting composition. I wanted the photo to display the body well enough to see what the entire Meer Cat looked like. A plane came overhead which caught the Cat's attention and provided me with an acceptable composition. My second goal was to gain practice using manual mode and attempt to get a well exposed image at a speed that produced a crisp, sharp image. I did not write down the settings, sorry about that. I used a 5D Mark IV with a 100-400mm IS L Model II lens with a 1.4 teleconverter attached. I believe I used an F stop of 8, ISO of 100. I do not remember the speed. Thank you for viewing the image.

This round’s discussion is now closed!
12 comments posted

Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
(Groups 36 & 67)
For the record your camera settings were ISO 100, aperture 6.3 and shutter speed was 1/200. If you process in Lightroom the settings are revealed when you are in the develop mode.

The settings reveal that you had adequate probably open shade light on the meercat and a background recessed at some distance that was cast in fairly dark shadows. There are nearly ideal conditions for this type of photograph.

Thee are several excellent features to be found in this image. The placement of the meercat on the left side fixation points is ideal and having the animal looking into the image works as well. The diagonal angle of the animal's back imparts a feeling of action and power to the image. The angle of the head and the apparent focused attention of the animal provide a feeling of impending action which adds to the concept of a nature story. The use of analogous (harmonious) given a image a comfortable feel that works well for nature subjects. In fact, colorwise, you could not have picked anything better. This type of open shade soft light brings out the textures of the animal's coat in an ideal fashion. The image is adequately sharp although I would use an adjustment brush to add a touch of sharpness to the face. While you have lots of fine hairs that are crisp, I feel the face itself is a bit soft. This may be due to the wide open setting of the lens and also to the possibility that the tc1.4 may degrade the image slightly. The sharpness issue is not major and is within the realm of adequate. The back ground is superb in that it is beautifully neutral and only contains one flaw. The eye of the viewer is drawn to subconsciously always drawn to the brightest part of the image. This that off-white blotch of color just above the meercat's head becomes a distraction. If that was not there the image would be perfect.

Few photographers actually pay enough attention to background and these sadly results in distractions that creep into images. For example, if you slightly to the right, and lower the camera position the head of the meercat will end up completely blocking that white area. This is not to say that this is a poor image. It is a very good image, but attention to details will pay dividends.

Just a thought. Your camera will tolerate much high ISO settings than you used. While I understand that low ISO setting ensure better image quality your ISO is only 100. Shooting wildlife at low shutter speeds, while it worked this time, is never a good idea. A slight increase in ISO even to 320, would allow for a faster shutter in the range of 1/400. Just something to think about

Manual shooting was a great choice for this image.
  Posted: 06/04/2020 15:34:43
Gary Schafer   Gary Schafer
Thank you. That is the first real review I have had on PSA. I appreciate that.   Posted: 06/04/2020 19:03:11
Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
(Groups 36 & 67)
I try to be through on a review. You folks put a lot into your photo, you deserve to have a review that is helpful and not just critical. Anything in my reviews is open to discussion--that is the way we learn. My thought are just that, my thoughts. I can be wrong.   Posted: 06/04/2020 20:01:34
Gary Schafer   Gary Schafer

I think I read that you are from Florida. I live there too. I am from a suburb of Melbourne. Where are you located?

I have a comment about the sharpness. If you enlarge you will see how much in focus the face, for that matter, the whole Meer Cat is. I kept shooting and testing the F and the SS and adjusting. I do that when I shoot manual mode as the light changes from location to location, sometimes rapidly. I realize I should have set the SS higher if there was any kind of motion but the Meer Cat was posing and thus stationary. I had the SS and the F set for that kind of situation. But I do appreciate the comments. Because I was a fair distance away from the Meer Cat I felt that F 6.3 would give sufficient sharpness and might yield better color. Am I correct in those assumptions? i.e. the farther the distance the more open you can set the aperture and the more wide open the aperture the better the color?   Posted: 06/06/2020 10:04:34

Tage Christiansen   Tage Christiansen
I thought the picture is nice, nice blurry background and sharp Meer-Cat, I unfortunately do not have suggestions for improvement, I have tried to crop the photo a bit, but have doubts about what is best.
Tage   Posted: 06/06/2020 05:16:13
Comment Image
Gary Schafer   Gary Schafer
Hi Tage - Welcome to the group! Thanks for the reply.   Posted: 06/06/2020 10:08:26

Glenn Rudd   Glenn Rudd
This is an excellent animal capture with sharp detail in the fur and eye, including a small "catch-light." The natural diagonal line adds interest. The background near the head is distracting. You might try the Targeted Adjustment Brush in Lightroom to reduce the tonal values and make it less obvious.   Posted: 06/06/2020 08:46:30
Gary Schafer   Gary Schafer
Hi Glen - thank you for the comments. It's funny but a person gets attached to their own photo and because of that I miss things like the background by the head. I don't use Lightroom...I use photoshop/camera raw instead. I could have gotten rid of it had I noticed. I will now look for distractions more carefully. Thanks.   Posted: 06/06/2020 10:06:01

Bristow Joseph   Bristow Joseph
Hi Gary,

Its a well composed and balanced image with great natural colors.I did not find flaws in this image except the distraction in the background as everybody mentioned.Well done   Posted: 06/07/2020 16:14:49

Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
(Groups 36 & 67)
Hi Gary

Yes, I am from Florida---Fort Lauderdale I have been up to your area for several photo shoot, so maybe when all this virus stuff calms down we could meet somewhere for a photo shoot. I did post a photo from St. Augustine Beach in Group #36 that you might find interesting. I'm sure you have been to the Alligator Farm. Have you shot Florida Polytechnical University on I-4? The place is amazing at night (day time also) Shooting a zoom lens wide open (yours was when you factor in the tc1.4) may potentially be an issue. All tc degrade an image somewhat. I regularly put a tc1.4 on my 400mm lens but never when the light starts to fail.

Any way you look at it, this is a great image.

After reading you comment I took your image and really enlarged it in Lightroom and it looks sharper there than here. It may just have been a monitor issue. Sorry. Aperture does impact DOF and may have some impact on contrast but as long as the image is well exposed there should not be any problem with color. I've shot my long 400mm f 4 lens wide open and never had any issues with colors. Exposure seems to matter more than anything else. I do generally still make minor adjustments in saturation and or vibrance.

  Posted: 06/07/2020 18:01:19
Gary Schafer   Gary Schafer
Thanks. That is helpful.   Posted: 06/08/2020 10:00:04

Dave Ficke   Dave Ficke
Welcome aboard.

The image is sharp and good job but I agree that the face is a bit soft. Your focus point should be the eyes and it looks like your focus point was a bit lower along the shoulder. Background above the head is distracting and my eye wants to keep going there. Good detail in the wood where he is standing and in the feet. I would also recommend a higher ISO so your shooting around 1/500. Colors and very nice   Posted: 06/14/2020 17:34:17