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Author Topic: Red-wing blackbird in wetland reeds  (Read 2126 times)
dalethorn
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« on: May 17, 2009, 11:02:19 PM »
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Taken today with the Pana G1 - not the best quality, since I couldn't get too close.
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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2009, 12:19:25 PM »
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Quote from: dalethorn
Taken today with the Pana G1 - not the best quality, since I couldn't get too close.

Really tough birds to shoot; that coal-black plumage makes it almost impossible to get good detail unless you either over-expose or add a bit of flash to open the shadows. Your shots are really pretty good; my eyes want just a bit more shadow detail in the feathers.

I once spent a couple of hours shooting male red-winged black birds singing on cat-tails in spring. I probably took a couple hundred frames, out of which exactly two were worth printing—everything in focus, mouth open in song, good detail in the feathers without blown out background. The rest were all instantly delete-able.
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dalethorn
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« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2009, 01:53:01 PM »
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Quote from: Geoff Wittig
Really tough birds to shoot; that coal-black plumage makes it almost impossible to get good detail unless you either over-expose or add a bit of flash to open the shadows. Your shots are really pretty good; my eyes want just a bit more shadow detail in the feathers.
I once spent a couple of hours shooting male red-winged black birds singing on cat-tails in spring. I probably took a couple hundred frames, out of which exactly two were worth printing—everything in focus, mouth open in song, good detail in the feathers without blown out background. The rest were all instantly delete-able.

Here's another - not ideal due to the branches right next to the bird.  If I had a good sharpening program I might be able to improve this slightly.
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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2009, 09:25:08 AM »
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Quote from: dalethorn
Here's another - not ideal due to the branches right next to the bird.  If I had a good sharpening program I might be able to improve this slightly.

There ya go;
there's the whole frustrating world of wildlife photography in a nutshell. This photo has that all-important catchlight in the bird's eye, hence it looks engaging and 'alive' in a way the other two don't. However, the branches and that hard horizontal line in the defocused background are distractions.

It's so very difficult to get the whole package—perfect focus, perfect exposure, engaging composition, interesting behavior and a photogenic specimen—all in the same frame.

My wife slapped me awake about 7:30 this Sunday morning and prodded me to get dressed as fast as I could because she found a pileated woodpecker excavating one of our cherry trees while walking the dog. I managed to get my long lens mounted and slowly closed in on the apparently oblivious bird as thumb-sized chips of wood flew in all directions. I probably shot close to 50 frames in just a couple of minutes before the bird got anxious and I backed off. Out of all those frames, there are only two or three worth printing, with the bird's eye sharp and the composition pleasing. Those few are great shots, though. Unfortunately they're on the home computer, and I'm at work.  
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dalethorn
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« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2009, 10:34:18 AM »
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This one's on a feeder - not nearly as good as a tree, for a wild bird.  But the feather detail (in spite of noise) tells me what I need to do is get closer with the long zoom for the tree shots, and try to get away from direct sun on the bird.  Those two things in combination aren't easy, since there's a much higher incidence of blur with bird movement, low light, and long zoom.  So Geoff I can really appreciate that you managed to get any good ones at all, since I suppose most of those National Geographic type shots are from tripods, and the wait times are pretty long.
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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2009, 07:57:15 PM »
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Quote from: dalethorn
This one's on a feeder - not nearly as good as a tree, for a wild bird.  But the feather detail (in spite of noise) tells me what I need to do is get closer with the long zoom for the tree shots, and try to get away from direct sun on the bird.  Those two things in combination aren't easy, since there's a much higher incidence of blur with bird movement, low light, and long zoom.  So Geoff I can really appreciate that you managed to get any good ones at all, since I suppose most of those National Geographic type shots are from tripods, and the wait times are pretty long.

Definitely on a tripod; I've tried shooting the occasional bird hand-held with a long lens, and results just aren't worth the trouble.
Here are two of my woodpecker shots; these were taken with a 500 f:4 and 1.4x teleconverter on an Eos-50D, for an effective focal length of 1120 mm. That may seem a bit over the top, but it permitted me to get enough magnifcation for a worthwhile image, while staying outside the bird's 'circle of fear'. It was about 40° F and absurdly windy, something like 40 mph gusts, so many of the shots were less than sharp simply due to wind vibration. I lucked out on the light; the sun was just breaking through some haze behind me, so shutter speeds were acceptable at ISO 400 and contrast was reasonable.

We live in ideal bird habitat, with about 15 acres of abandoned apple/cherry orchards and several pastures. The only problem is that my real job is about 90 hours a week, so sometimes I lack the energy to get out there. Kudos to my wife for pitchforking me out of bed to see this bird.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2009, 08:01:40 PM by Geoff Wittig » Logged
dalethorn
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« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2009, 09:19:19 PM »
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It's good that you got the two head positions - that really adds to the sense of being there.
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