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Author Topic: Trying to Up my Birding Game......  (Read 782 times)
MarcG19
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« on: September 16, 2012, 06:53:13 AM »
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Had an opportunity to do some bird shooting today, and decided to give it a try.  





Overcast, equipment not ideal (Nikon D90, 70-300VR, ISO 3200) but it's what I had.  These are IMO the two best from this session.  

Settings:
- 1/1000, ISO-auto to ISO 3200 (had back luck previously with ISO auto set to 1600 -underexposed and lots of noise -  so I tried to up the ISO this time).  
- 170mm [ETA: I re-looked at the EXIF, it was 300mm]
- f/5.6
- Cropped
- minimally processed in CaptureNX and Photoshop (no attempt to play with exposure, IMO exposure was basically dead-on), Lightly Nik Dfined.  
- "save for web and devices" from 2xxx at the longest to 800px.  

Criticism - both in terms of technique, crop, and general artistic/subject interest -most welcome.  


And the old equipment question comes up too Cheesy - I probably could have gotten two stops worth of detail/less noise if I used an 80-200 f/2.8.   And probably as much, perhaps a it more if I used a full frame camera and the 70-300VR rather than a D90?

[ETA: looked at it on the iPad, it looks like the focus point on the top one is a bit forward of the head, on the same plane of focus as the forward cow's top left flank.   Hmmm, perhaps I need to practice my AF-C focus a bit....

Thank you also for helping with the links, Mr. Chairman.  Cheesy]
« Last Edit: September 16, 2012, 10:15:31 AM by MarcG19 » Logged
Chairman Bill
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« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2012, 07:36:47 AM »
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OK, what you need to do is on Flickr, go to 'Actions', click, select 'View all sizes'. Then when you've decided which size image you want to post, right click (Option-click if on a one-button old Apple mouse), copy the address, then post that, remembering to add the [img] tags etc.

If you look at the web address for this image, it is different from the one you posted

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8180/7991558526_818ed1b4a8_b.jpg
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RSL
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« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2012, 11:35:41 AM »
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Marc, Welcome. Forget about the equipment stuff. Who cares? A picture either works or it doesn't work. Both are interesting photographs. The buffalo makes the picture. Without him the snowy egret would be just another snowy egret.

I can't critique your "crops" because I don't know what the original camera "crops" look like. Usually the original "crop" is the best "crop."
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MarcG19
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« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2012, 11:00:50 AM »
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Marc, Welcome. Forget about the equipment stuff. Who cares? A picture either works or it doesn't work. Both are interesting photographs. The buffalo makes the picture. Without him the snowy egret would be just another snowy egret.

I can't critique your "crops" because I don't know what the original camera "crops" look like. Usually the original "crop" is the best "crop."


Thanks, RSL.  Agreed, the buffalos make the picture - I've heard that the key for animal photography is catching them doing something interesting and/or (of course) having spectacular light/composition/etc ("spectacular light" was out of the question here.  Cheesy)

Here's the original uncropped files, reduced to 800x531px in length.




Agreed in principle with the equipment part.  To really justify a full frame+2.8 telephoto equipment outlay, my birding photography and the amount of effort I put into ought to be fairly high.  That being said, in this case I definitely felt I could have used such, especially in the half hour before sunset.  Smiley

Marc 
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Bruce Cox
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« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2012, 11:24:18 AM »
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I prefer the framing of your original files.

Bruce
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fike
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« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2012, 01:34:11 PM »
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You have interesting subject matter (birds on buffalo?), but the conditions are conspiring against you.  If I am shooting birds and I have to turn the ISO up past 1250 (with my 7D, your mileage may vary), I go generally put the camera down and enjoy the show.  

Now lots of people are going to say that I am being oversensitive (pun intended), but for me the critical piece of information in wildlife (and birds in particular) is to faithfully capture the beautiful textures of feathers and fur and the mottled and colorful beauty of the iris of the eyes.  This is generally impossible much above 1600 ISO (possibly a few of the newest cameras excepted).  By ISO 3200, you are losing most of the fine-feather details and the essence of the bird is compromised.  Noise reduction is a smudgy mess with feathers and fur.

Yes, yes, there are some great low-light artistic wildlife silhouettes that have been captured.  Yes, yes, there are some great images that are grainy and moody with high-ISO noise.  Yes, yes, there are beautiful blurs of birds in flight and flocks of birds in flight, BUT the general idea in wildlife photography is to render the critter in lifelike focus.  Those other images are great fun and can be very successful, but if you want to "up my birding game..." then you need to be opportunistic about good lighting and excellent focus.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2012, 01:35:43 PM by fike » Logged

Fike, Trailpixie, or Marc Shaffer
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I carry an M43 ILC, a couple of good lenses, and a tripod.
MarcG19
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« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2012, 07:33:19 AM »
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Thanks, Gentlemen.  First, yes, looking at them again, I do like the original files best - they give a better context of what's going on around the birds.  Still, I think I will crop a little, mainly for framing/excluding random extraneous elements.   

fike,

First, yes, Cattle_Egrets.  These are in Asia, but apparently they do this in the continental US as well.  [side note: check out the breeding colors on the wikipedia link, as well as the habitat expansion story!]

Second, agreed about conditions conspiring against me, as well as the importance of plumage details.   That being said, in this situation ISO is necessary since the birds/cows were moving fairly constantly and IMO a 1/1000 shutter speed was best, especially since I wanted to catch them in flight. 

In other situations (e.g. the pond where I was shooting just a few hours ago) lower shutter speeds are possible, though here I ran into problems too (ISO 640, mildly cloudy day out of direct sunlight, head of white egret is spot on, torso feathers are overexposed, but noise detail in its butt area!!!!!)

I'm also told that a full frame camera can retain significant detail even at ISO 6400, but I don't have such a camera, nor do I believe that getting such a camera is my most important wildlife photography priority at the moment.   That being said, given the prices of some 70-200 f/2.8 lenses out there, I may very well try to get one of those......
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fike
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« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2012, 01:30:34 PM »
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Thanks, Gentlemen.  First, yes, looking at them again, I do like the original files best - they give a better context of what's going on around the birds.  Still, I think I will crop a little, mainly for framing/excluding random extraneous elements.   

fike,
Second, agreed about conditions conspiring against me, as well as the importance of plumage details.   That being said, in this situation ISO is necessary since the birds/cows were moving fairly constantly and IMO a 1/1000 shutter speed was best, especially since I wanted to catch them in flight. 

I'm also told that a full frame camera can retain significant detail even at ISO 6400, but I don't have such a camera, nor do I believe that getting such a camera is my most important wildlife photography priority at the moment.   That being said, given the prices of some 70-200 f/2.8 lenses out there, I may very well try to get one of those......

I agree on shutter speed.  There isn't much point in shooting moving birds at less than 1/1,000th second--1/1,500th is even better.  As for focal lengths and getting into bird and wildlife photography, 300mm is really the bare minimum and most people really don't consider a lens effective at shooting wildlife until you hit at least 400mm. If you continue to advance in this effort, your 70-200 will be followed shortly by a 400.
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Fike, Trailpixie, or Marc Shaffer
marcshaffer.net
TrailPixie.net

I carry an M43 ILC, a couple of good lenses, and a tripod.
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