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Thread: Few hints please for photographing birds/birds in flight - today at the beach

  1. #1
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    We drove home along the beach and saw a flock of little waders I havent seen before so as soon as I got home I grabbed the new kit and went back to get them - there were about 20 of these together - sweet little things - people were letting their dogs run at them :mad: so I followed them onto the beach - trying different framing shots - against pebbles / sea etc. Again the light was very poor and it was mizzling at the time as well -

    Still not 100% what these are think they may be Turnstones - so thats another one of my observer book of birds geek list.



    Took loads and it was a tough call which was the best setup - portrait wasn't bad but kept wanting to use flash - which at these distances seemed daft and is useless for wildlife who you are trying to creep up on! so used Tv with a longer exposure length of 1/250 ish I think

    Someone was feeding the gulls on the beach so I thought i'd have a go at some flight shots. - Again upped the shutter speed to 1/800 and 1/100 but TBH the light was so poor at this time of year and in the mizzle it was just awful but I think the biggest problem was holding focus - the IS is doing a lot I can tell but it is really tough when they are flying around so much - I suppose its all about practice unless anyone can tell me I am using the wrong mode ( sport seemed a lot worse than playing in Tv)

    Herring and Juvenile


    Herring in flight


    Blackheaded flying - gutted as the wings are sharp but the head is out of focus and the feet are blurred



    Going after a bit of bread


    Crow on the drive


    Blue tit on the feeders


    They are ok when they sit still

    I still loved the thrill of the chase and I can see why people get completely addicted to wildlife photography - I can also see why people may well go stark raving mad trying as well

    Am I right to keep trying with Tv? - I just have this feeling its the right thing but I may be wrong - I also feel my efforts would be a lot more fruitful if there was more light around to help the short exposures

    Oh and trying to focus on something on the beach is a nightmare for AF

    please help there is only 170 odd days to get this right ( ok I know people have devoted their lives to this but I need the fast track :D)

  2. #2
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    i hate using TV. I either use AV or manual. Can you show us the EXIF data for the shots?














  3. #3
    Moderator Dawn's Avatar
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    That's not a herring.

    This is a herring.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  4. #4
    Moderator Dawn's Avatar
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    Oh and I think it is a Turnstone as well. :D

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    Administrator keith's Avatar
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    ok on the whole focus thing, I dont think it's your shutter speed, or shake, it's your depth of field and focus when moving. It's a shame we're at opposite ends of the country, things like this need discussing over a couple of glasses of something alcoholic hic!

    Anyway, first off, focus.

    Several problems with BiF. You focus on a point, then the bird moves, of course ;), and all of a sudden you're still focusing on point A theyre at point B. Rather than bore you with a load of stuff that's better read from the manual, go look at AI SERVO mode. Basically once you focus on a subject, the camera will try and keep that subject in focus by tracking it across the sky using the focus points. You still don't have LONG to get the shot if the bird is moving horizontally through the frame and away from the focus points but still, that's the plan.

    Secondly depth of field. You know that lovely effect that makes photos look all pro? the subject is in focus but the foreground/background are blurred? Well that's exaggerated more at longer lengths and larger apertures. It means that if you focus on the wings and they're in focus, chances are that only the wings, and stricly speaking other things on that focal plane (distance along a line perpendicular to the sensor inside your camera) will be sharp. You have to consider this when choosing your aperture if you want say the whole bird/animal to be sharp. ie. you need to choose a smaller aperture (f8 instead of f4 for example). In fact, famously, when asked how the national geographic photographers get so many great shots, they tend to reply "f8 and be there". You have to be in the right place with an aperture ready to get whats going on. Not only that but most lenses don't hit their sweet spot until stopped down a bit from their wide open, so if you have an f5.6 lens, f8-f11 may well be where it produces its best images.

    Of course there are a lot of things that follow from these tips ;-) such as, a smaller aperture will let less light in and so you have to compensate with a longer shutter time which will produce more blurred shots and isnt suitable for BiF anyway, or up the iso which may produce more noise.

    This is the fun and frustration of photography ;-)
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    Cheers mate, thanks for the long reply - I hope you are not going to get bored of my varied botched efforts over the coming few months :D - just remember to speak Slooowly for the hard of thinking - you see in my ignorance I just thought 'something that moves fast needs a fast shutter speed' See I am used to taking pics of things that move very very very slowly

    I can, I'm afraid already feeling the perfectionist in me starting to take over - Lisa is going to have to physically restrain me from emptying the SD card every night in frustration when we finally go

    So much to learn

  7. #7
    Moderator Dawn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skywatcher, post: 190640
    So much to learn
    like the difference between a bird and a fish.

  8. #8
    Administrator keith's Avatar
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    Hey no botched efforts anywhere I can see, already better than mine but let's not go there

    The thing with photography is everything is related. Anything you change has to be compensated for by changing something else. So it's all about knowing what's most important for that exact shot, setting that as close as possible then compensating with everything else.

    As you say, fast moving subject needs a short shutter speed so that's probably the most important factor. So yep, set that to a workable value, then work out a combination of aperture/iso to maintain that speed whilst getting enough light in for the exposure. Then think about focus mode ;)

    Quote Originally Posted by Skywatcher, post: 190640
    Cheers mate, thanks for the long reply - I hope you are not going to get bored of my varied botched efforts over the coming few months :D - just remember to speak Slooowly for the hard of thinking - you see in my ignorance I just thought 'something that moves fast needs a fast shutter speed' See I am used to taking pics of things that move very very very slowly

    I can, I'm afraid already feeling the perfectionist in me starting to take over - Lisa is going to have to physically restrain me from emptying the SD card every night in frustration when we finally go

    So much to learn
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  9. #9
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    wibble

    One thing I have learned early is that Auto is not brilliant in any circumstances

    I think a combination of talking to you Brit and others on here will help me immensely ( plus tips on which species from Dawn ;) ) but I guess nothing really beats trial and error or pure dumb luck.

    The ultimate test is whether the shot you get is the one YOU want, that is the problem really its all so very subjective once you get past the focussing which is clearly paramount. The problem is in my head I want national geographic pictures, and I wont be happy until I get something close and then I'll only be happy with it for 5 minutes because I'll say something like ' yeah its ok but the Lions got its eyes half closed or, it would have been better if the sun was a shade lower' I will be my own worst enemy in this - you wait and see :D - so I wont use anything other than f8 for now

    I am now aching for some decent light - pretty sure the sun has only come out a handful of times since October - I suppose what I said in my initial blurb was right - that very low light levels really don't help

    Still - I can no longer blame my equipment, its all down to the greasy nosed novice behind the lens now :)

  10. #10
    Administrator keith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skywatcher, post: 190649
    The ultimate test is whether the shot you get is the one YOU want, that is the problem really its all so very subjective once you get past the focussing which is clearly paramount.
    This is ABSOLUTELY true and I could do an hours rant on photo competitions etc which I don't/won't enter for that reason. I keep seeing GREAT photos getting marked down because some short sighted judge doesn't think it fits into what he/she thinks is a good shot. Definitely shoot to please your own vision of what's good and that's that

    I am now aching for some decent light - pretty sure the sun has only come out a handful of times since October - I suppose what I said in my initial blurb was right - that very low light levels really don't help
    For almost consistent Magic Light, try the hour around sunrise and sunset. Almost anything will look great ;-)
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