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Old Feb 20, 2005, 10:43 AM   #1
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I use a Nikon D70. Mostly where my problem crops up is shooting wildlife, specifically flying birds, but I'm having some problems with more closeup shots of birds as well.

Here's an example. It's overcast today and a hawk flew right over my house with me standing there camera in hand. I popped off decent captures, except all I'm getting is the sillouette of the bird; no detail. I think maybe I had spot metering on and that messed it up.

Questions: When shooting up at a flying bird (or a bird standing on a try limb surrounded by sky), what approach to metering should I try? What adjustments can I make?

For more mixed or even no skybackground situations (some sky, some foilage or all foilage), does the metering approach change?

I'd really appreciate any advice someone could give. I don't want to miss another great shot opportunity like I just did. Thanks, in advance.
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Old Feb 20, 2005, 6:05 PM   #2
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Depends. But I'd meter the bird with spot then in manual mode set the exposure. It's up to you if you want the bird medium toned or brighter or darker according to your liking.

I've barely ever photograph birds(I don't havethelense for it)however this is how I would start out. I'm sure peeps have some better advice but that's my 2 cents.
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Old Feb 21, 2005, 9:13 AM   #3
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Thanks for the reply, Cali.

Yeah, I was trying to meter those shots with spot, figuring I might blow the highlights but at least I'd get the subject. I'm still not sure what the problem is, but it's a recurring issue on certain shots and I need to figure out how to fix it.

Thanks again.
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Old Feb 22, 2005, 6:51 AM   #4
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I'm not sure what area is metered in spot metering on the D70 but with the canon its the large circle. With white, grey or overcast background,unless the subject is filling most of that area, the spot metering is still going to take some of the background into account and bird will be underexposed. You could try exposure bracketing and push all the bracketing to the - side. The first shot will probably be the same as what you have been getting but then the bird should be better exposed on the next two. What I do sometimes is find a static dark subject that would represent a similar scenario and then manually adjust until tha is exposed correctly then bracket exposure - and +. I'm sure others can give some advice. Other than that just hope for the right lighting.


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Old Feb 22, 2005, 8:06 AM   #5
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Thanks Widowmaker, and very nice photo.

According to the manual, the D70 spot metering uses a 2.33mm circle in the middle of the frame (approximately 1% of the frame).

I think the bottom line is that exposure compensation is the only alternative, and also maybe bracketing like you suggested. I usually shoot in shutter-priority mode and if the scene is improperly metered there's not much I can do other than those alternatives.

Besides, what's the use of having features like that if you aren't going to get some use out of them! :-)

Thanks again for the reply.
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Old Feb 24, 2005, 1:20 PM   #6
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I have the d70. The problem you are facing is the bain of photography, and photography is all about the light- trying to get a moving backlit subject properly exposed is difficult. This is why many people use very long glass to try to get subject filling the center of the frame for better metering.

Center weighted is good and spot is better for a moving bird but with anything you got to get it dead on the mark- focus point should be on the bird not on the edge of sillouette. There has to be enough light on the bird or forget it.

With a bit of practice you will find that doing this successfully gets easier, it gets easier to know beforehand if the shot is even worth trying. The hardest thing is exposing the bird sort of OK, and exposing the background sort of OK- this way you have something to work with in Photoshop. Regardless, if the subject is large enough in the image- it can be broughtout of darkness pretty easily in PS, as well as noise removal and still have a very nice image when reduced from 100%.

Many awesome bird shots with blue sky background are in fact artificially constructed... however some of these shots aresimply wellexecuted in very favorable lighting (but still difficult).

Since you are using the d70, it tends to slightly under expose to preserve highlights. Pretty much, your picture will come out during post proccessing but as said already you may want toexposure bracket.Pesonally, I find the bird and lock focus then refocus more centered as I followit along shooting several times... mostlyI try to figure out first- how to take it, or when or if to take it. This requires spending some time looking over the scene, not something that works too well though-if your in a hurry.
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Old Feb 27, 2005, 5:10 PM   #7
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Wannabe You have some great advice and I am by no means really adept at this. Here are some things I have been doing and my photos ae getting better.
1. Learn as musch as possible about eh metering syhstem of your camera and how it reacts to light.
2. Practsce shooting into the light or sky. This is what is causing your problem [you knew that]
3. I have found that I should open up a min. of 2/3 stop when shooting up and am beginning to suspect I could go to twice that and get even better shots. I am using 1 to 1 1/3 now in many situations.
4. Try to be lucky. Luck seems to be part of getting that really great shot.
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Old Mar 8, 2005, 9:30 AM   #8
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I pre-set exposure manually on a tree trunk, rock or other neutral object in the same light I expect to see the subject in and re-adjust every 15-20 minutes or so. This gets me pretty close, shooting raw also allows some adjustment of the exposure later.

Another technique I used with film but haven't tried with digital is to put a clean, white styrofoam cup over the lens, point toward the light source and set exposure for incident light.

Good luck.
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