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Old Feb 14, 2005, 7:52 PM   #1
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Eric...where were you when I needed you???? I drove past this eagle and went back to see if he would still be there. He was about 60 - 100 yards away, just sitting there on the ground staring into space. I snapped a bunch of shots, got out, and he still sat there. I swear he was stoned or something. Maybe the meat he ate was fermenting. :?

A car went by and he took off and flew a short distance and landed in the field. I think my settings were way off...I just can't seem to get his eye in focus on the fly.

ISO 400 (explains the graininess), Shutter speed 1/1600 (should have gone with 1/1000, right?), F 5.6 (overcast), no tripod

This seems to be bald eagle central, so I'm hoping for some help. I missed a great opportunity again in the name of learning I guess. Bummer.

Please enlighten me... :-)
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Old Feb 14, 2005, 7:54 PM   #2
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Oh, and here is what I did in PS Elements:

slight levels and contrast

unsharp (this was tough...I just started using this when someone said that sharpen was actually the worst tool of the choices there)

despeckle


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Old Feb 14, 2005, 9:02 PM   #3
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#2 blows me away, beautiful shot. Looks to me like the cam is working pretty good. Its really tough to get moving shots in focus. #2 almost looks like the tail and wings are in focus and head a little out, which would be right for this kind of shot. A real keeper.
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Old Feb 14, 2005, 11:08 PM   #4
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Well, my first statement was "you added a head in PS Elements? Wow, great job!" and then I saw those two are different photos.

Nicely done, flight shots are very hard and very rewarding. They are almost always unique... and that makes them yours (and special!)

I think you did a great job with #2. I really don't see any sharpening halo, and you brought out the details in the wings very nicely. The eye's location is visible, which is about all you can ask for in an eagle this far away. The contrast is good, the dark part is not too dark and the tail has detail. The head is a bit blown out, but shooting darks and lights is really hard... you did it well. It isn't "perfect" but perfect is very, very hard to achieve (i.e. national geographic material.) I know I haven't done it and I take this fairly seriously.

Your friend was right, USM is much better than "sharpen". It has more settings to tweak, so you can alter the sharpening to fit the picture. More flexibility is good.

It is a bit surprising that the car would bother it, but you didn't. Normally cars are not a threat so they get ignored. But people obviously staring at them are. Depending on how cold it has been recently, food might be scarce. A free meal is a prize to a wild animal. It costs energy to hunt so you gotta make it count or you die. Ok, I guess I'm not too surprised you didn't scare it off (often a raptor will stay on food and let you get really close) but the car did? Weird.

I really preach over 1/1000 for flight shots. The higher the better - if you can use a good ISO and good fstop. f5.6 isn't bad, maybe even a touch higher would have been better (but only because of the larger DOF. The extra sharpness isn't worth it… shutter speed will have a greater impact on sharpness than aperture for flight shots.) But I'd prefer f5.6 & 1/1600 vs. 1/800 & f8. If you were on a tripod and shooting with a really good head... maybe. But I don't think you were.

Getting the eye in focus is the dream of any bird photographer. It is the goal of any shot, and with a moving subject it is very hard. I'll let you in on a secret... this shot was harder than mine in one way. My eagle was flying parallel to me, so the DOF moved mostly (But not completely) in one plane (left/right.) In your shot the eagle was flying both away and to the left. That makes it harder for the AF to track them in motion. AF systems seem better at tracking left/right, the worst is the subject moving right at you (most change in least amount of time.)

I think you did a good job.

If you want to raise the bar and you have the time. Bald Eagles are fish eaters mostly. See if you can find a river they like that is mostly frozen, but isn't in one area. They will congregate there. Sit up-wind of them. When they soar, they will fly towards you and by you (they fly into the wind so the wind lifts them up... that burns less energy and means they don't have to hunt as often.) Then you'll get the bird facing you... and a straight on eagle shot is one of those great things in life. You can use the same logic if they frequent the same field.

I hope that helps. I think you did well here, don't be unhappy. I get my shots because I am willing to stand in one place for 45 minutes waiting for that perfect opportunity to arrive. Don't think it can be duplicated easily (as a friend said "if those shots were easy, everyone would have them.")

Eric

Ps. Now I gotta get to bed, it's late here.
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Old Feb 15, 2005, 9:19 PM   #5
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Thanksfor everything! I bow hunt, so I have no problem sitting for hours or getting cold, but I never stopped and thought about wind direction when it came to the birds. DUH! I pay so much attention with stand placement when hunting.

Anyway, this morning, I took a different route along a crick on the way to work and found this guy hanging out. Unfortunately, I had zoomed all the way in on him getting this close up and then when he took off, I couldn't find him in the lens. ARRGHH. I'll keep trying. I just can't tell what is oversharpened, so hopefully this levels treatment and unsharpening is OK. Suggestions would help at any time!!

:G
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Old Feb 15, 2005, 9:35 PM   #6
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looks pretty good to me, I would dearly love to get a shot of our wedge-tail eagles when Im out doing my country courier run, I know of only two pairs in a 100k radius, Ive seen them twice and they are beautiful. You seem to have more luck with accessibility to your wonderful eagles than I do.
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Old Feb 15, 2005, 11:18 PM   #7
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I like that shot. Fairly traditional, but nothing wrong with that. I'd say it is *almost* over sharpened, but isn't there yet. There is a slight halo on some of the thicker branches, but only the slightest touch of one on the eagle (left side.)

Hey, have you considered looking for Great Gray Owls? I bet there are some there. About 3000 came south from Canada, a huge number. I bet you could find some of those too.

I know to take into account things like the wind... but I don't often think about breaking up my silote (sp) with trees or bushes. You're always learning.

aladyforty, I'd love it if you could get good shots of those eagles too. What I've found is that location is key on Bald Eagles. You can not seem them at all, or this weekend I saw 6 immatures in the same spot. You never know.

Eric
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Old Feb 16, 2005, 12:01 AM   #8
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wedgetails seem to hang around the dry farmlands just off our coast, I found this on a website, they are quite majestic large birds.




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Old Feb 16, 2005, 12:46 AM   #9
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Very good, them thereare some nice shots!

Want to break up your silhouette in the bush? Make or buy a ghillie suit :-)

Ya those blasted Great Grays are everywhere, everyone has tones of shots of them now. Wonder how long the eruption will last this year.

Peter

Quote:
Originally Posted by eric s
Hey, have you considered looking for Great Gray Owls? I bet there are some there. About 3000 came south from Canada, a huge number. I bet you could find some of those too.

I know to take into account things like the wind... but I don't often think about breaking up my silote (sp) with trees or bushes. You're always learning.
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