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Old Oct 31, 2010, 9:47 PM   #1
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Default cheated to get some bird shots

was a lovely day, especially for the end of october.

I got a few mediocre robin shots before some seeds were thrown out to attract more. Boy did it work, got quite a variety of perching species

I also found that the robins seemed to be unsociable as they disappeared as soon as the flocks of other birds came in.

Even with the seed and tons of birds coming and going I didnt manage any decent BIF today. I guess maybe the AFA would help with my manual focusing tamron 300 sp 2.8

heres what I managed to get, not necessarily the best but the ones that caught my eye the most, as quite a few were just ordinary shots of birds sitting on the feeder, I tried to not include those as the backgrounds posed as a bit distracting.

Anyways, here they are



incoming! Hide the loot!





well darn, i need to re-upload these because the size was too big on a lot of them and i forgot to resize.. heres a few for now, give me a minute or two to get the rest up
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Old Oct 31, 2010, 10:03 PM   #2
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like I said, the BIF's werent that successful unfortunately






uh oh, here comes trouble



but the cat didnt seem to stop anyone from the feast








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Old Oct 31, 2010, 10:05 PM   #3
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is there room for one more?





My dog Sidney stopped the party!



hope you enjoyed these, I enjoyed taking them

Happy Halloween
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Old Nov 1, 2010, 2:08 AM   #4
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Nice shots. I assume you feed birds regularly so these guys and gals are used to being fed. It's a great way to get shots. I've gotten quite a few good shots of Chickadees because one of the spots i like to shoot has a population that will eat out of your hand.
Thanks for sharing.

John
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Old Nov 1, 2010, 3:22 PM   #5
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You got some nice ones there. It's funny how the cat and dog don't scare off the birdies. We've got a chipmunk in our yard that is not afraid of our black lab mix.

Patty
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Old Nov 1, 2010, 5:32 PM   #6
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Hi NMR,

Putting out food is a pretty standard practice for birders, as is shooting in the vicinity of feeders. I do both all the time. The thing to do is set it up near some bushes or low young trees where they can stage while they wait for others to leave. Just sit and watch what they do, and you'll notice that some spots will be favored over others. Set up your gear so you can easily shoot these favored staging branches as they give the shot a "natural" look, prefocus your lens, then put out the food and just stand or sit quietly and wait for them to come.

One great trick is using your car as a hide. If you have a driveway that's bordered by young trees or not too dense bushes, and can attract birds to land in them, shoot them from the car -- they're so used to seeing cars that they pay no attention, even if your moving around inside.

It helps to take some time to just observe them, then use what you learn to get closer. Patience also helps as it will take a while for them to realize that you pose no danger, and the lure of the food will take precedence.

I shoot a lot of herons and egrets. I was surprised to discover that we have a lot of Great Blue, Green, and Black Crowned Night Herons as well as Great Egrets around Chicago. With these, you just have to get lucky, but the ones around here like to fish ponds with shallow sloping sides as opposed to abrupt drop offs. I used to do a lot of catch and release fishing, and have a pretty thorough knowledge of all the local ponds and lakes. The ones that were the best for Largemouth Bass fishing are usually good for herons -- lots of small to medium Bluegill and Crappie, plus the fingerling Bass. I haven't fished for years, but the familiarity with these bodies of water has served me well in birding. . .I've also found that lakes with a lot of trees on the shoreline are good for Belted Kingfishers. I've learned to listen for their cackling call, and if I hear one -- I keep an eye out and hope to get lucky.

Sparrows and songbirds with relatively short heavy beaks use them to crack seeds, Warblers with their narrow fine beaks eat bugs, Robins and other Thrushes, with their longer thin beaks eat berries, worms and bugs. Orioles and Waxwings like fruit. Bluejays love peanuts (and peanut butter) and gulls or pigeons like anything. . . -- Attracting birds with foods they like concentrates them and can let you get more varied shots. If that's cheating, I do it all the time. . .and feeding birds is a good thing

I've found the 1.7x AFA is not the best for BIF. The AF is fast, but unless the bird is pretty far away, the limited focusing range works against you. I've found a 300mm AF lens between f4 and f5.6 is about the best from a number of standpoints. Some of the best lenses for BIF can be the very inexpensive 70-300 Sigma and Tamron zooms. They're light and easy to handle, pretty sharp at 300mm, and focus reasonably quickly in good light. The K20 was the first Pentax body to focus acceptably for me in AF-C to get good strings, but the K-7 is much improved in this regard, and the K-5 looks to be even better. The faster Frame Rate of the last two make this type of shooting easier, but not necessarily because of the increased FPS. . .

The quicker shutter/mirror needed for higher frame rate also shortens the viewfinder blackout times during exposure, so a flying bird is visible for a few extra microseconds in the viewfinder -- doesn't sound like much, but this makes it easier to track something the speed of a flying bird through a magnified viewfinder. 300mm is long enough to give you adequate reach, but not long enough to make it really difficult to acquire a flying bird that you spot with your bare eyes in the viewfinder.

One last tip -- a cheap Daisy Red Dot Sight for BB guns can be adapted to mount on the hotshoe. Photosolve makes a couple of mounting adapters for this. . .

http://www.photosolve.com/main/produ...ght/index.html

A RDS, when adjusted to the center of the viewfinder at about 30', can allow you to acquire birds, not only in flight, but birds perching in the middle of heavy foliage or a lattice of similar branches. Their are higher quality RDS sights, but the (@ $10) Daisy works pretty well, is very lightweight -- and you don't even have to turn the sight on for it to be useful. I drew some crosshairs on one with an ultrafine sharpie and this works fine. Acquiring a bird in the viewfinder with a long tele usually takes more time than even the slowest AF.

You got some really good shots -- but the lens you have will allow you to get closer -- you'll be shocked at what a difference it can make if you can start shooting them at 8-12 feet away. . .

Scott
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Old Nov 1, 2010, 7:21 PM   #7
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Some good crisp shots, Nick, you did good. That manual 300-2.8 seems like its doing you a fine job.

Hey Scott, thanks for posting that link, I've been thinking about getting a red dot.
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Old Nov 1, 2010, 7:29 PM   #8
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thanks for comments guys, well I wont be buying a new AF 300mm lens anytime soon, so ill have to make do with this one. Im fine with working along its limitations. I do appreciate the tips there scott. I always appreciate new tips to improve bird shots, my favorite thing to capture.

I also think a big improvement will show when i start shooting with my k20d again, as the IST isnt good at all for fast moving critters like the chickadees. I was snapping shots just in hopes they were 'thinking' of taking off or landing. They never seemed to stay in one spot more than a few seconds.

Also the limitations of the 6mp , shot in jpeg proved rough to deal with heavy crops as most of these are. If I had been closer, however, my shots would have turned out more like the red cardinal you see above. The detail on the full blown version is quite unreal but many of the others I was just too far away (20-30 yards) to retain the detail I would like. Im sure 15mp with raw shooting is going to help that substantially in future. The Ist doesnt have a great view finder and the lcd is 1", very tiny! They all looked great in the view finder, then I was a bit disappointed when I got home and cropped them. Cant wait to pair the lens with the k20!

I do have to say, camera aside, this lens is my new baby. I cant tell you the last time I had to apply sharpening on a shot, well it was a day or two before getting this lens these are with no PP

thanks again for the comments, I will definitely be checking out the dot sight, A

Last edited by NMRecording; Nov 1, 2010 at 7:32 PM.
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Old Nov 1, 2010, 8:15 PM   #9
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Hi NMR,

Don't discount the D's ability to get some great bird shots --

Here are two posts of Cardinals shot with the DS, Tamron SP 300/2.8, Tamron 140F 1.4x Adaptall2 TC + the F1.7x AFA (714mm f6.7)

The first is from about 12 feet, and IIRC, the second set were from a little over 8 feet. Again, IIRC, these were all handheld leaning on something for a little support.

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/pe...shot-date.html

This shot was an unexpected opportunity. I had stopped the car after hearing a Cardinal call very close. I stepped out to see if I could spot it, and it was in a tree above and in front of me. I grabbed the camera from the passenger seat and got about 4 shots off. This was the best -- the others suffered from a little camera shake -- not bad, but not I just happened to really nail this one. . .I've gotten a lot of cardinal shots since, but this is still one of my best -- too bad he didn't extend his crest. . .

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/pe...uple-days.html

These were at a feeder at a nature center and took some patience. I had the camera mounted on a very light tripod, but only to keep it at shoulder height so there wouldn't be a lot of movement to get the camera up to my eye ready to shoot. There are 2 feeders there, and I wanted to shoot either easily. Being so close, I had to be very still, but it paid off. These are cropped to cut out the feeder, but not too much -- still more than enough resolution for 8x10 prints.

The K20 will give you a lot of ability to crop, and will definitely give you a handling edge, but the D is very capable if you do your part.

Scott
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Old Nov 2, 2010, 7:06 AM   #10
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Some very nice captures - really shows all the action at the feeder quite well!

Can't add much to what Scott has told you - some great advice for even better bird photos! Just to re-emphasize that, even with a long lens like yours, it really helps to get as close to the action as possible (less cropping, more detail), and to pay close attention to nearby perching places...
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