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Old Aug 27, 2006, 3:03 PM   #1
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Just got finished PP'ing these, and had to show them off.

I went out to run some errands this morning. It was pretty overcast here in Chicago, so I considered not bringing the cam, but thought (as usual) that this would then be the day when something unusual presented itself, so I grabbed the cam. It wasn't very bright outside, so I considered taking the TC off to give me a little more speed, but decided to just leave it on. There hasn't been much going on lately anyhow. . .

I was driving past one of my usual birding spots and noticed some activity so I pulled up closer. I spotted a Northern Flicker, and as I was reaching for the cam, I noticed that all 6 of the birds in the area were Flickers. This was a very unusual situation as I had never seen more than 1 at a time previously.

I bumped the ISO up to 800, but still couldn't get a faster shutter speed than 1/30 with the lens wide open, so I bumped it up to 1600 and started shooting figuring I might get something. Took over 100 shots before the Flickers moved on, and I figured if I got a couple that could print to 4x6, I'd be okay. I was surprised to find that most were probably good enough for 4x6, and a couple were really good enough for even larger prints.



1/60 sec, f8, ISO 1600. shot in jpeg, cropped, PP'd, then resized.



1/45 sec, f8, ISO 1600. shot in jpeg, cropped, PP'd, then resized.



1/60 sec, f8, ISO 1600. shot in jpeg, cropped, PP'd, then resized.

All were a bit overexposed, as I had dialed in +.5 ev since I anticipated shooting silhouettes against the sky, so I also brought the exposures back down to reasonable using ColorWasher 2.0. ISO 1600 is a little noisy, so I used PSPX's excellent Edge-Preserving Smooth to even out the BG. I used a layer to isolate the bird and sharpened it just a tad with Focus Magic and PSPX's High Pass Sharpening, then selectively toned down the sharpening to eliminate halos and noise.

I'm really satisfied with these -- but would have liked an SR equipped Pentax to up the percentage of really good shots -- hopefully will get one soon enough to take advantage of the southern migration. . .

Anyway -- hope you like 'em.

Scott




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Old Aug 27, 2006, 3:08 PM   #2
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they all really nice, 1st is very sharp and little evidence of noise, all your work on them was worth it.
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Old Aug 27, 2006, 3:10 PM   #3
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great shots scott,
which lens??
i have a yellow creasted that lives in an almost dead willow tree. so far since i've seen him he's dug 4 homes. he started at the top and that broke off so moved down about 4. and that broke off. you get the picture.
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Old Aug 27, 2006, 3:25 PM   #4
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Thanks guys.


gfurm -- yeah I think it was worth it -- I'm pretty used to it so it only takes a couple of minutes for each image, but the starting image has to be pretty good to start off with.

Roy, I put it in the Thread Title, but I always miss that too -- It was an FA*300/4.5+ a Pentax F 1.7x Auto-Focusing Adapter. One of the points I was trying to make is that you can at least get lucky shooting 510mm at 1/60 or even 1/45 sec, but SR would have made it easier.

Scott
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Old Aug 27, 2006, 5:28 PM   #5
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I like all three of these shots.

I'm trying to understand how you're getting such slow shutter speeds, are you using the camera on manual or auto setting?

If you use it in manual, you have more control over the shutter speeds, also, if you use the exposure compensation, it could help improve the shots if you can't get the right settings.

Alison
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Old Aug 27, 2006, 5:54 PM   #6
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Glad u decided to take the camera with you. That's a nice yellow streak on the tail feathers.

Slow speed - probably because surounded by leaves!
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Old Aug 27, 2006, 11:44 PM   #7
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Hi Alison,

It was overcast and the lens combo is pretty slow -- I really had nowhere to go to get a reasonable exposure and a faster shutter speed except ISO 3200, which I find tends to disrupt detail more than I like. BTW, I shoot Aperture Priority most of the time, and wide open more often than not, only moving from wide open when I can afford to when the light is bright enough, and I can keep shutter speeds up around 1/500 or faster. I generally use Exposure Compensation to adjust for conditions where the meter cannot do the job as intended -- birds backlit against the sky, or when there are hot spots that would normally blow out detail.

I like these shots too -- they were the best combination of sharpness and subject position of the shots I was able to take. There were actually @ 40 that came out okay, but those birds never listen when I tell them not to turn their heads or fly away. Actually that's the cool thing about shooting them, when you get a good one, it's usually one-of-a-kind.

Hi nlp,

Actually, I usually carry my DS with the 300 +TC with me in the car. It often causes me to have to make an extra trip out to the car to retrieve the unimportant stuff like groceries and such, but too many times in the past I decided not to bother with the cam, and saw something that just needed to be photographed. I don't often leave it behind now during reasonable weather.

Scott

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Old Aug 28, 2006, 12:48 AM   #8
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nice shots! i like the splash of color and detail on the first pic. very sharp. makes me want to get a zoom lens very soon.
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Old Aug 28, 2006, 5:36 AM   #9
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Good ones that you had the right equipment . Wastage is understandably high. Did you brace for any kind of support ?
It is amazing that you had them at 1/60 given the distance. You have sharp eye and really keepers there.

Daniel

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Thanks guys.


gfurm -- yeah I think it was worth it -- I'm pretty used to it so it only takes a couple of minutes for each image, but the starting image has to be pretty good to start off with.

Roy, I put it in the Thread Title, but I always miss that too -- It was an FA*300/4.5+ a Pentax F 1.7x Auto-Focusing Adapter. One of the points I was trying to make is that you can at least get lucky shooting 510mm at 1/60 or even 1/45 sec, but SR would have made it easier.

Scott
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Old Aug 28, 2006, 2:59 PM   #10
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Hi Daniel,

I was shooting from my car and pressed my left arm against the car door and got a pretty stable hold. I also shot bursts which can sometimes help negate camera shake for some of the shots in the burst.

1/60 with a 510mm lens is a bit out of my ability range for standing unsupported, but I have pretty consistantly managed 1/160 free standing, hand-held with the same lens combo with good results -- but it takes significant attention to technique. I know that whichever new Pentax/SR body I end up with might allow me to hand-hold these slow shutter speeds a bit more casually, so hopefully I can get more keepers. I always have a tripod and a monopod in the trunk of the car, but the majority of the time, don't have the luxury of time to get them out and use them.

Scott
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