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Old Apr 16, 2009, 8:31 AM   #11
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Thanks for the comments.I was thinking that maybe the bird was too small. I'll try and get closer today and see what the outcome is. But how about the overallcolors of the picture, haveI given you enough to see ifmy camera is taking good pics? Is their a test or anything that I can shoot like flowers I guess to make sure that the camera itself is taking pictures as it should?I hope this makes sense.
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Old Apr 16, 2009, 8:42 AM   #12
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antonlmo wrote:
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But how about the overallcolors of the picture, haveI given you enough to see ifmy camera is taking good pics?
I don't see the camera is doing anything wrong - but you have to understand how to use the tool. The frame is dominated by the grass which is OOF (as it should be) and better lit than the bird and feeder. So it's a challenging exposure. Without spot metering the camera is not going to get the bird exposed properly. But that's why they invented manual exposure or exposure compensation. The colors on the bird aren't great because it's underexposed. The detail isn't there because it fills up too small a portion of the frame. DSLRs are not magic tools. They get it right by themselves when the lighting is perfect. When you see other people with great shots it's often because they know how to position themselves to get the light right, shoot at the correct time of day and know how to tweak the exposure levers on the camera to get a good result. By the way, would it surprise you to know that many wildlife shooters use flash (not the built in flash but external flash)?
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Old Apr 16, 2009, 12:22 PM   #13
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(oh wierdness... I didn't see John's post before starting mine so I've just repeated most of what he said, sorry!)


antonlmo wrote:
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But how about the overallcolors of the picture, haveI given you enough to see ifmy camera is taking good pics?
From the feeder picture above, what I see is that you are shooting the dark side of the bird against a bright background. You have NOT positioned yourself to take advantage of the local light which in this case is the sun.

You'll probably never get great pictures from this feeder and that shooting position unless you use a flash for fill light.

Never shoot the shady side of the bird....

You, the photographer, have to move yourself off to a better shooting position to get the sun somewhere behind you or off to the side a bit but then your background is going to be the side of the house which is not as appealing as that nice green background of the image.

You may want to move your feeder and you may want to set-up a "stage" for shots. What I mean by that is a lot of the people that are getting great bird shots do it by setting up near the feeder a landing spot, or "stage", which the birds fly to before moving to the feeder. Almost like a portrait studio for people. They will mount bare dead branches with nice textured bark near the feeder with a clear line of sight and oriented to the natural light so you always see the lit side of the bird.


Btw... I'm using a Sigma 50-500 as a previous post suggested and at times I still find that too short. It also needs a LOT of light for a good exposure as the best f-stop for sharpness is around f11-f13. I'm still learning the lens but you can check out my bird shots here:

http://newsy.smugmug.com/gallery/189956_UBwBR#P-1-15

If you go back a page or two you'll see a shot of a Peregrine Falcon which is an example of shooting against a bright background/sky. I had to do a lot of post processing after the fact to get this detail out of the shots and I'm not happy with the results but it is the only Peregrine Falcon I've seen to date so I posted it.

I have hundreds of shots where I've shot the shady side of the bird and while I can see they are sharp at the edges, there is nothing I can do to extract a nice looking image from a dark blob.

Don't give up... give your camera a chance to prove itself. Think about the light!


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Old Apr 16, 2009, 8:55 PM   #14
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antonlmo wrote:
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Thanks for the comments.I was thinking that maybe the bird was too small. I'll try and get closer today and see what the outcome is. But how about the overallcolors of the picture, haveI given you enough to see ifmy camera is taking good pics? Is their a test or anything that I can shoot like flowers I guess to make sure that the camera itself is taking pictures as it should?I hope this makes sense.
Colors are GREAT. The greens of the grass pop right off the screen. The reds of the bird (in picture #5) are proper and quite good.

Details of the branches seem to indicate good sharpness.

Looks like you got a great camera and functional lens.



So what is "wrong". Size/distance (as stated by others). Lighting (or the lack thereof) or wrong lighting. Your positon/angle of the lens... what some would call perspective.

In shot #9 you are shooting with the lens nearly horizontal to the ground. The belly of the bird as well as the backside of the bird are nearly equal in exposure. Go look at those great bird pics you like so well or better yettake a look at classic John James Audubon paintings of birds.

http://www.audubon.org/bird/boa/BOA_index.html

Yes the bird is always showcased in the picture, but almost always from a slight angle. Maybe an upwards angle to showcase the belly and head. Maybe a downward angle to showcase the wings and back. Besides showing a better overall view of the bird, the angles also add interest or a unique perspective to the picture.

Perspective Techniques can be taught, but in reality it takes practice. For some of us (me specifically) it takes a lot of practice.

Here is a learning trick. Suspend a basketball or beachballfrom a string hanging from a tree branch about eye level.Now photograph the ball. From 360 degrees. If you are most people, you will walk around the ball shooting a couple dozen pictures with your camera lens perfectly horizontal to the ground. Buzz. Wrong. Yes, 360 degrees is the circumference of the ball, but the horizontal circumference is not the only circumference of the ball. When I say shoot the ball from 360 degrees, I truly mean shooting the ball with your lens pointed at every point on the circumference of the ball.

Your knees are going to get grass stains. You might need a ladder. Congradulations, you have just taken your first photo laying on your back.

99% of those pictures are going to be plain old boring pictures. 1% of the pictures might have some merit..... the position of the ball versus the horizon or the sky, the way the letterswritten on the ballwraps into or out of the frame.The eye of the photographer is a learning process. What angle is good, what angle isn't good takes lots of practice. Don't be afraid to experiment.


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Old Apr 16, 2009, 8:57 PM   #15
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Thanks for all the comments/suggestions/examples frome everyone. A lot of food for thought. I have been using a DSLR since January I believe, so I know that my inexperience is the root of my problems. But I went and moved the feeder so tomorrow hopefully I will have a couple of more shots to compare and they should be better. Now to go and find what OOF means. lol
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Old Apr 22, 2009, 7:26 PM   #16
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Ok. Got a second to go out before the sun went down and managed to get closer. Thecolors are a little off because my AWB was set to cloudy. Anyway are these better than the first?
http://picasaweb.google.com/anton.mo...eat=directlink

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Old Apr 22, 2009, 8:57 PM   #17
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Yes, but closer would be even better. ;-)

Also, I notice that you're still shooting with the aperture wide open at f/5.6 with a focal length of 300mm. That's where your lens is going to be at it's softest (longest focal length, widest available aperture).

You may want to consider trying it at around f/8 or so instead to get a bit sharper images, as well as getting more Depth of Field (if you're not focused on the bird's head, you may find sharpness to be lacking with a very shallow Depth of Field at wider apertures when filling the frame much).

But, your shutter speeds were bit on the slow side (1/100 to 1/125 second in those samples). Without stabilization, you'd want shutter speeds of around 1/500 second to reduce blur from camera shake using a 300mm focal length (equivalent to 450mm on a 35mm camera).

So, even with stabilization, you're "borderline" trying to use shutter speeds that slow when zoomed in all the way, unless you're using a tripod. I'd make sure to keep the camera as steady as possible and use a smooth "trigger finger" when squeezing the shutter button. If the bird was not motionless, you may be getting a bit of motion blur at shutter speeds that slow, too (and stabilization won't help with that). Faster shutter speeds would be a better way to go (increase your ISO speed when needed).

If you do try to stop down the aperture any for better sharpness and depth of field (which will decrease the light getting through the lens), make sure to keep an eye on the shutter speeds you're getting (again, increase ISO speed if needed for faster speeds). You'll need to worry about blur from camera shake (which increases as focal lengths get longer) and blur from subject movement.

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Old Apr 23, 2009, 8:27 AM   #18
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I really dont think i'm going to be able to get much closer. I was hidden on the side of a corner andthe restwhen they were about to land, did a 180 in mid air when they saw me (guess they thought I was going to mug them lol). I wa shockedthese two stayed as long as they did. Af noise frightened oneaway thatI think would have ade a great shot. I completely forgot about shooting at a lower F-top . But I will definitely remember today when I get home. I will probably have to shoot in full manual because for some reason even though I thought the light was suffiecient, the shutter speed was too low. SoI know at F8 it's probably going to be a concern. Well I will post new shots this evening.
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Old Apr 23, 2009, 9:33 AM   #19
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You wouldn't have to shoot in full manual. You could use Aperture Priority and select your aperture.

But, if you do use something like f/8 in that same lighting, you'll probably need to use around ISO 800 (which will increase noise levels) to get your shutter speeds up to acceptable levels. There are always tradeoffs, and a smaller aperture (higher f/stop number) is going to reduce the amount of light seen by the camera, requiring faster shutter speeds for the same lighting and ISO speed.

Just keep an eye on your shutter speed in your viewfinder and adjust aperture or ISO speed as needed.

You're not using any filters, are you? For example, a Polarizer can cause a significant loss of light (usually around 2 stops, depending on how it's rotated). So, in lower light, you may want to remove one.

If you do increase ISO speed much, you may want to make sure DRO (Dynamic Range Optimization) is turned off. Otherwise, the camera may try to boost any underexposed (i.e, shadow) areas, leading to more visible noise in the image.


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Old Apr 23, 2009, 9:50 AM   #20
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I was shooting in Aperture mode. Do you think its wise to go up to ISO 800 with the A100?
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