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Old Apr 23, 2009, 11:33 AM   #21
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In those latest 6 shots, you are still shooting the shady side of the bird.

You need to reposition yourself so that the sun is behind you somewhere and the side of the bird that you are looking at is fully illuminated. The more the sun is off to the side, either left or right, the deeper the shadows will be if you catch a bird in profile - you will lose details in the shadows. Shadows are good in some cases, like landscape shots to give a 3D effect or mood shots, but not usually in wildlife shots.

The best times of the day for shooting in general is the first 3 hours of the day and the last 3 hours of the day but too early or late and there will be a color caste from the light. Mid day sunshine is often too harsh. Mid day on overcast days can be good as it is often still bright enough to shoot with a good shutter speed but shadows are muted due the dispersion of light by the clouds. Overcast days also bring out the colors on some subjects.

With the camera in Aperture mode and set to F8, use Spot Focus and Spot Exposure Meter and do some half presses on the shutter to see where the camera wants to expose to. Then adjust your iso or reduce/increase your aperture but keep the shutter speed to around 1/400th or faster if you can.

You may need to build yourself a shooting blind (just like a duck hunter) to get closer to the birds. Don't laugh... a lot of birders use this technique. Ever notice how hawks at roadside never fly when the car stops but as soon as you get out they're off? The car is a rolling blind.

Some people use hunting blinds...
http://www.cabelas.com/archery/treestands-blinds/big-game-archery-blinds.shtml

Usually there is a good sale on a couple of these portable pop-up models after hunting season is over.

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Old Apr 23, 2009, 12:35 PM   #22
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NewsyL wrote:
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In those latest 6 shots, you are still shooting the shady side of the bird.

You need to reposition yourself so that the sun is behind you somewhere and the side of the bird that you are looking at is fully illuminated. The more the sun is off to the side, either left or right, the deeper the shadows will be if you catch a bird in profile - you will lose details in the shadows. Shadows are good in some cases, like landscape shots to give a 3D effect or mood shots, but not usually in wildlife shots.

The best times of the day for shooting in general is the first 3 hours of the day and the last 3 hours of the day but too early or late and there will be a color caste from the light. Mid day sunshine is often too harsh. Mid day on overcast days can be good as it is often still bright enough to shoot with a good shutter speed but shadows are muted due the dispersion of light by the clouds. Overcast days also bring out the colors on some subjects.

With the camera in Aperture mode and set to F8, use Spot Focus and Spot Exposure Meter and do some half presses on the shutter to see where the camera wants to expose to. Then adjust your iso or reduce/increase your aperture but keep the shutter speed to around 1/400th or faster if you can.

You may need to build yourself a shooting blind (just like a duck hunter) to get closer to the birds. Don't laugh... a lot of birders use this technique. Ever notice how hawks at roadside never fly when the car stops but as soon as you get out they're off? The car is a rolling blind.

Some people use hunting blinds...
http://www.cabelas.com/archery/treestands-blinds/big-game-archery-blinds.shtml

Usually there is a good sale on a couple of these portable pop-up models after hunting season is over.

.
You are correct.I was still shooting the shady side and thank you for that advice to keep the sun behind you.This isthe only shotI can get in theeveningbecause the opposite side has no place for me to be inconspicious and yet close. But this weekend Im going totry or just move the feeder to the front yard if I can't do anything in the morning.
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Old Apr 23, 2009, 9:57 PM   #23
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Oh well, not one bird to shoot until the light was almost gone. I will try again tomorrow.
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Old Apr 26, 2009, 11:05 PM   #24
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Ok, went out this morning (Sunday) and managed to take some more pics which I do believe, are better than the others, Getting closer really helped the pics out along with shooting at F8. I can really see how a couple more mm would have been great and maybe even using the monopod. I see some shake that I can do without. Oh yeah, I shot these in Raw and used the Sony software. All I did was auto NR, but hey gotta start somewhere. :lol:

http://picasaweb.google.com/anton.mo...eat=directlink
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Old Apr 28, 2009, 12:49 PM   #25
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I took a look at them... getting better but still several with the same old shady side of bird issue.

The best of the bunch to me is #1 - you can see some detail there. Too bad you did not zoom in a little tighter. You're only at 180mm so you had more lens to use. But if you check the focal plane, it looks like you are focused behind the bird. Check where the grass stems are sharpest.

#8 looked to have lots of potential but once I enlarged the image I could see some shake which is too bad because it looks like the focus was bang on. The bird also needs to have its' head turned looking over its' shoulder to make it interesting.

I read your comment on using "Auto NR". You have to be very careful with auto noise reduction as it can rob your images of detail. Frankly, I have had a very tough time with Sony's IDC and extracting clean detail from an image. Make sure you view the image at 200%, 100%, and 50% when you play with the options in IDC.

Regardless of the issues of getting sharpness out of RAW, if the base image is badly out of focus (OOF), no amount of software post processing (PP) is going to salvage the image. Looking at your images, most of them are OOF.

From the info in Picasa I cannot tell what your camera set-up was. For birds on the ground or in trees, you should use center SPOT focus. You may want to pre-focus on an element of the feeder to ensure you have the right focal plane before a bird lands and then blaze away in continuous drive mode.

Something is not right with your focus. Have you checked this lens for FF (front focus) and BF (back focus) issues. If you Googled the terms you'd find how to do it.


Here... http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&q=...arch&meta=


http://photo.net/learn/focustest/
- may have the best illustration of the chart technique.

http://regex.info/blog/photo-tech/focus-chart
- good too

Some people use lined up batteries - the chart is the best way.

Try to do the test at short, mid, and long focal lengths because most zoom lens are not consistent in their behavior across their full focal length.

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Old Apr 28, 2009, 5:22 PM   #26
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Meant to add something regarding how you are holding the camera to minimize camera shake induced blur.


There are several interesting videos on YouTube.

Joe McNally's "Da Grip" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDsx3-FWfwk
- I use a version of the grip shown and have found it quite effective when I really try to use it. I have several shots at 1/80 to 1/100 at 750mm (35mm) that are steady.


Others:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3JdWYzxUgw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7ZDPnXeBeo



Check out the "Related Videos" section on the right side of the screen - might be something of interest there as well.

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Old Apr 28, 2009, 6:02 PM   #27
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Thanks again Newsy for the comments, I will get this straight yet. I have heard of the focusing issue, just hope I'm not a victim. Some of my shots were shot manual because the auto focus would scare the birds away or just hunt like crazy giving the bird time to fly off. Believe it or not the trees at my house make shooting with the sun at my back a bit difficult now that the leaves have grown back, so I am going to try and go somewhere maybe the botanical gardens and see what can happen there. i am going to check your links out hopefully tonight and see how my grip can be better.
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