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Old Mar 23, 2004, 6:30 PM   #1
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Default Bird Photo Critiques, please

I'm trying to figure out all the intricacies of my camera (FZ10) and bird photography in general. I'd like some critiques, please, of my technique. I'm trying different things (blurring background, etc.) and, of course, I am biased! I'd appreciate any pointers you'd be willing to share. The photos are on the link below. Thanks!

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Old Mar 23, 2004, 7:30 PM   #2
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i'm sry.....but i'm not very good at bird photography....but...i like the first picture.....the focus isn't focused on the head as much as the back end....but it an overall nice picture......

we need to get eric over hear
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Old Mar 23, 2004, 7:54 PM   #3
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Make the bird's eye your focus point and try to use medium to small apertures if at all possible. Bird photography is tough because the subjects are generall small, spook easily, and don't take posing directions at all! Good luck and keep working on it.
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Old Mar 23, 2004, 11:21 PM   #4
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I'm coming, give me a sec. I was out at a birding club meeting tonight.

On to the pictures. How critical do you want the comments? I'll first mention some things that you might want to look into using software to fix (they are not technique, but they stuck out too much to not mention.)

You might want to research using "neatimage" (www.neatimage.com) to remove some of the digital noise in the pictures (notice how your sky's aren't smooth? That is "digital noise". If you've used film cameras, its the same a grain in film pictures.) That will help in multiple ways. It will clean it up, and it will also allow you to sharpen the pictures more. Pictures with more noise look really bad when sharpened sooner (the sharpening shows up because the noise gets sharpened too.) Remove the noise, and you can sharpen more before it becomes obvious. If this is what ISO 50 produces on that camera, then you’ll have noise problems no matter what… so get neatimage. It’s free to try so why not?

The purple fringing (most clearly visible in the Downy Woodpecker) has to do with the shot and the camera. Strongly back lit things (like the small branch to the left of the Downy, or the Downy's breast) will get purple fringing in some camera models. Its an attribute of the lens (not the sensor, I believe) and there is only two things you can do. First, don't take pictures with strongly back lit scenes. Not a very good option, but technically it would work. Use an image editor to help reduce the problem. I am not good enough with PhotoShop to tell you how to do it, but I bet others can.

Did you use a tripod? They are annoying, they cut down on spontaneity, they're inconvenient and heavy. And they are the single best accessory you can purchase to improve the quality of your pictures. If you really want to take good bird pictures, get a decent tripod with a ball head. Ask about in the tripod forum if you want more info (and sjm or I will probably answer!)

The concept is great for multiple reasons. First, there is a nice undistracting background. This is very hard to do, usually, because you often have little control over this. Second you got a “catch light” in the eye of the bird (that white reflection of light). This is great because it makes the animal look alive. It’s surprising how much of a difference this makes. You got a good pose. The head is probably turned a bit more than I’d like, but it works. The light is also great, and you have some feather detail there, which is something I always go for.

The downsides. It’s not very sharp. I don’t know if this is because of the low resolution of the camera, or the distance (beyond the resolving power of the lens/sensor) or just motion blur (doesn’t look like that to me, though.) Was this picture enlarged or cropped? Did you do anything to it after taking the picture? What?

Reducing this picture would probably make it sharper, but do that after using neatimage.

Notice how this has no purple fringing? Its because nothing is back lit.

Lacking a lot of detail. How did you edit this picture? Most of the downsides of this are the same as #1. I like the pose, although it doesn’t tell a story (like #3 does) and it isn’t the “classic” style of #1. So I wouldn’t say “wow” but it’s nice.

It’s a tossup between this one and #1 for my favorite. It tells a story. Something is going on that we can understand and that brings out interesting and a connection. I really like how much spray there is and the feathers sticking up. Well done!

Downsides. Notice the brown fringing around the tail and feathers on the back? There is also some purple fringing as well. Nothing you can really do about that… maybe you can lessen it with PhotoShop, I don’t know. I find the background a little busy, and would have tried to isolate the subject more (the background more out of focus.) This is easier said than done, though.

I hope that helps. Avian photography is very hard. The subjects are small, fast moving, and uncooperative. Don’t despair. My “keeper” rate is between 10 and 20%. It’s not easy, especially if you have high standards.

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Old Mar 24, 2004, 12:41 AM   #5
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the noise is very distracting- they have a very soft appearance when I view them in their full size- however the sharpness is brought back when they're minimized.
the third one is a nice capture - but it's soft-and the noise is killer on it.

the 2nd picture has some nasty purple fringing.

the first is a classic view- very nice but the noise is a drawback.

all nice captures- but I dont know what happened but those images should be resized to half of their size to add to the detail-
there's something wrong with the noise and sharpness of your images-
perhaps you resized them?
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Old Mar 24, 2004, 6:23 AM   #6
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Default About then noise.....

These are really great things to think about! Yes, I wanted critiques - I know these pictures all have some problems but I really wasn't entirely sure what the problems were. I haven't done anything to the pictures other than crop the woodpecker. I am using a tripod (researched here - (Manfrotto with ball head), but the woodpecker was moving. I think the noise may be from the combination of zoom on the camera and the teleconverter? The camera is 4 mp but only has a 12x optical, so to get the woodpecker I had to use not only the optical and TC but some of the digital zoom also. I see the noise in the backlit pics, but not really in the others I take.

In the first posted pic, I tried to lessen depth of field and it did seem to work (even though she did move her head...) but in the last one (birdbath) I tried to have optimum depth of field but the foliage behind isn't sharp, and I'm not sure why. When I read how to do things, it seems so easy, but when I'm out there it just doesn't seem quite as simple......

Anyway, I'm trying! I really appreciate the feedback and any other suggestions you have.
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