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Old Jul 11, 2004, 4:31 AM   #1
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I have tried many times to get the exposure etc right with black colored birds and finally got these today before he flew off having noticed me.

This first one is my prefered shot

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style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"this was the first shot I took while he was feeding in the bush



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Old Jul 11, 2004, 8:33 AM   #2
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Hi, Julie - I think that you've done pretty well in capturing these crow shots. I can't speak from personal experience but it just seems that the difficulties with photographing really dark birds like crows, with shiny feathers, is that it is tough to get the exposure right so that you can bring out the feather detail yet not blow out the highlights in the photograph. You seem to have done a very good job in trying to overcome that.

Some questions: Were you using a flash? What focal length and distance were you at when you snapped these shots? You used your DRebel, right?
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Old Jul 11, 2004, 9:18 AM   #3
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Yes I used the digital Rebel, hand held, with 300mm lens, was on the auto, no flash setting. the lens was zoomed top full capacity and I was about 30 feet from the crow.
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Old Jul 11, 2004, 8:46 PM   #4
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I've found with black birds of any kind that I need to toy quite a bit with exposure, usually needing to overexpose the background in order to capture feather details. I've resigned myself to the fact that I need to use a fill flash if at all possible in these situations.

With the Rebel in auto I've found that it has a tendencey to overexpose in high contrast situations such as the very dark bird and the lighter background.

I personally think that these are excellent photographs of this difficult bird (the first and last photos) and I think that your "auto" mode probably popped up that onboard flash. Notice the concentration of light on the center of the bird and the lack of detail in the branch. In otherwords, your flash did what it was supposed to do, expose the dark area that you set.

I believe that some photographers sometimes set their exposure to the background, lock focus, then set their fill flash on the bird in order to properly expose the darker subject.

I think you should be happy with #1 and #3, understanding that in order to eliminate the circle of light in the central area you would need to probably overexpose the background without using flash or purchase a Canon EX450 or 550 Flash and perhaps use a diffuser when you are so close. That would soften the extremeness of light I believe. I don't use this technique but I own a flash head diffuser (they are cheap) and they seem to work fine but weaken the flash so you need to be close. It looks like you were relatively close to this bird if you used a 300mm lens.

Great photos of a difficult subject, and your sharpness is real nice.
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Old Jul 11, 2004, 9:06 PM   #5
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Hehe - what Norm said... :-)

It's good to have you back and adding your great comments, Norm! It's been somewhat quiet here over the weekend.
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Old Jul 11, 2004, 9:29 PM   #6
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Norm, I know there was no flash, the camera was set to the no flash position and it did not pop up or go off. The sunlight was coming through the trees and it was a matter of waiting for the right light. I have no Idea how it turned out like it did but Im reasonably happy with them:-)
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Old Jul 11, 2004, 10:28 PM   #7
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I was waiting for you to comment on that alady, as I was unsure exactly why the light seemed to fill the bird in that one specific place, but nowhere else. I suspect that there were trees behind you and, as you say, you were waiting for the sun to hit the bird correctly before pressing the shutter.

I'll say this for sure, you are focusing on the "right" thing, allowing natural light to turn your subject into a masterful work. I'm even more impressed with your job-well-done after your response.

I think you are a natural, and you need to get away from that "autofocus" now and get on with manual settings. You are definitely ready for it as far as I'm concerned. I know that auto is comfortable, and it took alot for me, myself, to leave it behind. Just remember, in the crunch, you can always return to it if necessary.

Aladyforty, it's time for you to go full manual on that Rebel. Just my personal view. You are definitely talented and that's why I'm suggesting this move.
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Old Jul 12, 2004, 12:20 AM   #8
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Nicely done. I always like it when someone can show a "common" bird isn't really that common looking. Catching them with the sheen (sp?) is always fun.

I agree with everyone that the first and last are technically the best shot.

The technical reason for why pure black (and pure white) birds are so hard to shoot is that they fool the camera. Most metering systems in cameras are designed to assume the metering location reflects light like grey does. So when you point the camera at something which is radically different, it "adjusts" by treating that color as grey.

So if you take a picture of a egret (pure white) it will darken that shot (try to make the white grey.) So to correct for that you have to lighten the shot (lower shutter speed or increase aperture.) If you take a picture of a black bird it will shift it towards grey and lighten the shot. So to correct for that you have to darken the shot (more shutter or less aperture.)

The tricky part is how this plays out depending on the metering mode (which is camera dependent.) This I haven't fully internalized yet. If you use partial metering mode (which is basically a spot meter, where it meters a very small part of the center of the view) you know exactly what it's metering, but it can be fooled more easily. If you use center weight average is meters over about 90% of the picture with a heavy emphasis on the center of the picture. evaluative just views the entire picture equally. So Center Weight or Eval shouldn't be fooled by the black bird on white background because it should sense that is what the picture is and handle that (i.e. should need less adjustment.) The reality is that each setting gets some situations right and others wrong.... you just have to figure out which fits your style better and learn its quirks (when it's wrong.)

Eric

ps. I won't get into the fancier metering modes which have a table of 1000+ situations and it just "picks" the right settings based on its view of the scene and the lookup table. I think Nikon favored that in there high end SLRs. It can work very well in odd situations and badly in others (sounds fimilar?)
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Old Jul 12, 2004, 12:24 AM   #9
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yes, well Im experimenting now, whenI get something worth posting I will:-) Dont forget ive only had the camera 2 to 3 weeks. Every time I use the G3 I forget the settings on the rebel and vis versa and how to set it up:-)
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Old Jul 12, 2004, 12:29 AM   #10
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Eric, excellent treatise on exposure and metering. Do you see that this photo has a center overexposure, or do you disagree with me on the exposure. If not, then please give me some ideas, in a situation like this, how I might be able to reduce the overexposure on the central portion of the subject. Thanks, as always.
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