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Old Mar 20, 2006, 11:50 AM   #11
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Hey thebac !! - Congratulations on your quest and the evident success of it. These gull shots are just GREAT. I am well aware of the difficulty/challenge to capture flying birds, and you have done really great things here !!!!
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Old Mar 20, 2006, 12:50 PM   #12
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Hi JakeTPegg,

thanks for the kind words. The adventure does continue, though. A month later (in mid-late February), I started going to my local pond every weekend. This shot, though not as well in focus as I would have liked, gave me some hope (shot with my 80-200 f/2.8 ED):
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Old Mar 20, 2006, 12:52 PM   #13
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We also had a rare visit by a North American wood duck, so I took a shot of it (actually several), even though it wasn't in flight:


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Old Mar 20, 2006, 12:54 PM   #14
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The next weekend, the North American wood duck wasn't in the local pond anymore, but I went to another pond nearby, and there were actually two North American wood duck couples. This is one of the couples, just before they both took off:


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Old Mar 20, 2006, 12:56 PM   #15
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A blue heron was kind enough to pay us a visit when I went back to the local pond on the same weekend (btw, at this point I was using continuous AF--lots of OOF shots, but I no longer faced the problem of the camera locking up b/c focus hadn't locked yet):


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Old Mar 20, 2006, 1:01 PM   #16
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The next day (same weekend), I had fun running after the Canadian geese. This activity resulted in shots like the following (most were OOF):


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Old Mar 20, 2006, 1:03 PM   #17
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Somewhat encouraged, I returned the following weekend, and ended up stalking an oriole. I got lucky and got a half-in-focus shot like the following (I was now shooting a mixture of aperture priority and shutter priority (in lower light), where ISO was b/t 200 and 400):


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Old Mar 20, 2006, 1:04 PM   #18
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I also got this picture of a Canadian goose the same weekend:


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Old Mar 20, 2006, 1:06 PM   #19
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I was no longer much interested in taking pictures of seagulls, but the following weekend I did take one seagull picture after it picked up a piece of bread from the water:


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Old Mar 20, 2006, 1:13 PM   #20
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I was getting happier with my results, but still, I had a ton of OOF shots. I tried briefly going back to MF, but that didn't work too well. Single-shot AF, with a slow-focusing lens like the one I have, didn't work that well, either. However, I had switched to using the AE/AF lock button as my AF-on button, which did help me.

However, I was still often lacking DoF in my shots, and AF that was slightly off still resulted in OOF pictures.

This past weekend, I then tried two "new" things: One, I put the 70-300G back on, just to see if that one worked better. I knew the IQ of it is inferior to the 80-200 f/2.8 ED, but on the flipside, I wouldn't have to crop as much (I often crop out only a quarter of my pictures b/c of insufficient reach). Two, I decided to shoot at f/8 to increase the DoF. I decided that increasing the ISO (and getting potentially noisier shots) was preferable to OOF shots. It turned out that going from 200 to 500 was enough (I used to go to 400 when it got darker, but I didn't stay that late this past weekend). It turned out that due to the good light, noise was pretty much a non-issue.
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