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      Whatbird Forums Rules   01/08/17

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Rogue Birder

Back to basics

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Recently there have been so many posts that seem to stem from folks just not understanding how cameras work. Let this topic serve as a question and answer forum.

 

Some things to study up on... (the focus of this thread is "technically correct" not composition - that is purely subjective)

 

What do these things mean? Let's get some basic info in here for everyone.

 

E=IxT

f-stop

shutterspeed

ISO

stop

critical focus

blown highlights

underexposed (yeah - it needs defined)

over sharpened

color corrected

flat

contrasty (made up word that has meaning in photography)

depth of field

aperture

bulb

fill flash

FLM

 

Joe, Michael, Doug, JimBob, any topics I missed?

 

Ask and ye shall receive!

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Thank you for this! I've been trying to improve my photography recently, and have only just started playing with settings to see how different shots turn out, so I'm looking forward to the information in this thread!

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This is wonderful, Chris/Rogue Birder.

Probably about 80% of the questions/issues here are a result of lack of knowledge, working knowledge of photography basics. There will always be newer things to learn, but the basics remain a constant.

Thanks!

 

One item you might include is light quality and direction. Bird photography is often a quick response and we don't have time to optimize conditions, but for me, I can't tell you how many times I glance down at my shadow to see the direction of the light, and how I might approach a subject.

 

Michael

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This thread should be pinned! Great idea! Unfortunately, I have a feeling some people are going to ignore this and go on repeating the same posts. Whatever happened to the "Cheapest-best Camera"?  I think it would be a good idea to make a thread for that as well.

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Joe, Michael, Doug, JimBob, any topics I missed?

 

 

I'm surprised you listed me... must be a better photographer then I think! :)

 

(p.s. I don't know what FLM or X=lxT are ;))

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I'm surprised you listed me... must be a better photographer then I think! :)

 

(p.s. I don't know what FLM or X=lxT are ;))

I don't know what they are either.

 

Then again, I didn't make the list so that should be expected, I suppose. ;)

 

*Off to Google*

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Okay, let's talk basics.  I'm trying not to be a pain, I know eventually I'll figure this out, but let's start with this link to a YouTube video covering shutter speed, ISO and exposure...

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8T94sdiNjc

 

This guy is basically pushing his book, but the video does give a good run down of the basics, and in it he suggests shutter priority for "action" pictures.  And I know there are those who might not agree with that. 

 

I shot this picture before mid-day, I'd say, roughly around 11:30 am.  I shot it in manual with the shutter at 1/800, ISO 200 aperture 6.3  I had the focal length at 190mm.  I would say, that I probably should have adjusted the aperture.  Because the picture came out too dark.  I could not bracket the picture, because as you can see it was a one time shot.  I had to adjust the contrast and shadowing and sharpness in post processing.  As well hit it with a noise reduction.   Again, I screwed up.  And I'm telling you, LOL, these birds are starting to get more agressive in gaurding their nest, at least the male.  He went at me more this time around than the first time. 

 

He crapped on me.  REALLY!!  He crapped on me. LOL.  I don't know how many more times, I can go after theses birds before I get it right?  Or, maybe, it's because I'm shooting upwards, and the lighting is more intense that way?  I don't know?

 

tumblr_n72rd4DSPF1tv3qkto1_1280.jpg

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This thread should be pinned! Great idea! Unfortunately, I have a feeling some people are going to ignore this and go on repeating the same posts. Whatever happened to the "Cheapest-best Camera"?  I think it would be a good idea to make a thread for that as well.

Over at DPReview, which is the world's largest and likely best source for photo gear info, on the forums the most asked questions are about 'what to buy'.

In your case,  "Cheapest-best Camera", is very relative. Cheapest and Best have a lot of different meanings to people.

 

But, believe me, what Rogue Birder has set out here (learning the BASICS) will allow people to much better and accurately to decide for themselves what gear to buy.

 

So if someone has a budget of say $300. and wants the best 'record' of a bird, that would indicate some camera choices.

But if further along, someone has a budget of say $1,500. and wants accurate photos of a larger shorebirds, it would indicate quite different gear.

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I'm surprised you listed me... must be a better photographer then I think! :)

 

(p.s. I don't know what FLM or X=lxT are ;))

 

FLM - Focal Length Multiplier. It is the "crop" factor of the sensor of cameras that do not have a full size sensor. Nikon D90 = 1.5 - Canon t3i = 1.6

 

E=IxT   - This one is really important. Exposure = Intensity x Time  Intensity is "how much light", Time is "how long it hits the film/sensor". It is meant to demonstrate that when you increase/reduce one, you need to reduce/increase the other to maintain proper exposure.

 

For example, 1/1000s @f/5.6 is the same exposure as 1/500 @f/8. Also 1/250s @f/11, 1/125s @f/16, etc. 

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Okay, let's talk basics.  I'm trying not to be a pain, I know eventually I'll figure this out, but let's start with this link to a YouTube video covering shutter speed, ISO and exposure...

 

 

 

 

'Eventually' may take time!

Far far too many people think that it all (understanding photo basics) is a matter of taking in a few YouTubes.

If someone told you it might take a year or two or three (or more) to get the BASICS down it might sound crazy.

 

I'm not trying to be harsh, but a lot of this can be learned by 'learning' somehow and then applying and then learning more and re-applying.

 

Kunsthure recently posted about how her course(s) in photography where she had to do setups to practice basics. That's a common (and effective) way to learn.

I strongly recommend people to get away from bird photography to learn............

Shoot in your backyard, perhaps and play with and shoot at various settings. Then look at the images and the EXIF and see what does what the best.

 

As I had mentioned before, there is no 'right' aperture or shutter speed. BUT, there is a right combination that will yield quality images, and that can vary with every shot, every bird! Knowing the basics helps* greatly in getting good shots.

* Sometimes luck plays into things (and let's not underestimate the quality of light!).

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I shot this picture before mid-day, I'd say, roughly around 11:30 am.  I shot it in manual with the shutter at 1/800, ISO 200 aperture 6.3  I had the focal length at 190mm.  I would say, that I probably should have adjusted the aperture.  Because the picture came out too dark.  I could not bracket the picture, because as you can see it was a one time shot.  I had to adjust the contrast and shadowing and sharpness in post processing.  As well hit it with a noise reduction.  

 

NOTE: This topic will be for honest, sometimes hard to hear, critique of photos including exposure, lighting, processing, composition. If you are overly sensitive, do not post a photo here. Please include camera model, lens, and all pertinent camera settings. Also, if you are going to post a heavily post-processed photo please also post the original untouched image. If you brighten, darken, sharpen, do crazy halo things to the photo then we cannot tell what really happened.

 

Santora,

 

When you want to capture bird-in-flight (BIF) photos you need to have the fastest shutter speed possible. Increase the ISO to the limit your camera can produce satisfactory images and open the aperture as wide as possible to maintain the depth-of-field (DOF) you desire. Adjust shutter speed for proper exposure. To accurately assist with the photo you posted, I would need to see the original. Also, it "came out too dark" because you are shooting toward the sky and trusting that little meter thing in the viewfinder. Once you post your original I can better explain.

 

RB

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Shoot in your backyard, perhaps and play with and shoot at various settings. Then look at the images and the EXIF and see what does what the best.

 

Exactly! And you don't have to shoot birds to become a better bird photographer. Shoot EVERYTHING. 

 

I have seen many posts on this site about "shaky hands". And so many excuses as to why they just can't be still. Now, granted, if you have some sort of nerve damage or Parkinson's or are unnaturally weak, then ok - get a tripod. Otherwise, steady hands come from practice.

 

When I first got the Canon 400L lens I ran outside and shot a bunch of "REALLY COOL" photos... no - they all were blurry and underexposed and, well, they sucked. I had never shot with such a long lens. I needed to learn how to hold it, how to steady my arms. I spent hours in the backyard shooting a salt shaker that I sat on the deck railing. I started at f/5.6 to get the fastest shutter speed, then when I started getting the hang of that I shot at f/8. After a couple of weeks I was able to shoot the 400L and get decent ID photos at 1/60s. 

 

After that it was time to start shooting kids on bikes, trains, cars on the freeway, BIRDS! Things that move. A challenging aspect of bird photography (well, photography in general) is that you have to be able to move the camera while remaining perfectly steady. This is called panning. Great for BIF shots, especially ducks and such. 

 

You can use the same practice techniques to learn about aperture and ISO and shutter speed and light direction. A fun lesson is to place an object in your yard at 8:00 AM - Every hour stand in the same spot and shoot a frame. Then, after the sun goes down look at the photos. Compare the results based on the direction of the light. Or, for the advanced student, every hour take one frame from each side/angle... say 8 shots (N, S, E, W, NE, NW, SE, SW). This will help you establish how light falls on the subject at different times of the day. 

 

It's a lot of work. But it is worth it.

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Here's one of my favorite photos I've taken.  Rip it apart! :D

 

Canon Rebel XSi

300mm

AE mode

1/400 @ f5.6

ISO 500

No post-processing

 

Hey there Ant! Nice shot. Exposure looks good (surprising on auto mode). Has this been cropped from the original, or is this the entire image?

 

Only thing that jumps out are the branches (the blurry one and the little nub at the bottom). But sometimes we have to accept those. Your camera did a good job.

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Hey there Ant! Nice shot. Exposure looks good (surprising on auto mode). Has this been cropped from the original, or is this the entire image?

 

Only thing that jumps out are the branches (the blurry one and the little nub at the bottom). But sometimes we have to accept those. Your camera did a good job.

 

No cropping on the photo - that's straight out of the camera.  The branches are annoying, especially the blurry one!  I suppose there's no good way to clone that out with post-processing.  I'll chalk this one up to being at the right place at the right time and getting lucky!

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As Rogue Birder wrote, camera steadiness is an important topic.

 

Technically, birds are among the most difficult of photographic subjects so a good foundation in photgraphic technique in general is a good place to start.  Those who only use the cameras' automatic functions without an understanding of the consequences of the camera's choices will forever be wondering why some of their pictures didn't work.

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Here's one of my favorite photos I've taken.  Rip it apart! :D

no post-processing

Rip it apart?????  :)

My goodness, you did very well, especially considering no PP.

The Cedar Waxwing is quite challenging to get a good exposure, in my opinion. Most of the nits (branches) could be cleaned up fairly easily.

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This is all great info guys! Really appreciate it and why is Amber not mentioned on the list? Her photos are ace :)

Aw, thanks Misstheo. It's okay though. I'm still a photography newbie. I have lots to learn yet. :)

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Here's one of my favorite photos I've taken.  Rip it apart! :D

 

Canon Rebel XSi

300mm

AE mode

1/400 @ f5.6

ISO 500

No post-processing

 

9413593986_49f2f5b19e.jpg

Cedar Waxwing by anke0020, on Flickr

 

Not much to 'rip' here, as sometimes little things like the sticks in the background can't be helped.  Thankfully, those are very easily fixed with Photoshop if that's something that you're okay with doing.

 

The one thing here that Photoshop can't fix, and really subtracts from the image, is that you're missing eye contact.  The waxwing is looking backwards and not at you. 

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Here's one of my favorite photos I've taken.  Rip it apart! :D

 

Canon Rebel XSi

300mm

AE mode

1/400 @ f5.6

ISO 500

No post-processing

 

9413593986_49f2f5b19e.jpg

Cedar Waxwing by anke0020, on Flickr

As I noted previously, I'm impressed with this image.

To go along with the thread here of 'basics', I think that some basic editing should be part of our workflow, and presentation.

 

This is a fairly basic (non-Photoshop!) edit from your Flickr image:

 

14411595571_26e20de968_o.jpgCedar Waxwing by anke0020 by canuckguyinadarkroom, on Flickr

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'Eventually' may take time!

Far far too many people think that it all (understanding photo basics) is a matter of taking in a few YouTubes.

If someone told you it might take a year or two or three (or more) to get the BASICS down it might sound crazy.

I know that, I was just trying to get an opinion on that video. 

 

Thanks for the input.

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Hmmm... OK, I'll give it ago. Please "rip" this photo apart. I'm not sensitive when it comes to the photo department because I know I'm pretty mediocre at photography....  and I really want to try and improve. 

 

 

med_gallery_76284_5448_9115.jpg

 

 

Taken with Nikon P510 Coolpix  Bridge camera

 

78 mm

Manual mode

1/800, f4.9

ISO 220

No post-processing 

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