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PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 4:51 pm 

Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2008 3:46 am
Posts: 361
I have to say that over the past few weeks with you all getting sun, migrants, and some fantastic shots while I've dealing with intermittent spring snow and freezing rain, I've become quite jealous. In the process, I've begun to wonder how much of your photo-magnificence comes directly from the camera/your technique and how much comes from your editing/the computer.

So, if you would be willing, please share your basic post-processing technique, as well as a few other bits of info to round out the package. Wolfsong, zackiedawg, popo, Rui, kpr, K Lantz.... I'm looking at you! I'd really like to hear from some of our less-frequent posters, too.

Hopefully this thread may provide some tips for everyone to make use of, as well as give those new to wildlife photography a good idea about the balance between settings in the field and settings on the computer.

To start off, please list your most frequently-used equipment. For example, if you have two telezooms or a telezoom and a prime, which one do you use the most? Or if you have a prime and a teleconverter, do you couple them more frequently than you use the prime alone? If you have more than one body, which is your primary?

Second, what time of day do you most often get out to shoot? Early morning? Evening? Mid-day?

Third, if you'd be willing to share, what are your most frequently-used settings on your camera? Autofocus? Manual focus? Aperture priority? Manual? Shutter priority? Continuous focus? Large apertures? Continuous shooting? What about exposure? White balance? Do you shoot RAW, RAW + jpeg, jpeg?

Fourth, and most importantly in relation to this thread, what do you do with the pics when you get them home? Tweak your jpeg images? Convert RAW images? How much PP goes on, and in what form? (e.g. "I convert my RAW images with ____________ and then pull them into Photoshop/Lightroom/NX/GIMP/Elements/etc. and adjust___________ and _____________ to get my final image").

Lastly, is your monitor calibrated? Using what program?

I know this post has been long, but I really hope we get a lot of good responses from EVERYONE that frequents this part of the forum. We have a lot of "regulars" here and it would be great to hear from all of them. If everyone chips in, we all might learn something/pick up some new techniques/get hold of a few new ideas to try out.


Nikon D300 / 35mm f1.8 / 300mm f4 / TC-14E II
Pentax K200D / DA 18-55mm / DA 55-300mm

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 5:24 pm 
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Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 12:48 pm
Posts: 8087
Location: UK
Current main kit: Canon 7D with 15-85 and 100-400 lenses. For most wildlife I'm on the 100-400 as they tend to be small and far away.

Time of day, typically varies from mid-morning through to sundown.

Basic setting is shutter priority, target 1/1000s and I go home if it gets much below 1/500s. Auto-ISO. Metering depends on my mood at the time, but typically center or spot. Continuous focus, all points or center spot only depending on what I'm doing. AWB and jpeg only. Exposure depends on the subject. I might go up to -2 on white subjects (swans, gulls), and +1 on black subjects (crows). If in doubt, underexpose. It's easy to recover shadows and impossible on blown highlights.

PP varies with need. Levels, shadow/highlight, brightness/contrast, saturation all tweak as needed. Noise reduce if necessary, typically at higher ISO or if there is significant shadow recovery. Resize and sharpen for output. Yes, all that starting with camera jpeg. I've tried raw and it doesn't offer anything extra for the additional cost of storage and burst limit it imposes. Main software is Picasa as a browser, Elements 7 for editing with Neat Image plugin for noise reduction. Occasionally use Paint Shop Pro 7 for a few features in that not present in Elements.

My monitor has been calibrated by Spyder 3, but I have colour management disabled on all software.

Canon DSLRs: 7D2, 7D1, 5D2, 1D, 600D, 450D full spectrum, 300D IR mod
Lenses: EF 35/2, 85/1.8, 135/2+SF, 70-300L, 100-400L, 100L, MP-E 65, EF-S 10-18, 15-85
3rd party: Zeiss 2/50 makro, Samyang 8mm fisheye, Sigma 50/1.4A, 150 macro, 120-300 f/2.8 OS
Compacts: Sony HX9V, Fuji X100.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 7:53 pm 

Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 5:06 am
Posts: 1977
Right now for me I keep my 100-400 on the 7D and my 24-105 on the 50D. I use the 7D 90% of the time and the 50D for a quick landscape or if something is too close. I also plan on using the 50D with my 100mm macro when I take macros in the wild. I still dont know what to expect from my whale trip in 2 weeks but my whale experiences in the past have left me wanting a quick change to a shorter lens for really close shots. Also... last year in NL I seen first hand how handy a second body is for not only speed but also for not having to change lenses in rain/dusty conditions or any other situation which makes the operation awkward which in nature is more often than not.

When at home for day outings my time of day is almost always mornings leaving home at 7am or so... the better the day the longer I stay out sometimes til 4pm. My best stuff and best animal encounters seem to take place between 7am and 10am. That being said I know urban wildlife is more active throughout the day but it is not something I personally focus on. Cloudy days are good as well... when the wind pics up above 25km per hr like yesterday animals seem to settle down and you dont see too much action. I really wanna try some more rainy day shooting this summer as it adds an amtmosphere I like to pics. That being said on trips or eco-tours I shoot from sun-up to sun-down.. basically 24/7

I do a lot of aperature priority because we always seem to have sun here for the most part... early morning/cloudy day combined with moving animals I switch to shutter priority.. I must admit I should do this more often though as I miss quite a few shots on some days. Like popo I am looking for 1000+ shutter speed and if I can get it up closer to 2000 for birds I'm really happy. I shoot jpeg almost exclusively... I get the shots I need and I dont what to spend more time in front of the computer PPing pics than I do shooting them. Although I do like playing with pics on the computer my love comes from being out in the wild with nature. Auto WB 90% of the time... I tend to play a lot with ISO but usually settle between 400 to 800 with 800 being my most used ISO setting... and always on fast continuous shoot even though a lot of the time I just fire one shot at a time. + and - exposure I need to start playing with more as when I do use it its really useful and all too often I get home and wish I would have done it more like the 2 flying crows I posted yesterday.

Calibration is Spyder 3

PP for me is:

Lightroom - depending on what is needed - crop, contrast, exposure, temp, recovery and fill localized if needed, very rarely only I use spot removal to remove spots or objects like street posts or other unwanted manmade stuff if I want the pic to be natural. My processing per pic in lightroom usually takes less than 2 minutes with cropping taking up by far the longest time. I do use other functions in Lightroom as well as needed but those mentioned above are the basics.

Faststone Image Viewer (kpr put me on to this little gem) - for sharpening if needed. It does lots of other things but I only use its sharpening feature.

Neat Image - for noise reduction if needed. For me its the best program out there for this purpose by far.

PP per image rarely takes me more than 3 to 4 minutes.

As most of you know my best shots come when I settle down into a blind for a morning... this has good and bad points for me.. good side is awesome closeups... bad side is its not that great on the back usually, you are stuck in one area, you need to time out the time of day to be there for best light, you need to find a place to put it and if you leave it there a place where it wont be stolen or vandalized and a few other things.

Great ideal for an informational thread Jax....

Canon 7D + 50D + EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM + EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM + EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM
Pelican // Black Rapid // Think Tank // Manfrotto // Garmin

Reflections On Canadian Wildlife
My Flickr

Last edited by Wolfsong on Mon Apr 26, 2010 2:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 26, 2010 2:25 am 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 3:18 am
Posts: 1781
Location: Nova Scotia Canada
PP...almost 100% of the time with Faststone (free download)

Enhance color...lower brightness a bit maybe,up contrast just a bit.
Sharpness 2 maybe but, no more than 4 ever.
Crop.... if needed/wanted.
Add signature/resize and border.

Pentax K200D and a Sigma 50-500mm the majority of the time,coupled with a shooting stick/mono-pod.
More often than not freehand.

Sunup til about noon depending on the critters of course,then about 2hrs before sundown.
The morning produces best for me.

The majority of my shooting is in Jpeg for speed and space consumption.
IF I am in a spot or situation I think I can/should switch to RAW I will.
I use my Pentax program for them and might adjust them first but mostly for posting on the net will simply extract a Jpeg and adjust that with Faststone and post then dump it and keep the out of the cam RAW and migrate it to the external hard drive.
I usually save a few up first and then view them again before transfer and dump a few more first.

I have Elements and have been playing with it but I find it frustrating and wayyy too complicated for me.
Too much fiddle :roll:
Some day....when I can no longer get out as much as I like anymore and I find myself with enough time to sit and pick at them I might take a course on photoshop or something.
Heres a small sample of my technical/computer abilities for you....

"Calibrated monitor"....

You mean it isn't calibrated when you buy it?
Calibrated to what/why?

Ok maybe thats a whole differant thread :lol:

Pentax K-5
Pentax 18-55mm,Pentax 50-200mm,Sigma 17-70mm,Sigma 70-300mm, Sigma 50-500mm

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 26, 2010 4:56 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 18, 2009 5:23 pm
Posts: 832
Location: Boca Raton, FL, USA
Thank you - appreciate the compliments and to be included with a fine group of photographers.

My primary equipment for wildlife shooting would be my Tamron 200-500mm serves for nearly 98% of all wildlife shooting. Overall photography, when not including wildlife, the Tamron 200-500 still probably ranks in top-2 for use, since wildlife photography takes up a significant portion of my shooting, but my Sony 18-250mm serves as a vacation and walkaround lens, then my Sigma 30mm F1.4 for night and low light use, Tamron 90mm F2.8 for macro and flower/bug shooting, and Tamron 10-24mm ultrawide for architecture/landscape/fun, Minolta 50mm F1.7 for closer low light work...those all probably split somewhat evenly for the rest of the time. Only one body currently, my A550.

I'm primarily a mid-day to evening shooter. I can only shoot on weekends, and I just can't bring myself to blow my sleep-in privileges, so I usually don't get out earlier than noon or so. Because mid-day sun in Florida can be quite harsh, I often extend my shooting to sunset, so I can enjoy a little golden light late afternoon.

Camera settings: I probably vary most between P (program) and A (aperture priority)...depending on my needs. On occasion I'll use S priority too, but prefer to control the DOF with aperture priority and just watch my shutter speed to make sure it's fast enough. I like to keep apertures F8-11 if I can, but will go wide open when I have to. I almost always shoot with spot focus, and center-weighted metering...I'll occasionally shift to multipoint focus when shooting a bird in flight against a blank sky. I usually set to -1/3 EV, just to protect my highlights in harsh Florida sun. Focus mode is usually AF-S (single focus), as I like to half-press and release as needed to refocus...I'll use AF-C (continuous) when I need the focus tracking for a moving subject that's closing on me. I'm usually in standard burst mode (5fps) all the time - I just press the shutter and release quickly for single shots. That lets me be ready for bursts when needed. Occasionally I'll switch up to high-speed burst (7fps) when I know I'll need it - as long as the subject is staying in place or moving across the frame to me, since this mode locks focus on the first frame. ISO is usually set manually - I'll go ISO200 (base ISO) most of the time, moving it up as needed for conditions. I rely on AWB most of the time, as it seems to work well enough. I'm primarily a jpeg shooter - I'm not real keen on post processing unless I have to, and try as hard as I can to not have to! I have used RAW on occasion when I'm shooting for a professional hire or one-time-only opportunity, where the ability to correct large errors may be needed. Otherwise, jpeg serves me well 95% of the time.

I'm very much a load and view guy - again, not big on post processing. I just don't enjoy the process nearly as much as taking the photos. I'll do minor tweaks if needed, or corrections, but most of the time, the photos are straight from camera as far as color, contrast, saturation, etc. My main editor is Paint Shop Pro 8...a very old edition which does everything I need. When shooting very high ISO, I'll use either Topaz Denoise or Helicon folder (both plug-ins) to reduce noise. I do crop some photos as needed - to bring a subject closer, or occasionally to improve the composition.

My only real editing process with my pics is once I've decided which ones I want to upload online and display - for those, I'll resize to 1024 pixels long, and give them a touch of USM (unsharp mask) to restore sharpness lost in the resize.

I use a Dell ultrasharp 20" LCD and a Dell ultrasharp 24" LCD, both calibrated with a Colorvision Spyder (they are now being sold under a different company name then when I bought mine).

Justin Miller
Sony DSLR-A68 / Sony 18-250mm / Minolta 50mm F1.7 / Tamron 150-600mm / Minolta 300mm F4 APO
Sony A6300 / 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 / 55-210mm F4-6.3 / 10-18mm F4 / 35mm F1.8 / 16mm F2.8 / FE70-200mm F4 G OSS / FE70-300mm F4.5-5.6 G OSS / via manual adapter, lots of Pentax K mount, Konica K/AR mount, and Leica M mount manual lenses


 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 26, 2010 9:48 pm 
Canon Rebel XSI with 400mm f 5.6 prime most of the time.
I shoot mostly in RAW because I still make big mistakes :lol: and that allows the most leeway in terms of exposure and white balance. Camera is set to AV, center focus and spot metering most of the time. I usually don’t do bursts.
I set the camera to continuous focus focus using my thumb on the exposure lock button then the shutter half press is used as the exposure lock. This way I can focus continuous or one shot as the situation dictates.
I use f7.1 or f8 and ISO 400 as a walk around setting a lot. When the light gets low I go up in ISO 800 first before going to F5.6. As far as time of day goes, whenever I can get out but I prefer before 11 AM and the last few hours before sunset.
I convert to jpeg with the software that came with the camera, mostly just cropping and brightness maybe white balance and contrast and a bit of sharpening. Before posting I use FastStone to generate a text and date stamp and compress the files a bit more.
My monitor has never been calibrated, its one of the older ones that needs to be viewed straight on but it probably won’t be replaced until absolutely necessary.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 1:02 am 

Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 1:01 pm
Posts: 660
Location: Ontario, Canada
Nikon D90 along with my 80-400mm. Handheld 100% of the time with an R-7 BlackRapid strap.

Time of day- I'm on location just before sunrise for a quick walk around to see what's around. Normally shoot till 1pm or longer depending on what's going on.

I mainly shoot in Aperture Priority 95% of the time and Manual 5%. I like to keep it around f7.1 to f8 adjusting ISO accordingly.
In M mode I'll set the apereture and shutter speed and turn on auto iso
I always use auto focus and continous focus with continous shooting mode.
White balance- On sunny days I tend to keep it on auto unless a certain shot comes up which I would like looking a litlle warmer then I switch to cloudy.
On cloudy/overcast days I do change it to the cloudy setting. I find the auto setting a little to cool on auto for an overcast day.

Metering- I use spot for static (in trees or water) birds and centre for bif.

As for exposure, that can can get complicated, see below.

The below tips are for spot metering technique:

For a mid tone bird meter the bird and use that exposure.
For large white birds (egrets, swans) meter the white part and use+1 1/3 stop
For lighter white birds, meter the bird and use +2/3 stop.
For dark birds (black birds, crows), meter the bird use -1 or -1 1/3 stop

The below tips are for Center-Weighted technique:

For a mid toned subject with a mid toned background, shoot as per the meter reading.
For a dark subject with a mid toned background use +1/2 or +2/3 stop.
For a dark subject with a light background use +1 or + 1 1/3 stop
For a dark subject with a fairly dark background use -1/3 or -1/2 stop
For a light/white subject with a light background use + 2/3 or +1 stop
For a light/white subject with a medium tone background, shoot as per the meter reading
For a light/white subject with dark background use -1/3 or -1/2 stop

I shoot Raw+jpeg.

PP- I use Raw Therapee (free), all steps are as needed, (whitebalance then exposure, colour saturation, blacks level, adjust shadows and highlights, contrast, unsharp mask, crop) Convert to Jpeg.

Monitor is not calibrated.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 9:00 pm 
Great thread idea jaxzwolf. Thanks to everyone who shared information, I have a few different things to try the next time I get out.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Apr 29, 2010 1:28 am 

Joined: Sat Sep 12, 2009 2:03 am
Posts: 1496
Location: Gold Coast Australia
One of the most informative threads I'v read, great work guys.


Nikon D7000, Nikkor 80 - 400G, Nikkor 18- 200 VR II, f3.5-5.6.

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