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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 1:04 pm 
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Location: Kuching, Malaysia
I seldom have the chance to shoot birds but my interest have been sparked recently. However i really have no idea how to properly do this especially with a really bright background ( the sky). I know underexposing is an option but every different setting would require a different exposure set up which requires time wasted which might result in a missed shot. My question is how would you guys tackle this problem. Here is an example of what i mean. Not the best picture but illustrates the point.

Image

The bird has no detail what so ever. Some was recovered with photoshop. Also some tips of how to make such a conversion using RAW files would be appreciated as i failed badly when trying to edit such changes with raw.....

Image

These were shot with my new sigma 70-300, i've posted some extra images if any1 is interested over here http://www.cameralabs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=6666

Thanks for any help given.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 2:27 pm 
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Flash?

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 2:31 pm 
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I think it's a bit too far for flash..... this one was i think probably close to 50metres or more away from me and quite up high in the tree...... not sure if using flash would work.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 7:48 pm 
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It's just the in-camera metering that's doing the problem for you.

Due to the amount of light from the background and it's dominance, the camera is metering to get that in perfect exposure.

Here is what I recommend:

1) Get as CLOSE as possible to the subject.
2) Bracket your exposure.

I think you should definitely start to bracket the shots you take. Go from 0, +0.3, +0.7, +1, etc'...


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 8:31 pm 
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Have you tried spot metering? It only meters through the focus point you're using, eg. point it on the bird and it only meters for the bird and not the very bright sky.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 10:37 pm 
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Thanks for the replies guys,
Sdrummer: yea the distance is sort of the problem and exposure settings seem like the best way arnd it.

2610ksj: I tried with the spot metering but the subject was just too tiny and my shaky hands at 300mm din help at all lol.....

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 8:02 am 
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A flash like the SB-600 or SB-800 should be able to reach at full zoom and a high ISO although 50m may be pushing it a little. You could get one of those zoom attachments for the flash.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 8:57 am 
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Hey Grahamnp, yea i'll probably borrow my friends flash once i go back home. Worth a try. Which reminds me i've got one week left in Perth and i haven't really gotten any good photos of the place >.<

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 9:10 am 
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2610ksj wrote:
Have you tried spot metering?


Yeah that is the only thing that is going to work for you there, if you want to get the bird correctly exposed. Another things is that i notices that these photos your not shooting with the sun so to speak. If you want the birds to be lit up well you should have the sun in your back this will make sure the birds don't look like they do in these photos.

Depending on the outdoor conditions that your going to shoot in the spot metering might cause you to get a very overexposed sky (you would probably have gotten it if you spot metered the images above) because then your camera would want to use a slower shutter speed = more light = intense sky = overexposed.

I have written an article on metering if your interested. Link here

What mode are you shooting in? Get to know your modedial here

Some tips on exposure here

Along with with understanding your histograms here

Read those and you should get of on the right foot for some nice bird shots

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 10:47 am 
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how about Auto exposure lock feature of your camera. here is a link that might help. http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=PaOUzWK1R_M

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 6:31 pm 
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I still would recommend fill flash over AEB. Flash will work as long as you have a snoot. Full power in manual and then set it to the longest zoom on the flashgun. The snoot will concentrate the light so that it can cover a further distance.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 7:34 am 
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Snooting will def concentrate the light. How far do you think it will actually reach Ed?

I guess it can be pretty hard to snoot the flash to the correct position. But another option is placing one of those food beds if you will for birds line up ur flash next to it (using it externally so to speak) and back up and take the shots, the fire should get be close enough so you don't have to use full power.

Actually i think that idea might be the best one.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 10:20 am 
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The distance will depend on the power of the flashgun and the length of the snoot. 50m shouldn't be a problem though.

Melvin87 - would you mind if I use and edit your image to run you through on how to reclaim the lost shadow detail?

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2008 7:22 am 
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Hey guys, sorry for the slow reply. Just got back home so have been really busy and sort of exhausted for the first few days.

Thanks for the feed back everyone. Will try them out the next time i have a chance to shoot.

Photoj- yep go ahead. Will be great to see the end result and get tips on how and what you did.

Once again thanks for all the help.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2008 8:50 am 
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2610ksj wrote:
Have you tried spot metering?


That would indeed be the best option. If your hands are too shaky, get yourself a tripod (always useful with a 300mm focal length). A flash just doesn't have enough reach to illuminate your subject good enough. And if the bird is close enough to be illuminated correctly, it might be scared away by the light, so you'd only a few chances to get the shot you're after.

I agree with Alex about the position of the sun. If it's behind you, it will shine light on the bird and the sky will not be as bright.

Of course you can also go into Manual mode and experiment a little.

- Bjorn -

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