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 Post subject: my first shots
PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 10:42 am 
hi guys just joined the forum and would like to share a few of my first shots taken on my new and first dslr. some pictures of birds in my back garden taken at 300mm from inside my house. i think they came out pretty well but im keen to learn so all comments and criticism welcome if it helps me advance my skills.
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:44 am 
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Joined: Tue Jul 27, 2010 8:57 am
Posts: 1551
Location: Winterpeg, Manisnowba, Canada
Hello James, and welcome to the friendly Cameralabs forum! Be sure to read our Forum Rules, so that we can keep Cameralabs a safe community!

Your pictures look very nice, especially the first one. I think that the bird covers a fair amount of the frame, and the snow covered berries give it some colour and interest. If I had any complaints, it would probably be the focus. On all of then, the focus seems a tad bit off, I personally think that the birds could be sharper. I also think that number three may lack some interest, the bird seems too dead centre and head on for my liking.

Overall, great job! Keep it up!

-Evan

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-Evan

Gear: 7 Nikon Nikkor AI-S and AF-S lenses, SB-700 flash, Nikon D7000, Nikon FM, variety of accessories

"There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs."
- Ansel Adams


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2010 10:14 am 
thanks evan i had thought that myself about the focus. thatnks for the advice. I was using auto focus ad i was behind a window at the time.

cheers
james


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2010 8:12 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 7:27 pm
Posts: 89
Location: Wales
Hello James

I agree with the comments from Evan

The focus does look a little off, possibly due to shooting through glass but possibly the glass will also have affected image quality.

There are so many facttors that need to come together for a 'sharp' shot of a small garden bird it's confusing at first. I find that shutter speed and focus are key so use you apeture and iso well and it will come good.

Here are a few of my tips, not that I am any great expert.

1. With fast moving subjects such as these it pays to switch to manual focus and pre focus on the area at which the bird is likely to be, that way your af system is not thrown by the moving object - it works but sometimes af is better - practice is best :D

2. Practice with different iso/ and apeture settings in av to achieve the required shutter speed - I find that 1/125 second will work but 1/250 upwards is far better.

3. Watch the behaviour of the birds, some will have a preferred perch on which they land to make sure the feeder is safe and then move to the feeder - if you can spot this you get a moment without motion whilst they take a look and often a more natural shot as the bird will be on a branch and not a feeder etc.

The above is far from definitive but at least it's a start.

Cheers


Stu

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2010 8:43 pm 
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Joined: Wed Nov 18, 2009 5:23 pm
Posts: 820
Location: Boca Raton, FL, USA
Congrats on the DSLR, and welcome to the forums. Certainly birding can become quite addictive, and starting off is always fun but with a lot of things to learn. Most of us have been there, so no worries...you are receptive to input and critique, which is the key to learning and getting better.

I see you are shooting with a Sony A390...you mentioned 300mm, but what lens in particular are you using? In general, a zoom lens which extends to 300mm, especially if it's a fairly basic inexpensive zoom lens, will struggle a bit with softness, too small an aperture in lower light, and sometimes chromic abberations when used at full zoom extension. It can get you by in a pinch, but certainly if you think birding will become more of a hobby, you might start looking for slightly better and faster lenses for the job.

Without knowing your EXIF data, it's hard to tell - I'd say the glass window you were shooting through likely had some impact on sharpness and contrast...it usually does. Whenever possible, shoot with as little glass as possible between you and the subject - which includes windows, filters, etc. Also, it seems like you have slight motion blur, either by you or the birds, in almost all the shots - which tells me the shutter speed was likely just a bit too slow for the subject matter. In general, smaller birds are going to require shutter speeds of 1/250 or better most of the time, especially with a longer lens, to remain sharper and free of blur. Your camera has stabilization in the body (make sure it is turned on!!)...you should have a shake indicator in the viewfinder that lets you know when you are moving around - try to glance at that as you are ready to shoot - attempt to only shoot when the shake meter is on the first two bars or so - anytime it's maxed out at the 3-4 bar area, you may be moving too much for the IS system to counter you.

Light is a big factor - looks like you had some overcast while shooting. You can get by in this weather, but sometimes have to raise the ISO a bit to compensate. If you were shooting at ISO100/200, then try moving up to ISO400 or 800...you'll get some more noise/graininess in the shot, which can be removed or reduced in post processing, but you also will get better shutter speeds and less blur. You could try Auto ISO - though sometimes your camera may try to go higher than you really want.

If you aren't already, always half-press your shutter to lock and hold focus before shooting - I find using Autofocus Single mode to be best, as it will focus one time and fix, until I release half-press and ask it to focus again. AF Continuous can help with tracking a moving subject, but with a still subject, any minor movements by you can cause the focus to grab something else and refocus there before you take the shot. Stick with spot focus if you need to pinpoint just what to focus on, and use the half-press shutter with single focus mode to hold the focus only where you want it. Then, when you fully press the shutter to take the shot, there is no delay or lag - it snaps immediately.

When using spot meter, always try to put the focus crosshair on the birds' eyes - that keeps the proper focus area where it most needs to be. When shooting birds, don't be afraid to take a few shots...either using burst mode or by pressign the shutter a few additional times. Birds are so skittish and move about so often, that taking 3 or 4 shots lets you pick the best of the 4 instead of hoping you got it in 1...even if you do everything right, your 1 shot may be the one in which the bird blinked or turned it's head...taking 3 or 4 means one of them will likely get everything lined up.

Hope that helps a little!

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Justin Miller
Sony DSLR-A580 / Sony 18-250mm / Minolta 50mm F1.7 / Sigma 30mm F1.4 / Tamron 10-24mm / Tamron 150-600mm / Tamron 90mm F2.8 macro / Minolta 300mm F4 APO
Sony A6000 / 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 / 55-210mm F4-6.3 / 10-18mm F4 / 35mm F1.8 / 16mm F2.8 / via manual adapter, lots of Pentax K mount, Konica K/AR mount, and Leica M mount manual lenses

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