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Thread: Another potential prizewinning photo messed up!

  1. #1

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    Another potential prizewinning photo messed up!

    Yes, I know it is something which most of us do occasionally; and more often for some of us.

    I was walking along one of the old cross country paths which once linked farms and hamlets together when I discovered a pheasant on a stile.

    Carefully moving around and closer (but without any cover) I got close enough for some shots with the 24-105 lens which was on the camera and large enough for the overall scene.

    Av setting at F8 was producing shutter speeds around 1/500 to 1/800 at ISO 400 which was plenty fast enough to cope with any slight movement from the bird.

    Suddenly, the bird flapped it's wings and rose vertically. When it was beside the Public Footpath sign with wings outstretched and facing towards me, I clicked the shutter.

    And of course, by then Evaluative Metering auto selected 1/200 which was far too slow; so the bird was hopelessly blurred.

    I should have reset to Tv once I had taken the first shot because it was inevitable that sooner or later the bird would take decisive action.

    Here is the previous shot.

    Another potential prizewinning photo messed up!

    'I said the path was for peasants not pheasants'!

  2. #2
    Goldcoastgolfer's Avatar
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    Re: Another potential prizewinning photo messed up!

    That was happening with me when I took photographs of kids who were standing still one minute and running around the next so I've resigned myself to shooting in full manual so i get into the habit of paying attention to my settings all the time. Still make more mistakes than I care to though.

  3. #3

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    Re: Another potential prizewinning photo messed up!

    This sort of thing has happened to me countless times.

    Nowadays in the open my settings are always M, 1/1250, 5.6 or f8. The only thing I will adjust is ISO depending on the light but usually will start with 200. I just wish cameras had a function button with a preset like that. Of course there is sports mode but have never tried that.

  4. #4

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    Re: Another potential prizewinning photo messed up!

    Quote Originally Posted by Bobobird View Post
    I just wish cameras had a function button with a preset like that.
    Some of them do. Pentax has a TAv mode, where you set aperture and shutter, and camera picks an ISO for you. It's very-very nice.

  5. #5

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    Re: Another potential prizewinning photo messed up!

    My Canon 7D has auto ISO so I can use manual settings for aperture and shutter then leave the ISO to find it's own level.

    The danger with this though is that it is very easy to accidentally end up with very high ISO when I would be willing to reset one of the other options instead.

    But in this particular case, I was more concerned about keeping my profile low and sneaking closer while trying to find a good composition angle. And I really needed F8 to give sufficient depth as my angle changed.

    The problem was that I was getting a 'false reading' from those pieces of pale wood which were in better light. When I moved my view upward to include the dark background sky I got a completely different reading, but no 'thinking time'.

    I had been carefully watching my current settings, which were giving sufficient readings. But all of those concerns overrode any thoughts about birds flying. Just too many things for my ancient little brain to consider at once.

  6. #6
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Another potential prizewinning photo messed up!

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    The problem was that I was getting a 'false reading' from those pieces of pale wood which were in better light. When I moved my view upward to include the dark background sky I got a completely different reading, but no 'thinking time'.

    I had been carefully watching my current settings, which were giving sufficient readings. But all of those concerns overrode any thoughts about birds flying. Just too many things for my ancient little brain to consider at once.
    Hi Geoff,

    I can sympathise as (of course) I have been caught like this too.

    Reading this, I was just wondering whether AE lock is of help? However, exactly how this works (and how usefuls it is) may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

    The ideal might be a mode dial that instead of ordered 'PASM' (or P, Av, Tv, M) had the A/Av and S/Tv either side of M, so you could turn it one notch either way and get to M without changing the settings, or go beyond M to Tv, again with same settings.

    To my mind, if you have say metered for the bird and determined a correct exposure for it, you could AE lock, or transfer those settings to M, then continue shooting, knowing where you are, but there are a couple of caveats; it won't work if the bird flies from shadow to sunlit/ more lit spaces, and in certain circumstances (not this time apparently), there's a risk of the sky blowing out as it moves up in front of that.

    So it is valid on overcast days for birds in the open, but less useful when the fly from under trees, especially on sunny days
    If the bird can be held large enough in the viewfinder, spot metering can be better than evaluative/average/centre weighted. However, the black and white ones are a pain as it depends too much which bit is under the spot, for them average, or M is better.

    Unfortunately, there is no magic panacea, only experience helps to increase your chances of 'luck' paying off.

    It's still quite a pleasant shot, although I'd be tempted to rotate anti-clockwise a little.

    Cheers,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 13th December 2011 at 08:39 AM.

  7. #7

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    Re: Another potential prizewinning photo messed up!

    As I said previously, Dave, it should have been obvious to me that the bird was going to move in one direction or another so it would have been better to play safe and switch to Tv once I had taken a couple of general scene shots.

    But I was in 'stalking mode' and concentrating more on trying to avoid alarming the bird than thinking ahead photographically. It is the closest I have been to a wild pheasant for some time.

    And with regard to rotation. I have already had two attempts at this by working with the vertical post; which is warped. Probably, the horizontal top style rail needs to be exactly level which will leave the post slightly tilted. Or needing a bit of skew crop to correct.

    It's surprising how sometimes the verticals need to be correct while other times the horizontal elements are more noticeable.

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