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Thread: Gull IF

  1. #1
    DouglasRC's Avatar
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    Gull IF

    The most interesting part about this photo was the conditions Ė a major storm with 100 KM wind and lots of spray from the crashing waves. The gulls didnít seem bothered by this at all, but they were difficult to shoot given the wind and nothing I could brace against (also hand-held too). I doubt that this is a keeper but it was good practice. I have cropped quite a bit and am wondering about how much I should have cropped (full size is included). I havenít had much luck with birds IF, so any and all advice much appreciated.

    Canon 60D with 70-200 mm f2.8 mkII; focal length 123mm, 1/1600, f.28, ISO 100.
    Cheers,
    Doug

    Gull IF

    Gull IF

  2. #2

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    Re: Gull IF

    Great shots considering the wind you had to contend with.

    I dont understand why you did not go the full 200mm ?

  3. #3
    DouglasRC's Avatar
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    Re: Gull IF

    Hi Bobo. They were moving so fast I couldn't track the at 200mm; possibly a lack of technique on my part but a wider shot seemed the only way to do it.
    Cheers,
    Doug

  4. #4
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    Re: Gull IF

    Well you caught him nice and sharp. You will get the tracking down pretty quick, keep at it!

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Gull IF

    Hi Doug,

    I would do about that much crop for this size image.

    It has been sharpened with too wide a radius though and there are obvious halo artefacts in the cropped version.

    I would also artistically place the pair slightly lower and further to the left within the same crop size.


    When they are quite close, they can be a nightmare to track, even on a normal day, especially if jigging to get to food.

    If you can shoot them with the wind from behind you, they will be approaching you at a slower ground speed and possibly gliding more.

    Cheers,

  6. #6
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    Re: Gull IF

    Hi Doug,

    Nice photo. It is hard to capture a BIF so you did well. I always encourage myself by stating that for every great photo that you see there are probably hundreds taken on the same day that the same photographer threw away.

    Here are some tips that may be useful for shooting the same scene again:

    Use AI focus and shoot in bursts of 3 shots. You will find that one of the three is usually better than the others for focus. You can easily throw away duplicates but you cannot retake the photos because the moment is gone.

    This leads on to the tip to take lots of photos. This is the advantage of digital. It costs very little to see how they come out.

    For panning shots use the IS mode 2. This stabilises shake only in the direction perpendicular to the panning movement of your lens. For BIF shots this is a must.

    If you are facing the same general direction then switch to manual mode for metering. Meter off the sky at about +1 2/3 and get the shutter speed up to 1/1000. This needs to be higher for smaller faster birds but can go down to 1/750 for big eagles etc. This will help avoid exposure problems as the bird moves around in your frame and the camera sees more or less of the darker scene below the horizon. You are only interested in the bird and so ensure your exposure is correct for that by setting it as such. On a 60D you can easily push to ISO 800 and get consistently good images. Above that you will need to do some noise reduction work. But I try to keep ISO as low as possible low and constantly watch my shutter speed for the light conditions. In your shot you had a low ISO of 100 and a fast shutter but it is underexposed. ISO 200 would have still kept the shutter at 1/1000 but would have been a better exposure.

    If you are spinning around relative to the sun then exposure will vary too much for manual. Then you should use Tv mode to keep the shutter high.

    With your lens you can shoot wide open all day long. I would do this until the bird fills 20% of the short edge of the frame. Then you need to start stopping down. If the bird fills 80% of the frame you should use f8. Maybe higher if really close to the bird. This is less relevant for BIF shots where the bird will probably be very small in the centre of the frame. So wide open (as you have done) is good.

    Try and track the bird smoothly in the centre point. You can crop to recompose later. For your example I like the crop picture you posted but would take about 20% off the top and left edges to picture the bird flying into the frame.

    Keep practising and sharing your work.

    Alex

  7. #7
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Gull IF

    I love gulls (and pelicans too - in my area) because they are usually so plentiful and don't have the instinctive fear of humans which some other bird species exhibit. They are wonderful birds to practice BIF techniques. They also usually have well defined flight patterns and are not changing direction all over the sky...

    Douglas, you mention, "They were moving so fast I couldn't track the at 200mm". I don't usually have a problem picking up even a fast moving subject or tracking it using a relatively short tele-zoom lens like a 200mm. If I do have problems picking up the subject, I can always zoom to a wider focal length and pick up the subject; then zoom in again.

    I am wondering if you were using the LCD viewfinder or the eye level viewfinder of your 60D. If you were using the LCD to frame your shot, I can see where you might have problems in picking up. framing and following the birds. The problem would be intensified when the day was very grey with little definition between the birds and the sky.

    I have a Devil of a time trying to track a moving subject with an LCD viewfinder...

    When I shoot with my 70-200mm f/4L IS lens using the eye level viewfinder, the camera is almost "automatically" pointed where my eye is looking. The pickup/follow problem is a little bit harder when using a long prime like my 400mm f/5.6L, however. once I pick up my target, it is easy to follow using the eye level viewfinder. Here is an example of a fast moving target (granted this is a larger target - but it was moving at a far faster speed than most BIF) which I followed using my 400mm f/5.6L lens.

    Gull IF

    When I am using the 400mm lens, I sometimes have a slight problem with the initial pick up of a very small subject, especially against a generally neutral background like the sky. I have a neat sportsfinder which allows me to pick up and follow a fast moving, small subject. The sportsfinder is shown with the camera wearing a 70-200mm lens. I don't usually need it for a lens this short.

    Gull IF

    In the days of press cameras and twin lens reflex cameras, sportsfinders were a very common way to follow action.

    I normally use this finder only when I am shooting on a tripod or monopod (or some other mount), because hand-holding with the camera extended away from my face is not the most efficient way to get a sharp shot...
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 20th February 2012 at 02:17 PM.

  8. #8
    DouglasRC's Avatar
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    Re: Gull IF

    Thanks Dave. Good advice. I certainly need to be more careful sharpening as my tendency is to overdo it. Placing the pair as you suggest is a good idea too – another thing I need to work on rather than centering all the time. I have noticed that it is more difficult tracking when the subject is too close, although I have one shot of a heron I quite like even though I didn’t get the entire bird in the frame. Excellent point about the wind direction – I never thought of that.

    I have been copying and pasting all the replies into a Word doc so that I can make notes and absorb all this great advice better.
    Cheers,
    Doug

  9. #9
    DouglasRC's Avatar
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    Re: Gull IF

    Quote Originally Posted by herbert View Post
    Hi Doug,

    Nice photo. It is hard to capture a BIF so you did well. I always encourage myself by stating that for every great photo that you see there are probably hundreds taken on the same day that the same photographer threw away.

    Thanks, I was lucky and was having fun with my new lens despite the storm or maybe because of the storm!

    Here are some tips that may be useful for shooting the same scene again:

    Use AI focus and shoot in bursts of 3 shots. You will find that one of the three is usually better than the others for focus. You can easily throw away duplicates but you cannot retake the photos because the moment is gone.

    Good point – I haven’t been shooting in bursts nearly enough.

    This leads on to the tip to take lots of photos. This is the advantage of digital. It costs very little to see how they come out.

    For panning shots use the IS mode 2. This stabilises shake only in the direction perpendicular to the panning movement of your lens. For BIF shots this is a must.

    I normally use mode 2, but sometimes forget to set it when I’ve been shooting still subjects with mode 1.
    If you are facing the same general direction then switch to manual mode for metering. Meter off the sky at about +1 2/3 and get the shutter speed up to 1/1000. This needs to be higher for smaller faster birds but can go down to 1/750 for big eagles etc. This will help avoid exposure problems as the bird moves around in your frame and the camera sees more or less of the darker scene below the horizon. You are only interested in the bird and so ensure your exposure is correct for that by setting it as such. On a 60D you can easily push to ISO 800 and get consistently good images. Above that you will need to do some noise reduction work. But I try to keep ISO as low as possible low and constantly watch my shutter speed for the light conditions. In your shot you had a low ISO of 100 and a fast shutter but it is underexposed. ISO 200 would have still kept the shutter at 1/1000 but would have been a better exposure.

    Thanks for this. I was puzzled a bit thinking my settings were adequate (f2.8, 1/1600, ISO 100), but the numbers don’t always mean a good shot. I’ll need to work on this.

    If you are spinning around relative to the sun then exposure will vary too much for manual. Then you should use Tv mode to keep the shutter high.

    Good point. This often happens when birds are moving around a lot and not staying on one path so to speak. I’ll practice using Tv in these circumstances and see how I do.


    With your lens you can shoot wide open all day long. I would do this until the bird fills 20% of the short edge of the frame. Then you need to start stopping down. If the bird fills 80% of the frame you should use f8. Maybe higher if really close to the bird. This is less relevant for BIF shots where the bird will probably be very small in the centre of the frame. So wide open (as you have done) is good.

    Excellent advice. I hadn’t thought of stopping down after the subject fills 20% of the frame. I’ll try this at the next opportunity!
    Try and track the bird smoothly in the centre point. You can crop to recompose later. For your example I like the crop picture you posted but would take about 20% off the top and left edges to picture the bird flying into the frame.

    Another good point – I need to experiment more with cropping and not always centre the subject.
    Keep practising and sharing your work.

    Thanks very much. I appreciate all the time and effort you have put in to help me.
    Cheers,
    Doug



    Alex

  10. #10
    DouglasRC's Avatar
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    Re: Gull IF

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    I love gulls (and pelicans too - in my area) because they are usually so plentiful and don't have the instinctive fear of humans which some other bird species exhibit. They are wonderful birds to practice BIF techniques. They also usually have well defined flight patterns and are not changing direction all over the sky...
    Yes, this is what Iíve found too as there are gulls everywhere here. Much easier to shoot than hawks for example, or other birds moving fast and changing directions quickly.

    Douglas, you mention, "They were moving so fast I couldn't track the at 200mm". I don't usually have a problem picking up even a fast moving subject or tracking it using a relatively short tele-zoom lens like a 200mm. If I do have problems picking up the subject, I can always zoom to a wider focal length and pick up the subject; then zoom in again.
    Good advice. I should have persevered with the 200 mm even though I was being buffeted about by the wind more than the gull was.

    I am wondering if you were using the LCD viewfinder or the eye level viewfinder of your 60D. If you were using the LCD to frame your shot, I can see where you might have problems in picking up. framing and following the birds. The problem would be intensified when the day was very grey with little definition between the birds and the sky.
    The only time I use the LCD is for live shooting on a tripod with a still subject. But it is fun to use the LCD handheld (and liveview) just to see how shaky my handheld technique is.

    I have a Devil of a time trying to track a moving subject with an LCD viewfinder...

    When I shoot with my 70-200mm f/4L IS lens using the eye level viewfinder, the camera is almost "automatically" pointed where my eye is looking. The pickup/follow problem is a little bit harder when using a long prime like my 400mm f/5.6L, however. once I pick up my target, it is easy to follow using the eye level viewfinder. Here is an example of a fast moving target (granted this is a larger target - but it was moving at a far faster speed than most BIF) which I followed using my 400mm f/5.6L lens.

    Gull IF

    Awesome shot!

    When I am using the 400mm lens, I sometimes have a slight problem with the initial pick up of a very small subject, especially against a generally neutral background like the sky. I have a neat sportsfinder which allows me to pick up and follow a fast moving, small subject. The sportsfinder is shown with the camera wearing a 70-200mm lens. I don't usually need it for a lens this short.

    Gull IF

    In the days of press cameras and twin lens reflex cameras, sportsfinders were a very common way to follow action.

    I normally use this finder only when I am shooting on a tripod or monopod (or some other mount), because hand-holding with the camera extended away from my face is not the most efficient way to get a sharp shot...

    Good point. Iíve never heard of the sportsfinder before, but I will look into it Ė it sounds like a good idea for my 100-400mm.

    I appreciate your advice very much. I have no doubt it will help me improve my photos significantly.
    Cheers,
    Doug

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