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Thread: Pine Squirrel on full auto

  1. #1
    terrib's Avatar
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    Pine Squirrel on full auto

    For a while now, in my wildlife photography, I've been stuck on aperture priority mode using auto focus. The last few weeks, I've been trying to get in the habit of defaulting to manual focus. Not only do I feel I get more accurate focus most of the time, but it seems easier to recompose the shot after focusing. Now the last few days I've been trying to concentrate on going full manual. Today I spent quite a bit of time practicing, setting the aperture and then spinning that shutter speed dial to get the correct exposure.

    This squirrel was running around a tree complaining about my presence. His quick movements really challenged me. I think I managed to get pretty good exposure but I did miss the focus on the second shot (and several more I didn't include)

    I'd love critique on the images and discussion on my approach. Thanks!

    ISO 1600, 5.6, 1/80, 163mm
    Pine Squirrel  on full auto
    _MG_9406 by DreamspunFarm, on Flickr


    ISO 1600, 5.6, 1/80, 163mm
    Pine Squirrel  on full auto
    _MG_9408 by DreamspunFarm, on Flickr

  2. #2

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    Re: Pine Squirrel on full auto

    What you need to determine is whether the shutter speed that your are getting is good enough to shoot the kind of shot you intend to take. For moving wildlife 1/80 is generally too slow unless the subject has no movement at all and you are rock steady. Your 2 pics demonstrates that very well.

    If these are the kind of settings you have to use to get a proper exposure then you may be better off trying again another day. Usually when I am in such a situation my attention will turn to less mobile subjects such as flowers, bugs, scenery etc. Normally it is a "call it a day" signal.

    Manual focus has its uses and if you are able to nail it each time then it is a fantastic way to acquire focus. But if you have stablisation active it will kill the focus faster then you are able to re-focus. In MF I tend to switch off the OS and have only myself to blame if pics are blurred or out of focus.

  3. #3
    terrib's Avatar
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    Re: Pine Squirrel on full auto

    Thank you, Bobo. You are so right. I was using a 55-250 zoom, with aperture set to maximum for the 250 and did not adjust when I zoomed in to 163mm. Then I was concentrating so much on the exposure numbers that I'm ashamed to admit I didn't even realize I was only getting 1/80 until I posted the info on these photos. I was actually shocked the first pic was focused as well as it was when I saw that. That is usually my problem in a lot of my shots. I get tunnel vision in one area and forget the other things I know.

    Your reminder to me to evaluate the situation and maybe move to another subject matter is great. Also, turning off IS never occurred to me. THANK YOU!

  4. #4

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    Re: Pine Squirrel on full auto

    For scenes like this, Tv option is always useful since the movement issue is removed from the 'settings juggle'.

    Fully manual is fine when you have a bit of thinking time.

    With practice, manual focus can be good because, with a bit of skill, you can focus on an area which isn't absolute centre. And without having to gamble on alternative focusing points actually focusing on the intended target or an area which may be well ahead or behind the ideal focus point.

    A lot to concentrate on though, particularly when your subject is moving around.

  5. #5
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Pine Squirrel on full auto

    Quote Originally Posted by terrib View Post
    Thank you, Bobo. You are so right. I was using a 55-250 zoom, with aperture set to maximum for the 250 and did not adjust when I zoomed in to 163mm. Then I was concentrating so much on the exposure numbers that I'm ashamed to admit I didn't even realize I was only getting 1/80 until I posted the info on these photos. I was actually shocked the first pic was focused as well as it was when I saw that. That is usually my problem in a lot of my shots. I get tunnel vision in one area and forget the other things I know.
    Oh Terri,

    If only I had a pound/dollar for everytime I did that, I'd be able to afford a new lens

    I agree with Bobo, 1/80s at 1600 iso means it is just too dark to contemplate shooting squirrels with any expectation of a reasonable 'keeper rate'. especially if your ones are as fast (and twitchy) as our Brit ones!

    I do still shoot AF 99% of the time, using the centre focus point only, so I make the decision where to put it and if it is wrong, it is my fault.

    I do still shoot wildlife in Aperture priority mainly, although I'm thinking of trying manual on occasion more, to avoid the metering changing the exposure unexpectedly due to subject or background tone variations and I can't 'keep up' with EC.

    Personally, I have a fear of Shutter proiority (Tv) and running out of "Apertures" to get the exposure right or using the lens wide open when I know that isn't ideal for the 70-300mm I use.

    Cheers,

  6. #6
    terrib's Avatar
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    Re: Pine Squirrel on full auto

    Thank you Geoff and Dave for your help. I do shoot wildlife in Aperture priority mainly because I'm more concerned with the DOF being right. But I do need to learn to constantly reassess if the surroundings have changed and make adjustments.

    Dave, your reasoning is exactly why I'm trying to get used to Manual mode. So many times, when shooting wildlife, exposure compensation is needed and I have to move my face away from the viewfinder to get to the button to change that. I just haven't been able to speed up that process.

    All your responses have been helpful. Thanks so much!

  7. #7
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    Re: Pine Squirrel on full auto

    I also use Aperature most times for wildlife. I will switch to manual if I run into focus or metering issues although most times if I need to do that....I would be better off changing my physical position.
    I will use manual more for landscape.

    It's all good practice though! Well done on that quick moving critter.

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