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Thread: Seeking advice on camera settings for Pelicans in Flight

  1. #1
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Seeking advice on camera settings for Pelicans in Flight

    I love to shoot Pelicans in flight, and I try to capture them in unique and sometimes comical positions, and typically set off against a blue sky.

    For this shot I used Manual, A 7.1, SS 1250, ISO 800 ( using higher iso's to achieve a faster shutter speed), matrix metering, Exposure +.3...

    I would like to know how to improve focus and clarity in my bird in flight shots with camera settings and technique... I typically pan, and focus and refocus when the pelican is in the position I want... I shoot raw and jpeg... This shot was taken with a Nikon D80 (Tamron lens 200-400) but I also use and usually prefer my Sony alpha 200 dslr for birds in flight (75-300 mm) for it seems easier to achieve clear focus with my Sony.

    Seeking advice on camera settings for Pelicans in Flight

    I am also learning to edit using Photoshop elements 9 and lightroom 4.1... Here is my edit... I set the white balance, enhanced clarity, sharpened in raw (default setting 25%), and then in photoshop elements adjusted the levels which resulted in the white background... I'd also appreciate feedback on my edit, as to whether the white background is incorrect... it makes the pelican stand out but of course the sky is really blue...

    Seeking advice on camera settings for Pelicans in Flight

    Any and all feedback is truly appreciated. Thank you.

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    Re: Seeking advice on camera settings for Pelicans in Flight

    Christina, fun birds to shoot. Your image looks slightly underexposed...not badly but....
    Your chosen settings really are fairly close to what I would have done and would change slightly from there dependant apon available light. A week ago I shot some pelicans in flight.... I used similar settings but was able to use ISO 400.

    I am not familar with the Tamron lens but as for the Sony 75-300.....if you are close to your subject with good lighting it is quite sharp, unfortunately I found when pushed to it's limits it fell off fairly quick. Getting more serious about chasing birds is why I upgraded from that lens. It also had some fairly serious CA issues in high contrast situations, which I am seeing some of on the wing tip.

    In your image, there is no motion blur and F7 should be fine, this leads me to believe it is down to two things....The lens sharpness itself and the slight under exposure at ISO 800. Although when I had my A100 I had trouble with a correctly exposed ISO 400 if cropping at all.

    Hope this helps some.

    Paul
    Last edited by jeeperman; 10th August 2012 at 06:01 AM.

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    Re: Seeking advice on camera settings for Pelicans in Flight

    I believe it will be helpful to show us screenshots of the Levels & Curve tool for both images.

    Try adding more sharpening. I added more to it without getting any artifacts, though that was difficult to determine with such a small image.

    When you do sharpen, be sure to exclude the plain areas of the sky. Sharpening that area can be disastrous when showing images on a large television or projecting at a large size.

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    Re: Seeking advice on camera settings for Pelicans in Flight

    The main thing is that your focusing is off, what focus setting are you using?, I don't know Nikon but on my Canon I would use AI servo although when a bird is flying towards the camera it can be a bit hit and miss, trying a slightly more "side on" shot is much easier.

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    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Seeking advice on camera settings for Pelicans in Flight

    Thank you everyone.

    Paul
    Yes, I have lots of issues with CA (with the Tamron lens, too), etc with birds in flight, and know I will need to upgrade my camera/lens when I can afford to do so. Meanwhile sometimes I get lucky and practice makes perfect.

    Mike
    Great advice on sharpening. I'm sorry but I don't know how to send a screen shot.

    Trev
    I used to use continuous focus all the time but was adviced to try automatic auto focus, so this is what I am trying out now... On my Sony these are the only options for focusing... On my Nikon, I had it set to automatic auto focus, and also in the menu

    AF Area mode
    Wide as opposed to (Dynamic or single area)

    Center AF area wide zone as opposed to normal zone

    Auto focus assist on.

    No AI servo availalbe... Is this the same as auto focus assist on?

    Thank you.

  6. #6

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    Re: Seeking advice on camera settings for Pelicans in Flight

    Christina,

    To make a screen shot, look on your keyboard for something that resembles "PrtScn." When you use that function, an image of your screen will be sent to the clipboard. Load Elements and open the dropdown menu that allows you to open an image. One of the choices will allow you to open it from the clipboard. Once you crop the pertinent part of the screen shot, save it as a JPEG and upload it to CiC as you would any JPEG.

    If you are using Windows 7, it's even easier. You can use the Clipping Tool to automatically crop the pertinent portion of the screen and save the image as a JPEG. You can then upload it to CiC without having to use Elements or the "PrtScn" key.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 10th August 2012 at 07:03 PM.

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    Re: Seeking advice on camera settings for Pelicans in Flight

    Thank you Mike!

    Here they are

    Before
    Seeking advice on camera settings for Pelicans in Flight

    After adjusting levels
    Seeking advice on camera settings for Pelicans in Flight

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    Re: Seeking advice on camera settings for Pelicans in Flight

    Christina
    In pse I took your first then Ctrl j to duplicate,Filter-High Pass 0.9px OK,Blending Mode to Overlay or Hard Light, Merge Down,Ctrl j,Filter-High Pass-250px-OK,Blending Mode-Soft Light or Overlay,Enhance-Adjust Lighting-Levels-Output Levels-move left triangle to the right and right triangle to the left as much as your taste says.
    Below you see the differences.
    When you take the images you need a Sony A77 which take many shots per sec.and a speedy AF lens.
    Thanks for reading
    Seeking advice on camera settings for Pelicans in Flight

  9. #9
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Seeking advice on camera settings for Pelicans in Flight

    Thank you Radu... Yes, I can definitely see a significant difference. I will print your edited and advice and practice on these pelicans.

    Also thank you for the camera recommendation.

    Christina

  10. #10

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    Re: Seeking advice on camera settings for Pelicans in Flight

    Your screenshots are very informative.

    You're probably aware that textbook use of Levels involves moving the white point far enough to the left until data is displayed just barely all the way to the right of the histogram. You did that. However, textbook use also involves moving the black point far enough to the right until data is displayed just barely all the way to the left of the histogram. You didn't do that, so it might be helpful for you to explain your thinking about that.

    The purpose of implementing textbook use of Levels is to get maximum dynamic range out of an image. The dynamic range is represented in the horizontal axis of the histogram graph. So, maximum dynamic range occurs when data is displayed across the entire horizontal axis of the graph, not just part of it.

    However, not all scenes are appropriate for textbook use of Levels and I believe this is one of them. Some scenes are limited in their dyanmic range. A photo of a black wall and a separate photo of a white wall are two extreme examples. So, when you come upon an image that doesn't fit the textbook application, your goal is to get as much dynamic range as possible so long as that is your artistic goal. (When capturing and post-processing an image, there is always that caveat provided in the italic font.)

    If you agree with me that perhaps this scene is not appropriate for applying textbook use of Levels, consider improving the dynamic range so the data is displayed across a larger portion of the horizontal axis, but don't try to use a maximum dynamic range (don't try to display data across the entire horizontal axis). Consider setting your black point to a value of 23 and the white point to a value of 217. Doing so makes the darkest part of your image black but leaves the brightest part at less than white. You might find the results more appealing, particularly with regard to the appearance of the sky.

    Keep in mind that the lighting and your physical relationship to the location of the sun may make it impossible or at least reasonably impractical to achieve the results that you had in mind when you captured these images. When no reasonable amount of postprocessing will achieve the desired results, it's best to shoot your pelicans under different lighting circumstances.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 10th August 2012 at 07:35 PM.

  11. #11
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    Re: Seeking advice on camera settings for Pelicans in Flight

    Hi Mike,
    Great to know that the screen shots helped.. Yes, I'm learning to edit with a textbook that I have on Photoshop Elements, and I did not move the other points simply because the photo did not look any better to me when I did that. (I'm also learning by trial and error)

    Thank you for the lesson... I will try it out on the pelicans... Yes, I think I'm just starting to realize that with my camera I should start looking for better lighting conditions, and work with what I have, for now.

    Truly appreciated... Thank you everyone. Very helpful...

  12. #12

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    Re: Seeking advice on camera settings for Pelicans in Flight

    Christina,

    Whether you have a $500 camera or a $5000 camera, better lighting conditions will render a better image, all other things being equal. My point is that your camera is probably just fine. Hang in there; you're doing a great job of learning this stuff!

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