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Thread: Learn from my mistakes - last Elk

  1. #1
    terrib's Avatar
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    Learn from my mistakes - last Elk

    Shooting conditions: About 45 minutes before sunset with animals about 100-150 yards away. Bull was constantly on the move herding his cows and chasing off young males.

    My setup: On a good tripod with ball head not locked down. 100-400mm lens with IS mode 2 engaged since the head was not locked.

    My mistakes:
    1) Shot at 7.1 aperture and should have been at wide open 5.6. (If you don't have the experience to know how deep your DOF is, use the DOF calculator!! I think I know stuff when I don't. )

    2) I underexposed almost all my shots and I know with higher ISO's I should be exposing to the right. Most had to come up in PP by around 1 stop and there is noise in the shadow areas. (If you don't have all this stuff down, think of potential issues ahead of time and make a checklist. Oh, and then get it out of the bag and read it. )


    #1 Upped exposure 1 stop. Very slight crop on this to remove some grass
    Learn from my mistakes - last Elk

    #2 Upped exposure 1 stop. About 15% crop on right side to remove cow with tag collar
    Learn from my mistakes - last Elk

    #3 Upped exposure .9 stop. Small ratio change crop to remove partial cows on right
    Learn from my mistakes - last Elk

  2. #2
    terrib's Avatar
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    Re: Learn from my mistakes - last Elk

    On the ISO issue, I really wasn't that worried about the 800 ISO because my XSi handled 800 pretty darn well. The 7D has a Low, Standard and Strong setting for ISO noise reduction and I had it set on Standard thinking that would be the same as the XSi choice of ISO Noise Reduction "On". I am going to have to do some tests and try the Strong setting to see if that is the difference.

  3. #3
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Learn from my mistakes - last Elk

    Hi Terri,

    Your standards are (like mine) quite high, but there's no troubling noise in these for me, now they have been downsized for viewing here. You will go easier on yourself if you know that in advance

    We've all done that with the exposure (and aperture choice), I'd have shot these at 1600-2000iso, given the time of day.
    There's a slight amount of grass/subject movement in #3.

    The subjects are nice and sharp though, so the focus was good.

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    Re: Learn from my mistakes - last Elk

    We all would like to be perfect, and its impossible not to make mistakes. Personally I thimk these photos are stunning!

  5. #5
    terrib's Avatar
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    Re: Learn from my mistakes - last Elk

    Thanks, Dave and Victor. Your comments are really appreciated.

    I'm afraid to try a 2000 ISO seeing what the 800 looks like (noise does show in the 100% loupe on my laptop). But I really need to do some experimenting with the camera settings and this shooting to the right business to get comfortable with what I can get away with.

    Thanks again!

  6. #6
    Cogito's Avatar
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    What mistakes?

    Terri, they are fine images! No need for self-criticism. An ISO >800 would probably degrade the images even though your equipment can certainly manage this. Yep, you could have opened the lens a little more but why? Focus across the images is fine! A previous poster commented that the grass and a stag moved a bit. But both the grass and the stag are alive and entitled. You shot fast enough to provide decent exposure and decent static. Excellent, well done. I did however steal one of the images and gave it a bit more processind - mostly sharpening. Is this [color=blue] better [/color] ?
    Last edited by Cogito; 11th October 2012 at 11:45 PM.

  7. #7
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    Re: What mistakes?

    I love the quality of these shots. Excellent colors and contrasts. When looking at the zoomed in size, I see no distracting noise at all. Very nice work.

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    Re: What mistakes?

    Great subjects and shots. Like them all.

    As for higher ISOs, don't be afraid to experiment. As long as you take measures to mitigate noise, images can be cleaned up nicely with little loss to detail. The only downside is that more time has to be spent in post.

    Please look here
    High ISOs

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    Re: What mistakes?

    A few thoughts, Terri...

    I realize that my posts about your images are beginning to appear boring, but I really don't remember in my years of participating in photography forums of anyone progressing as far as rapidly as you. These images are terrific examples of that.

    I completely disagree with you that you used the wrong depth of field. I think you nailed it in every image -- and I looked closely. The subject is always obvious and anything that is not the subject is not sharp, exactly as I would hope. The DOF chart tells you what the depth of field will be, but it doesn't tell you the distance between the elk and your camera. So, I applaud you for your success!

    You mentioned that the images were underexposed at the time of capture. I see that you used spot metering. It takes a really experienced judge of luminosity to use spot metering effectively (a lot more experience than I have). I wonder if you might be better off using matrix metering (or whatever Canon calls it) in scenes such as these. Regardless, if you check your histogram after taking a test shot, you will be able to nail the exposure more often.

    You also mentioned the noise when the image is viewed at 100%. One of the best guidelines I've seen is to not be concerned about noise if it can't be seen in a full-size image being displayed at 30% or less. If you need to print a large image intended for being viewed up close, you can deal with the noise then. Otherwise, don't worry about it.

    The only thing that I find objectionable about these images is that most of the elk in the last image is not tack sharp, especially in the area around his eye. I think that's due to a shutter speed of 1/160, which is apparently too slow to stop the action. I have very little experience at shooting animals, but I wouldn't use less than 1/500. I don't think it's a coincidence that that is the slowest shutter speed used in the three images.

    It would be a good idea to explain what IS mode 2 means for those of us, ahem, who are ignorant Nikon users.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 12th October 2012 at 01:29 AM.

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    Try a bugle...

    If you are photographing this time of the year, the elk should be in rutt. An elk bugle is a very easy way to call the big guys up fairly close. Bugles are not expensive ( http://www.cabelas.com/catalog/searc...ucts&x=42&y=12 ) and are fairly easy to use...

    One of my biggest outdoor thrills was in the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico when I used my elk bugle and it was answered from a distance by a bull elk. Unfortunately, my images were on Eltachrome slide film and I have since lost all of my hard copy images when a box was lost while I was moving.

    Thank gosh for digital and sites like smugmug.com/

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    Re: Try a bugle...

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    An elk bugle is a very easy way to call the big guys up fairly close.
    Anything you do that causes an animal to interact with you in a U.S. national park is illegal. I don't know about any other parks.

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    IS mode 2

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    A few thoughts, Terri...



    It would be a good idea to explain what IS mode 2 means for those of us, ahem, who are ignorant Nikon users.
    IS mode 2 on Canon lenses is designed for use whilst panning. It switches off stabilisation in the horizontal plane whilst keeping it in the vertical.
    Most Canon IS lenses can be used on a tripod with the IS switched on since they auto-sense and disengage. The 100-400 in theory should not because it has the oldest IS still in use which doesn't, however he wasn't locked down so here it may have been appropriate.

  13. #13
    terrib's Avatar
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    Re: What mistakes?

    Thank you Tony for the compliments. For some reason I am not able to see the image that you modified.

  14. #14
    terrib's Avatar
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    Re: What mistakes?

    Thanks, Bobo for the comments and the link to the other thread. I will review it again as I experiment with the ISO comparisons on my two cameras.

  15. #15
    terrib's Avatar
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    Re: What mistakes?

    Thanks Mike, once again for your compliments. Not boring me yet - I'm grateful for the time you take in your responses.

    The reason I felt I chose the wrong aperture is that, according to my DOF calculator, using f/5.6 with a 400mm focal length (which I was most of this shooting), focusing at a distance of 300 ft the total DOF would be 36.5 ft. Since my main concern would have been to have the entire bull in focus, 36 ft would have more than taken care of that and any cows standing nearby. So I would have achieved a desirable DOF and would have given myself 2/3 stop of light to either increase shutter speed (and maybe freeze that last shot) or left the shutter speed alone and gotten the right exposure to begin with instead of having to up it in post.

    You may be right about the metering. I really should experiment with that on the new camera. I might come to a different favorite than on my old one. But also, I tend to have a favorite and then use it in all situations and I'm sure different situations call for different methods so I should evaluate that each time. On most of these shots I was metering on the lighter part of the animal, thinking this was a mid tone but looking at the images, it probably is more of a highlight which would explain the underexposure.

    Thanks again!

  16. #16
    terrib's Avatar
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    Re: Learn from my mistakes - last Elk

    Jim, Richard and Steven - thanks to you to for your contributions and compliments. It's much appreciated!

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    Re: What mistakes?

    Quote Originally Posted by terrib View Post
    Since my main concern would have been to have the entire bull in focus, 36 ft would have more than taken care of that and any cows standing nearby. So I would have achieved a desirable DOF and would have given myself 2/3 stop of light to either increase shutter speed (and maybe freeze that last shot) or left the shutter speed alone and gotten the right exposure to begin with instead of having to up it in post.
    If the nearby cows had been in focus, none of the pertinent images would have been as pleasing to me. I really like that only the bull is truly sharp.

    I think you misjudged (as I would have also done) the distance to the cows. You're saying on the one hand that f/5.6 would have kept the cows in focus. Yet they aren't in focus at f/7.1, which would provide a larger depth of field.

    Rather than increase the size of the aperture to allow more 2/3 more exposure, I would have preferred to increase the ISO. That explains why I always use Auto ISO in these situations: I decide the ideal aperture and minimum shutter speed and let the camera decide which ISO will accomplish my chosen exposure.

    If I had been using spot metering, I probably wouldn't have gotten nearly as close to the ideal exposure as you.

  18. #18
    Cogito's Avatar
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    It's probably DPR's cr*p linking.

    I don't like to post an actual image in someone else's thread so I rely on a link try THIS
    Last edited by Cogito; 14th October 2012 at 10:47 AM.

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