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Thread: Bird Photography - White Birds

  1. #1
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Bird Photography - White Birds

    I'm trying to improve my focus, especially on bird shots... Practicing... I shot both of these photos at

    Aperture priority F8 iso 320 matrix metering... I think my focus is good? yes, or no?

    And I am puzzled as to why the front belly of the bird is overexposed in the first shot (obviously I forgot to check for blinkies) but not the second shot. Is it simply because I changed position... therefore the angle of light changed? (the colour of the grass is also very different) Or should I have spot metered on the belly of the bird for the correct exposure?

    Bird Photography - White Birds

    Bird Photography - White Birds

  2. #2
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Bird Photography - White Birds

    You can achieve both (sharpness, tighter exposure control) shooting at faster shutter speed (one or two stops), especially as the bird is still very active. Did you do a levels adjustment in post processing?

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    Re: Bird Photography - White Birds

    Thank you John... I will try again on the next sunny day.. No, I used Lightroom on these photos, colour balance fine tuning, autotone and some small adjustments from there... Lately I've been using lightroom because it seems simpler (except for selections)... I don't think lightroom has a levels adjustment but Elements 9 does..

    How would a levels adjustment help?

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    Re: Bird Photography - White Birds

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    Thank you John... I will try again on the next sunny day.. No, I used Lightroom on these photos, colour balance fine tuning, autotone and some small adjustments from there... Lately I've been using lightroom because it seems simpler (except for selections)... I don't think lightroom has a levels adjustment but Elements 9 does..

    How would a levels adjustment help?
    You can use it to tone down the image a bit. Of course you could also do that with the exposure slider in your RAW conversion or with the shadows/highlight adjustment.

  5. #5
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Bird Photography - White Birds

    Thank you.

    I tried the levels and I think it helped... Far from perfect but good to know for future shots.

    Bird Photography - White Birds

    Bird Photography - White Birds
    Last edited by Brownbear; 14th March 2013 at 10:06 PM.

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    Re: Bird Photography - White Birds

    Hello Christina, regarding focus I use auto-focus... either AF-S (single focus mode if the camera is hunting focus) or most times AF-A (the camera chooses between single focus or continuous focus depending if the subject is stationary or moving). Not knowing your shutter speed or lens for these shots make sure your shutter speed is fast enough to overcome any movement. I shoot everything hand held (my camera and lens are small and light weight), a good rule to use to determine shutter speed for a particular lens is the mm of the lens x the crop factor or the camera. A 300mm lens on a Nikon with a crop factor of 1.5 would need a shutter speed of 1/450, with VR you can cheat a little but not the 3 or 4 stops that is claimed. Regarding white birds... my starting point in bright sunlight is -1EV. I shoot a test shot and check the blinkies. Spot metering the bird normally does not work because the highlight that will clip most times is too small to meter off. Know that if shooting white birds in bright light there will be clipping and look for it. Once clipped that detail is lost. It is easier to preserve the detail and raise the exposure in Lightroom, normally there is a margin of +/- 2 stops. Below is a Snowy Egret shot in bright sunlight in Florida at 1/500, f8, ISO 100, -1EV.

    Bird Photography - White Birds

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    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Bird Photography - White Birds

    Thank you Joe.. I admire your bird photos and aspire to take shots just like you one day. The clarity and detail and focus in your photos is absolutely perfect.

    My camera is a Nikon D80 and I used a Nikor Af 8-200 mm lens (no VR but one day I plant to upgrade to lens with VR or a camera and/or a camera with image stabilization) Hand held. Matrix metering. Continuous autofocus. iso 320 Aperture priority F8.. shutter speed 800 (focal length 98 mm).. Exposure bias +.3 (I forgot to change after trying to shooting ducks in flight)

    I was shooting mid-day.. bright sunlight, harsh shadows, and I think my biggest mistake was forgetting to change the exposure compensation.


    Very helpful and good to know... I know where this goose lives (and he does not have the nicest disposition) and I will try again, following your advice when the sun returns. Thank you so much.

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    Re: Bird Photography - White Birds

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    I think my biggest mistake was forgetting to change the exposure compensation.
    I would say that your biggest mistake was not checking the histogram, or at least the blinkies. Doing so would have told you to adjust the exposure compensation. My point is that even if you had changed your exposure compensation before taking your first shot, you would still have needed to check your histogram.

    So, make it a religion to check your histogram after every series of photos. I stressed that with my wife so much that she figured it was easier to do it than to listen to me reminding her to do it. She got so used to checking the histogram that it has become second nature to her. She wouldn't think of releasing the shutter without checking it immediately after, and it has made a world of difference in her photos, not to mention the ease that I have while post-processing them.

  9. #9
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Bird Photography - White Birds

    Yes, indeed.. I tend to become wrapped up in the moment when I'm photographing nature and truly I am getting much better at checking my histogram for blinkies...

    Take a look at the teeth on the husband of the white goose! Not exactly a crocodile on my but, but still!

    Bird Photography - White Birds

    That said, I will make it my religion to check for blinkies after every shot..

  10. #10

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    Re: Bird Photography - White Birds

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    I will make it my religion to check for blinkies after every shot..
    You're trying to become a serious photographer. I'm not sure how accurate the blinkies are. Even if they are accurate, they only convey one aspect of the photo. I strongly urge you to check the histogram, not the blinkies, after each series of captures. The histogram will tell you everything that the blinkies indicate and much, much more.

    If you're not familiar with how to interpret the histogram, check out the CiC tutorials about that. Learning how to use the histogram is vitally important to any serious digital photographer. That's true while using both the camera and the post-processing software.

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    Re: Bird Photography - White Birds

    Hi Christina,

    Have you ever tried shooting in spot metering and spot focus mode?
    On the back of your camera there is a button that says AE-L and AF-L. This button can either lock AF or AE. Set up the camera so the button locks Exposure. When shooting very bright subjects in direct sunlight you focus on the bright area and push the AE-L button with your thumb, now you can recompose and half-press the shutter button to focus. The exposure will be locked on the bright area as long as you keep the AE-L button pressed.

    I had a serious problem trying to shoot a white flower in an area with a dark green background, with matrix metering turned on. The flower would be overexposed and the background correctly exposed. Spot metering turned on and the problem was solved. You may burn out your background but will get the exposure on your subject right.

    Maybe it does not work so well on birds, next time I shoot a white bird in bright sunlight I will try it. It is not always easy to lock exposure, pressing the AE-L button and holding it in while re-composing, you need to practice a bit.
    You practice this method of exposure on any subject and see the outcome.
    Doing this will teach you a lot about the Zone System of exposure.

    Maybe you will find this very interesting: http://photo.tutsplus.com/articles/t...s-zone-system/

  12. #12
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Bird Photography - White Birds

    Thank you Mike. I also always (soon to be absolutely always) check my histogram. And I've read and frequently revisit the CIC tutorial on histograms. I learned this from CIC.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    You're trying to become a serious photographer. I'm not sure how accurate the blinkies are. Even if they are accurate, they only convey one aspect of the photo. I strongly urge you to check the histogram, not the blinkies, after each series of captures. The histogram will tell you everything that the blinkies indicate and much, much more.

    If you're not familiar with how to interpret the histogram, check out the CiC tutorials about that. Learning how to use the histogram is vitally important to any serious digital photographer. That's true while using both the camera and the post-processing software.

  13. #13
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Bird Photography - White Birds

    Hi Andre,

    Yes, but I find it very challenging to do with birds. Nevertheless it would have been possible with the goose who was walking around as opposed to flying. I will try it out by practicing on white flowers.

    Thank you for the link.


    Quote Originally Posted by AB26 View Post
    Hi Christina,

    Have you ever tried shooting in spot metering and spot focus mode?
    On the back of your camera there is a button that says AE-L and AF-L. This button can either lock AF or AE. Set up the camera so the button locks Exposure. When shooting very bright subjects in direct sunlight you focus on the bright area and push the AE-L button with your thumb, now you can recompose and half-press the shutter button to focus. The exposure will be locked on the bright area as long as you keep the AE-L button pressed.

    I had a serious problem trying to shoot a white flower in an area with a dark green background, with matrix metering turned on. The flower would be overexposed and the background correctly exposed. Spot metering turned on and the problem was solved. You may burn out your background but will get the exposure on your subject right.

    Maybe it does not work so well on birds, next time I shoot a white bird in bright sunlight I will try it. It is not always easy to lock exposure, pressing the AE-L button and holding it in while re-composing, you need to practice a bit.
    You practice this method of exposure on any subject and see the outcome.
    Doing this will teach you a lot about the Zone System of exposure.

    Maybe you will find this very interesting: http://photo.tutsplus.com/articles/t...s-zone-system/

  14. #14
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Bird Photography - White Birds

    I'd like to say that the link you provided on the zone system is fabulous.. Thank you.


    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    Hi Andre,

    Yes, but I find it very challenging to do with birds. Nevertheless it would have been possible with the goose who was walking around as opposed to flying. I will try it out by practicing on white flowers.

    Thank you for the link.

  15. #15
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Bird Photography - White Birds

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    . . . I am puzzled as to why the front belly of the bird is overexposed in the first shot (obviously I forgot to check for blinkies) but not the second shot. Is it simply because I changed position... therefore the angle of light changed? (the colour of the grass is also very different)
    IF you were using an Automatic Camera Mode, then perhaps because the TTL Meter computed the scene incorrectly; OR you had Exposure Compensation engaged OR both.

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    Or should I have spot metered on the belly of the bird for the correct exposure?
    I wouldn’t have; but if you did chose to do that; then you would have to open up about 2 Stops to account for you metering on WHITE.

    ***

    The bird (the front feathers) appear to be in Front-Llt Full Sunlight (ref – ‘Hard and Distinct Shadows’) that’s EV =15, so I would use the F/16 Rule, for exposure.

    See here for a worked example - open the first image and read the dialogue for a further explanation.


    WW

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    Re: Bird Photography - White Birds

    I personally think that the first photo's focus is much more emphasized and looks better than the second. I also think it is cool how the colors all work together to get a nice "dirt-like" natural feel to it. The orange, green, brown, and white color scheme makes me want more of this photo. Nice work!
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  17. #17
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Bird Photography - White Birds

    Hi Bill,
    I shot aperture priority (f8) iso 320, exp comp +.3, SS 1/800

    For my understanding if I spot metered, why would I have to open up about 2 spots? Simply because the white of the bird is so bright that it fools the exposure?

    Yes, it was bright direct sunlight so according the F16 rule, I should have dropped my iso to 100 and the shutter speed to 400 (I shot at F8)... Is this correct? If yes, I will try it again.

    Thank you for sharing your white cat photos, beautiful and perfectly exposed... However, I can't find the dialogue.




    Quote Originally Posted by William W View Post
    IF you were using an Automatic Camera Mode, then perhaps because the TTL Meter computed the scene incorrectly; OR you had Exposure Compensation engaged OR both.



    I wouldn’t have; but if you did chose to do that; then you would have to open up about 2 Stops to account for you metering on WHITE.

    ***

    The bird (the front feathers) appear to be in Front-Llt Full Sunlight (ref – ‘Hard and Distinct Shadows’) that’s EV =15, so I would use the F/16 Rule, for exposure.

    See here for a worked example - open the first image and read the dialogue for a further explanation.


    WW

  18. #18
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Bird Photography - White Birds

    Thank you Jacky... Especially great to hear that the focus is more emphasized as improving my focus, so it is consistently good is one of my goals.. I'm hit and miss with my focusing skills, especially when it comes to birds.


    Quote Originally Posted by JackBurton View Post
    I personally think that the first photo's focus is much more emphasized and looks better than the second. I also think it is cool how the colors all work together to get a nice "dirt-like" natural feel to it. The orange, green, brown, and white color scheme makes me want more of this photo. Nice work!
    ---------------------------------------------------------
    Jacky
    Best Cameras for Filming

  19. #19

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    Re: Bird Photography - White Birds

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    For my understanding if I spot metered, why would I have to open up about 2 spots? Simply because the white of the bird is so bright that it fools the exposure?
    Yes.

    it was bright direct sunlight so according the F16 rule, I should have dropped my iso to 100 and the shutter speed to 400 (I shot at F8)... Is this correct?
    Yes.

    Your questions are very easy to answer.

  20. #20
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Bird Photography - White Birds

    Thank you

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    Yes.



    Yes.

    Your questions are very easy to answer.

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