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Thread: Need advice on shooting Herons

  1. #1
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Need advice on shooting Herons

    In Vancouver we are very lucky as we have a large group of herons nesting in Stanley Park. Today I went to photograph these herons but it was very challenging because the herons are way high up in the trees (~ 10 -20 meters up) and focusing is also difficult between the branches.

    My settings for the most part were Manual, iso 320-800, SS 1000-1400 and Aperture 5.6-7, exposure comp on average +.7

    I did not do much editing because I hope to get better shots next time around... I loaded in Lightroom to eliminate all the purple and green fringing (on all of the tree branches and the birds) and sharpened in Photoshop Elements. The fringing was really bad but I don't think I can do anything about this.


    Here are a few of the photos... I think the light-room de-fringe tool drained the colour out of the photos.. I hope you enjoy viewing despite the imperfections because the sight of these nesting birds is pretty special


    Need advice on shooting Herons



    Need advice on shooting Herons


    Need advice on shooting Herons




    Need advice on shooting Herons


    Need advice on shooting Herons


    Need advice on shooting Herons


    Need advice on shooting Herons

    Need advice on shooting Herons


    Just for fun

    Need advice on shooting Herons

    I would like to improve my focus (using a tripod is impossible here) and the lighting. Unfortunately I can't climb the tree to get closer to the birds. The photos with the blue sky were only because one of the herons moved to a tree with better lighting. Any recommendations for settings for me to try next time?

    Thank you in advance.

  2. #2

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    Re: Need advice on shooting Herons

    Christinia, you really need to get almost eye level with them , to get good shots. To do it safely, you need a hunters tree stand and appropriate safety gear ,in case you slip. I've taken quite a few shots of herons in conditions like this, and it is the only way i've gotten good results. There is just too much clutter , shooting from the ground. If there are any trees near by (i don't recommend climbing the tree the nests are in), that you can climb, that is the answer. Then shoot either in the early morning or evening , which ever gives the best light. (A crossing light works well, as well as backlighting in the early morning.)

    Another option, is to find a different roost, that gives you a higher position, or one that you can climb a tree.



    A few examples of what climbing a tree can do for you...................................




    Need advice on shooting Herons


    Need advice on shooting Herons


    Need advice on shooting Herons



    Need advice on shooting Herons


    Need advice on shooting Herons


    Need advice on shooting Herons



    Need advice on shooting Herons


    Another option , is to hit up the feeding areas and try and get some shots there.

    If you climb, make shure you have the appropriate safety gear. It's not worth hurting yourself, for a photo.


    As far as camera settings, i try and keep my shutter speeds up to 1/1000 or higher. I usually shoot in manual mode. Focus drive in AI servo. Shoot with an image stabilized lens, freehand. I turn the focus search to off in the camera menu. (this keeps the lens from hunting, when you loose focus of a moving target.) Always check your histograms and shutter speeds, and make adjustments as needed. Be safe, and have fun. Shooting a heron roost from a treestand is alot of fun, and a great experience. Give it a try, you will be glad you did.

  3. #3

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    Re: Need advice on shooting Herons

    I was glad to see your answer Steve, I remembered these fantastic shots from last year.

  4. #4
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Need advice on shooting Herons

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve S View Post
    Christinia, you really need to get almost eye level with them , to get good shots. To do it safely, you need a hunters tree stand and appropriate safety gear ,in case you slip. I've taken quite a few shots of herons in conditions like this, and it is the only way i've gotten good results. There is just too much clutter , shooting from the ground. If there are any trees near by (i don't recommend climbing the tree the nests are in), that you can climb, that is the answer. Then shoot either in the early morning or evening , which ever gives the best light. (A crossing light works well, as well as backlighting in the early morning.)

    Another option, is to find a different roost, that gives you a higher position, or one that you can climb a tree.



    A few examples of what climbing a tree can do for you...................................

    {Mod snipped most Photos from quote}

    Need advice on shooting Herons

    Another option , is to hit up the feeding areas and try and get some shots there.

    If you climb, make shure you have the appropriate safety gear. It's not worth hurting yourself, for a photo.


    As far as camera settings, i try and keep my shutter speeds up to 1/1000 or higher. I usually shoot in manual mode. Focus drive in AI servo. Shoot with an image stabilized lens, freehand. I turn the focus search to off in the camera menu. (this keeps the lens from hunting, when you loose focus of a moving target.) Always check your histograms and shutter speeds, and make adjustments as needed. Be safe, and have fun. Shooting a heron roost from a treestand is alot of fun, and a great experience. Give it a try, you will be glad you did.
    Very nice, the shot with the highway in the background couldn't have been taken from a tree stand, could it? Where was your vantage point for that shot?
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 24th March 2013 at 01:50 PM.

  5. #5
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Need advice on shooting Herons

    To Christina,

    I know it can sometimes be difficult to control but when you set up for a shoot do you consider the direction of the light? When I photograph sports, I sometimes change my position so that the light is falling on the athlete. This often results in flat images but it helps me obtain a good exposure, especially if i don't have a very fast lens. However, I can sometimes get very dramatic images if I am shooting on the shadow side of the athlete, but this tends to result in very noisy images.

    This is easy to do for long distance races set on city streets, probably not so easy for your style of photography.

  6. #6

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    Re: Need advice on shooting Herons

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowman View Post
    Very nice, the shot with the highway in the background couldn't have been taken from a tree stand, could it? Where was your vantage point for that shot?
    It was taken from a treestand. The roost I shot over, was along side of the interstate. There was a small hole in the trees, that i could shoot through. I noticed that when a heron of a certain nest would fly in , it would always go through the same hole. So i simply set up for it and waited. If you look close, you can see some darker areas in the image of blurred tree limbs.

  7. #7
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Need advice on shooting Herons

    Hi Steve,

    Thank you for your recommendations and for sharing your gorgeous, inspiring photos.. Unfortunately there are no trees nearby that I could climb, and I think I'd be booted out of the park if I tried. Perhaps in another locale, another time.

    There was just so much going on up there that I thought I'd try. I did shoot manual with a shutter speed of 1250, Aperture 5.6-7, iso 320-800, and my histograms were in the ball park. AI mode but I did not turn off the focus search and I don't have image stabilization in my camera or my lens - not yet.

    Anyway, thank you. Truly magnificent photos. Off to find the feeding areas...
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 24th March 2013 at 01:51 PM. Reason: remove quote, didn't seem necessary

  8. #8
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Need advice on shooting Herons

    Hi John,

    Yes, I try to but in this case I did not have many options. I took these early in the morning, and thought I might try and return one afternoon to see if the light was better, but in light of Steve's advice I'll look for another area. Thank you.

    Christina


    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowman View Post
    To Christina,

    I know it can sometimes be difficult to control but when you set up for a shoot do you consider the direction of the light? When I photograph sports, I sometimes change my position so that the light is falling on the athlete. This often results in flat images but it helps me obtain a good exposure, especially if i don't have a very fast lens. However, I can sometimes get very dramatic images if I am shooting on the shadow side of the athlete, but this tends to result in very noisy images.

    This is easy to do for long distance races set on city streets, probably not so easy for your style of photography.

  9. #9

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    Re: Need advice on shooting Herons

    Now that you know what to look for, perhaps you can find a better roost site. They like to roost around small lakes and streams as well. Pay attention to the type of trees they like to roost in. (Around here, it is usually a sycamore. Sycamore doesn't get it's leaves untill late in the spring. Makes it easier for them to fly in and out of the nest, without leaves on the tree.)

  10. #10
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Need advice on shooting Herons

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve S View Post
    It was taken from a treestand. The roost I shot over, was along side of the interstate. There was a small hole in the trees, that i could shoot through. I noticed that when a heron of a certain nest would fly in , it would always go through the same hole. So i simply set up for it and waited. If you look close, you can see some darker areas in the image of blurred tree limbs.
    I can see the tree limbs, nice backdrop not typical in nature settings.

  11. #11
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Need advice on shooting Herons

    Thank you to all.

    Here is why I was determined to try shooting up a tree.. the herons are in their breeding plumage (which is gorgeous) and mating

    For this photo I did not bother to fix the chromatic aberration, I just cropped, lightened and brightened which also washed out the colour but you can see the birds

    Need advice on shooting Herons

    Need advice on shooting Herons

    And here are a couple of better shots from Mexico...

    Need advice on shooting Herons



    Need advice on shooting Herons


    Need advice on shooting Herons

  12. #12
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Need advice on shooting Herons

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    Thank you to all.

    Here is why I was determined to try shooting up a tree.. the herons are in their breeding plumage (which is gorgeous) and mating

    For this photo I did not bother to fix the chromatic aberration, I just cropped, lightened and brightened which also washed out the colour but you can see the birds

    Need advice on shooting Herons

    Need advice on shooting Herons

    And here are a couple of better shots from Mexico...

    Need advice on shooting Herons



    Need advice on shooting Herons


    Need advice on shooting Herons
    Very nice, the in the tree shots might have been spoiled by the camera's auto focus system.

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