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Thread: Herons in Flight

  1. #1
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Herons in Flight

    It seems that for some reason I could not resist returning and trying to shoot the nesting herons in Stanley Park. No, I did not climb the tree and as before I shot from below.

    I'm practicing on my birds in flight, especially my focus and exposure. And I think I'm improving.

    I varied between using manual A5.6 SS 1250 ISO 800 and Aperture priority at 5.6 (Nikon D80 & Tamron 200-400 lens) Exp usually +1 Center focused Continuous focus set to burst mode which for me is 3 shots

    I processed in Lightroom 4.1, just enough to get rid of any clipping and chromatic aberration (because I shot at a high iso for my camera) and then I downsized in Picasa and applied a sharp mask in Photoshop Elements. I just discovered the luminance tool in lightroom and I noted that if I drag the blue or magenta sliders over they restore the blue sky but I also noted that this seems to add noise to the photo.

    I know these are far from perfect (and indeed sad looking compared to Joe's herons), so no feedback necessary (I know what is wrong with them.. sharper focus needed, shadows on the wings, noise etc) but sharing because I think these herons are pretty special.

    However I would like to know if anyone uses that luminance tool in Lightroom 4.1, how much and why?

    Herons in Flight

    Herons in Flight

    Blue sky effect

    Herons in Flight

    Ah... One question... How does one avoid shadows on the undersides of the birds wings? I don't think I could have photographed from any other position and had sufficient light... Perhaps photographing at a better time of day is best? (these were photographed at 8 a.m.)

    Herons in Flight

    Herons in Flight


    And up the tree

    Herons in Flight
    Last edited by Brownbear; 30th March 2013 at 10:08 PM.

  2. #2
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    Re: Herons in Flight

    Christina, I really like the second to the last, carrying the branch. It's sharp focus, fully in frame and carrying the branch adds interest. I think it was worth the return trip. Looks to me like you are improving.

  3. #3
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    Re: Herons in Flight

    Thank you Terri... I will try again in a couple of weeks. Hopefully they will be flying a little lower. The practice will serve me well for future.

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    Re: Herons in Flight

    The only way to avoid darkness in the undersides of bird's wings is to add a little bit of positive exposure compensation when shooting. But that can result in over exposed white areas or the sky.

    Your only other option is to use a little selectively applied brightness during editing. This is where a combination of two Raw edits with different exposure settings can be helpful.

    Or use a really powerful flash when shooting!

  5. #5
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    Re: Herons in Flight

    Thank you Geoff. I used exposure comp +1 - 1.5, and yes my skies are usually overexposed when trying to photograph BIF.

    Noted... I will try for some more photos in a couple of weeks and if it goes okay I will try combining two raw edits.


    You're joking with me? ie; one can't use a flash and high shutter speeds in combination? or is this something I don't know about?

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    Re: Herons in Flight

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    You're joking with me? ie; one can't use a flash and high shutter speeds in combination? or is this something I don't know about?
    Actually you can, Christina.

    External flash unit in High Speed Mode will synchronise with a high shutter speed. I sometimes do that when fill flash is needed for action shots. But subject to having a suitable flash unit.

    But there are some limitations, particularly with regard to distance. I'm not sure offhand about the actual figures, without checking the tables, but the distance reduction is substantial; and not suitable for most birds in flight.

    Although I have used it on occasions for garden birds.

    Some pro photographers, such as journalists, always keep their flash on HS Mode because it will still work normally at lower speeds.

  7. #7
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    Re: Herons in Flight

    Thank you Geoff.

    I don't have an external flash right now but perhaps one day for close up birds. Good to know.

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    Re: Herons in Flight

    Very useful for insects as well. But then you will want a specialist macro lens and . . .
    Last edited by Geoff F; 31st March 2013 at 10:30 PM.

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    Re: Herons in Flight

    Hi Christina. Very nice series. BIF are always a challenge and you managed it very well.

    I would like to know the shutter speed used (coul not recover the exifs). I feel that you could use a little higher speed on some. Not sure though. Regarding the shadows under wings, and considering that you already used exposure compensation (+), the only resource left is the PP, to bring more details on shadow areas. Of course shooting during the golden hours is always better to have a more even light, but not always we (and the subjects) can wait for this proper time...

    Thanks for sharing and very well done!

    Cheers...

  10. #10
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    Re: Herons in Flight

    Hi Otavio,

    Thank you. I photographed with a Nikon D80, Tamron lens (200-400 mm, an old very well used lens)

    Manual F5.6 (the widest I can go) Shutter speed 1250, Exp. Bias +1, center weighted metering, iso 800. I'd love to use a faster shutter speed but I'd have to up the iso too much... I photographed these at 8 a.m. in the morning...

    Are you saying that if I went at say 6:30 am or 7 a.m. (sunrise) or 7 p.m. (sunset) that the light would be better (even it if is a little darker) for birds in flight?

    Thank you. I hope to return in a couple of weeks, figuring that when they have their babies they will leave the nests, flying lower and more frequently I hope.

  11. #11
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    Re: Herons in Flight

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post

    Are you saying that if I went at say 6:30 am or 7 a.m. (sunrise) or 7 p.m. (sunset) that the light would be better (even it if is a little darker) for birds in flight?
    What I mean is that the better condition will be the sun in the horizontal position (better light under the wings) and positioned behind you. Hard to tell the exact time, as this will vary from place to place and season to season. One simple rule you can use is considering one hour after sunrise and one hour before sunset. If you shoot during sunrise/sunset, you wont have enough light.

    Hope that helps... cheers,

  12. #12
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Herons in Flight

    Thank you. yes, that helps... I will be looking for horizontal light Cheers!

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    Re: Herons in Flight

    Hi Christina,
    Alternatively you could try something far more challenging than birds in flight ...
    ...Nice going, nice images. You're way ahead of my ambitions and doing a mighty fine job of grabbing those fleeting moments of a damned hard subject that is even harder to capture in the ideal.

    Bob.

  14. #14
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Herons in Flight

    Bob, Thank you for your kind words.

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    Re: Herons in Flight

    There is a lot to be said for pre-planning and knowing your target's habits etc. When you're out there, however, you can't always count on any pre-planned approach, angles of flight,the time of day or how you're going to react when the anticipation bears fruit and adrenaline immediately kicks in.
    Sometimes it simply comes down to what the Irish would call the 'moment that's in it' or, basically speaking, the luck of the moment. Bottom out at f 5.6 or thereabouts, dial in the shutter speed you think appropriate to the situation you've been witnessing and set your rig for multiple exposure. You can snap just one off if you're cock-sure and cool, or hold the trigger and loose off multiple images whilst in the throws of semi-controlled excitement.
    Personally, the ultimate moment of fruition invariably gets to me, so I lean towards the latter and thus cover both reactions.

    Bob (again)

  16. #16
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    Re: Herons in Flight

    thank you. Will do!

  17. #17
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    Re: Herons in Flight

    I returned one afternoon (instead of early morning) and the light was better but still not quite right and the herons were not as active so less opportunity to photograph them in action.

    I promised I would post once more so here they are. I think these shots are better but still far from perfect... So from now on I'm just going to work on getting closer to the birds, and these particular nesting herons are too high up in the tree. However come July they may be out and about flying in the park.

    Herons in Flight

    (I lightened the shadows in the above photo so its noisy)

    Herons in Flight



    An attempt to improve the background


    Herons in Flight

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