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Thread: Geese in Flight - challenges with multiple geese

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    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Geese in Flight - challenges with multiple geese

    Manual 2500 F 6.7 iso 1600

    I seem to be able to capture decent shots of geese in flight when it is a side view and I think I am getting better at catching the light but whenever I try for more head on it seems that my focus is soft (and bits of birds clipped)... Someone suggested to me that perhaps my lens needs to be adjusted for front/back focus which I will check out, but as my camera and lens is new I am thinking that it is a deficiency in my technique.

    All photographed within minutes of each other

    #1 Side view - sharper focus on heads

    Geese in Flight - challenges with multiple geese

    Front views

    #2

    Geese in Flight - challenges with multiple geese

    #3

    This one is cropped to show that my focus is off.

    Geese in Flight - challenges with multiple geese

    Can anyone see from these photos what I am missing when I try for head on shots?

    Thank you.

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    Stagecoach's Avatar
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    Re: Geese in Flight - challenges with multiple geese

    Hi Christina,

    Looking at No 2 the 'sharpness' appears to reduce between the front and rear bird. It may be the DOF is to narrow at f6.7 for this arrangement. They are also at ISO 1600 which is going to have an impact on overall sharpness I believe.

    Also do you know where your focus point is for these shots ?

    Grahame
    Last edited by Stagecoach; 25th September 2013 at 02:01 AM.

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    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Geese in Flight - challenges with multiple geese

    Hi Grahame,

    Thank you for your reply. I could try a larger aperture but that means I will have to up the iso quite a bit. I am going to try again tomorrow morning as it will be sunny.

    Center point single focus (most of the time) or center point multil 51 point focus, which I always use for BIF with panning trying to keep my focus on the head of the bird.

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    rtbaum's Avatar
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    Re: Geese in Flight - challenges with multiple geese

    The way that I see is that objects moving parallel to the focal plane will change focal distance slowly allowing the AF to track easily( relative term ); objects moving perpendicular to the focal plane change that distance rapidly and definitely are beyond my AF. I am sure that with practice you will be able to anticipate the goose's movement. I generally go for the MF for most my shooting, the old 400 5.6 is just not as dependable as I would like

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    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Geese in Flight - challenges with multiple geese

    Hi Randy,

    Thank you for sharing. I've never tried manual focus with birds in flight, seems like it would be incredibly difficult to do but I will give it a whirl this morning.

    Christina

    Quote Originally Posted by rtbaum View Post
    The way that I see is that objects moving parallel to the focal plane will change focal distance slowly allowing the AF to track easily( relative term ); objects moving perpendicular to the focal plane change that distance rapidly and definitely are beyond my AF. I am sure that with practice you will be able to anticipate the goose's movement. I generally go for the MF for most my shooting, the old 400 5.6 is just not as dependable as I would like

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    Re: Geese in Flight - challenges with multiple geese

    Christina - I am not qualified to comment on the focusing but please don't beat yourself up on clipping some of the birds, the composition on your first two photos is in imo good as you have captured the movement. I also really like the reflections of the birds on the water - must have been a nice still morning.

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    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Geese in Flight - challenges with multiple geese

    Thank you Kaye... I'm going to try manual focus anyway... If it is a disaster I will change back...

    Early mornings are best for calm water... Off to try again, hopefully the geese are still out and about.

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    Re: Geese in Flight - challenges with multiple geese

    I like them all; probably the head makes the body of the bird as the back ground in the second and third image, which can be a dwarfen the view

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Geese in Flight - challenges with multiple geese

    Hi Christina,

    I think it is a combination of lack of DoF and AF not always successfully tracking something coming towards the camera.

    I say this because I have often DoF issues just when shooting two floating geese/ducks on a lake/river - their physical separation is outside my typical DoF for say f/8 or even f/11 with a telephoto lens at distance. (obviously depends how far apart they are).

    Keeping the AF point on the head of the first goose is going to waste the DoF in front of it, so it might be worth (if you haven't already done this), aiming for the second one and hope the DoF covers the 1st and 3rd adequately.

    Regarding manual focus for things in flight, in my experience, that's likely to be effective only if;
    a) you can predict the flight path
    b) you can AF, then lock to MF, or just MF on something static at the appropriate distance and wait for them to fly into the 'trap'
    c) you can accurately 'time' the exposure when they reach that point - this can be very difficult if the static object isn't in frame because they're a bit higher than it, by the time you realise they're as sharp as they are going to be, I find I get blurred heads and sharper tails.

    If you really want to practice BiF; either to hone your own skills, or explore different AF modes (to find most reliable), I thoroughly recommend finding a Bird of Prey or Raptor centre that does flying displays, 2 or 3 a day - and make sure you attend them all! (They'll likely fly different birds in each, but the flight paths to perches are often more predictable than birds in the wild and some do a finale with several birds in the air at once)

    HTH,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 25th September 2013 at 07:24 PM.

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    Re: Geese in Flight - challenges with multiple geese

    Hi Dave,


    Thank you very much for your very informative reply... I will keep it first and foremost in my mind for next time around.

    This morning I used F10 SS 1600 (as low as I think I can go with almost head-on geese in flight coming straight at me and in close proximity) and auto iso which still came out at 1800 (:

    I used Manual focus but I didn't switch to manual until I spotted the geese in my view finder... I think I focused on the 2nd goose by instinct.


    Geese in Flight - challenges with multiple geese


    Geese in Flight - challenges with multiple geese

    Bottom Goose out of focus

    Geese in Flight - challenges with multiple geese


    Thank you to all. Although still far from perfect I think these are likely my best shot of multiple geese in flight in a head on orientation so far, and accomplished based on the advice received here helped. Manual focus was a little awkward but not as hard as I thought it would be... Next time I will try a little larger aperture...

    Thank you!

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    Re: Geese in Flight - challenges with multiple geese

    Christina, objects which are coming at you head on, unless they are moving drastically around, shouldn't need a shutter speed of 1600, try 800. I wouldn't use auto iso either. Nikons are good for noise so putting it on auto iso and it gives you 1800, I would say far to high. I am not sure of your ambient light but to have it on 1800 iso, I don't think so, more like 800 iso or even 1000 iso depending on your judgement of the prevailing ambient light. What focal lens are you using? Manual focus, not for me if you want pin sharp images. Wished I lived nearer to you I would go out with you and give you some tips. For now just keep on practising and then practise some more.
    Dave.

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    Re: Geese in Flight - challenges with multiple geese

    Hi Dusty,

    Thank you for sharing. Truly appreciated. I just read in some book but I can't remember which one, but it was last night and it talked about shutter speeds for head on objects... 800 sounds mighty slow too me but I will try it, because I adore your bird photos...

    I've been experimenting with auto iso, sometimes it works well and sometimes it makes the image too noisy at full size... I photographed these at 6:45am this morning about 15 minutes into sunrise... So the light is low, but I will try a fixed setting the next time around... It will not likely be until next week because I have some work to attend to tomorrow morning and then it is forecast to rain for a few days, but for sure the very first non-rainy morning I will try again. And hopefully the geese will still be about but if not I will try it on ducks or something.

    And yes, I will keep practicing with auto focus and manual focus until I figure out what works best.

    Thank you.

    PS It is a 300 mm Nikon lens (a good one and my best lens) with a 1.4 extendor attached to it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dusty View Post
    Christina, objects which are coming at you head on, unless they are moving drastically around, shouldn't need a shutter speed of 1600, try 800. I wouldn't use auto iso either. Nikons are good for noise so putting it on auto iso and it gives you 1800, I would say far to high. I am not sure of your ambient light but to have it on 1800 iso, I don't think so, more like 800 iso or even 1000 iso depending on your judgement of the prevailing ambient light. What focal lens are you using? Manual focus, not for me if you want pin sharp images. Wished I lived nearer to you I would go out with you and give you some tips. For now just keep on practising and then practise some more.
    Dave.
    Last edited by Brownbear; 25th September 2013 at 10:11 PM. Reason: Add lens info

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    Re: Geese in Flight - challenges with multiple geese

    Hi Dave,

    I just noted this...

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    If you really want to practice BiF; either to hone your own skills, or explore different AF modes (to find most reliable), I thoroughly recommend finding a Bird of Prey or Raptor centre that does flying displays, 2 or 3 a day - and make sure you attend them all! (They'll likely fly different birds in each, but the flight paths to perches are often more predictable than birds in the wild and some do a finale with several birds in the air at once)
    We do have a Bird of Prey sanctuary here where I go to practice once in a while as it is a ways away... And yes, the path is predictable but very short (and no multi-bird finale) but I will visit again and practice.. Good advice, as always. Thank you.
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 26th September 2013 at 08:13 AM. Reason: Tidy quote

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Geese in Flight - challenges with multiple geese

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    We do have a Bird of Prey sanctuary here where I go to practice once in a while as it is a ways away... And yes, the path is predictable but very short (and no multi-bird finale) but I will visit again and practice.. Good advice, as always. Thank you.
    Hi Christina,

    Sorry, yeah, I added that as an after thought

    I am extremely fortunate to have probably half a dozen BoP centres, zoos/safari parks, or other 'tourist attractions' that do BoP flights within 70-100 miles (e.g. an easy day trip) and twice number that if travelling a bit further (may need a planned overnight). Each is slightly different and provide alternative photo opportunities.

    Some of the BoP centres also do 'photography days', some of these are expensive affairs with an 'expert' providing 'time shared' 1:1 tuition, others are more modestly priced, with just a 'keeper' and a small group of say 6 people taken to various (normally off limits) areas which provide great backgrounds and the keeper(s) that do what they can to hide the jesses (sp?), etc. My daughter Rebecca and I have attended a few of the latter, sometimes they're more about perched than flying birds, but they're worth the fee - and usually you get the public flying displays too, of course (assuming the centre does them).

    Is it possible there may be another place you could try in BC?

    Good luck,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 26th September 2013 at 08:53 AM.

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    Re: Geese in Flight - challenges with multiple geese

    Hi again Christina,

    Regarding the earlier reply with 3 pictures; it looks like you're making good use of fore-aft DoF

    One thing I forgot to mention is that with D5000 or D7100, there's no substitute for shooting multiple short bursts and forcing a refocus between these, as sometimes the AF doesn't lock on to what you think it should.

    If not using AF-ON (which disables the following), I have the release mode set to "Focus" to try to ensure sharp pictures, never-the-less, I still find some are good while others 'missed'. This is where practice (lots of it) helps me minimise the less successful shots.

    Plus there's always the 'good day' vs 'bad day' issue; sometimes no matter what I do, a day's shoot will be mostly trash and the day before, or after, contains a much higher percentage of keepers, so much so I then have to spend time deciding which precise composition in a burst has say, the 'best arrangement' of feathers.

    Kind regards,

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    Re: Geese in Flight - challenges with multiple geese

    Mt suggestion comes from using a bridge camera which is quite unlikely to focus quickly* so in self defence I fall back of the trick of prefocusing at a distance I know I will get the subject size I want and wait for the subject to arrive ... this way with luck you can use the larger aperture at a lower ISO. I am sure I would get more misses than takers but when I got it right they would be good
    In this suggestion I am suggesting using ones photographic skills rather than hoping the camera can do it and get it right. There is the other tip which the vintage aeroplane guy emphasised of pressing the trigger immediately you get focsu [ ligh in a Panasonic camera ] ... he also was shooting in burst ... with a FZ200 and x1.5 telephoto adaptor giving him 750mm angle of view.

    Current models are very fast for regular subjects ... as to if they woud match a DSLR I am not sure.

    The trouble with reducing the shutter speed for approaching subjects is that while you get a sharp body which hardly moving the wings are, unless the bird is soaring, and could be movement blurred as with race horses taken with a panning caera at slow shutter. With good panning the bodies are reasonable the horse seemed to have eight legs ... not sure how that was achieved Maybe there was a second horse out of sight behind.

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    Re: Geese in Flight - challenges with multiple geese

    Hello Christina, it is hard to tell what is the problem because I do not know how far away you were from the geese when you captured the images. Reading that your aperture was f6.7 I would guess that did not give enough depth of field for multiple birds. As you know I rarely use an f-stop below f8. Birds of this size are large, the closer they are the greater depth of field is necessary. For multiple birds most times I use f16, I like to err on the side of caution. I would rather get the shot than get home and be disappointed.

    Regarding focusing I always use Nikon's Continuous Focus Mode ( Automatic ). I prefer the AF-A Mode that allows the camera to use Single Focus Mode for stationary birds and Continuous Focus Mode when it sensed movement. Nikon's auto-focus modes do a wonderful job to provide sharp focus. I am sorry but I do not understand why anyone would pay a thousand dollars to several thousand dollars for a camera to make taking photographs easier then use manual focusing. It is hard enough to change to the correct aperture and exposure needed without having to think about focusing manually. When manual focus was all there was sports photographers used to focus on a spot and hope the play would cross that area. Today with continuous focus ever image can be in sharp focus once the camera has locked on.

    The second set of images shot fifteen minutes after sunrise... the noise is not caused by Auto-ISO but rather lack of sufficient light to over come the inherent noise in digital photography. In landscape photography the golden hour is wonderful, slow shutter speeds can be used to let in lots of light because nothing is moving. In nature/bird photography one needs high shutter speeds which means diminished light to the sensor, so the golden hour is not such a good thing. And you are at a higher latitude than I am which means even less bright conditions because the sun is lower in the sky. If the images are sharp noise can be handled in post processing but I still shoot an hour or so after sunrise, down here that is from about 8 AM to 10 AM.

    Once again I say for all birds flying I use a minimum of a shutter speed of 1/2500, err on the side of caution... get the shot, do not be disappointed at home. You may only have one opportunity to get the shot of a lifetime.

    Here are a couple head on shots. Both were shot at 1/2500, f8, Auto-ISO ( 800 ISO at 0 EV for the Cattle Egret and 400 ISO at -1 EV for the White Pelican ) Auto-Focus Mode AF-A. If there were multiple birds all I would have changed was the aperture to either f11 or f16.

    Geese in Flight - challenges with multiple geese

    Geese in Flight - challenges with multiple geese

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    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Geese in Flight - challenges with multiple geese

    Thank you, Dave, Photo Nut and Joe for your replies and advice.

    Dave, it only takes me about 90 minutes to get to the Bird of Prey show so it is just a matter of fitting it in my schedule and will do. Thank you for sharing... With head on geese I have to many bad days.

    Photo Nut, I would have to pre-focus on the sky or a spot on the water as I'm standing on the end of a pier, and I'm not sure if that is possible.

    Joe, The 2nd set was taken at F10 but I will try a smaller aperture and a little later in the day (less geese fly by but maybe I'll get lucky). The noise is only seen in some shots, full size and it is not too bad but I also think that with lower iso's one gets better quality in terms of detail and colour, and I see on some bird photographers web sites that they often use lower shutter speeds and somehow manage to capture a sharp shot. So even though I have learned that using a faster shutter speed and higher iso gives me a much better success rate I am going to try a slower shutter speed just to see what happens as I want to learn all the possible ways to do it, before I get settled in one best way.

    When the geese fly by or over my head they start about 30-40 meters away and I'm trying to catch a head on that is not clipped when the geese/goose is just a few meters away...

    Joe, those are gorgeous photos, as always but not quite as head-on as I am thinking. Here is what I am trying to do, but without clipping the goose and with the goose looking right at me.

    Geese in Flight - challenges with multiple geese


    Thank you to all.

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    Re: Geese in Flight - challenges with multiple geese

    If you are using your fixed focal length 300mm and then adding a 1.4 teleconverter how can you avoid clipping the wings if they get too close. You cannot zoom out or change the focal length.

    Also regarding lower shutter speed for birds in flight images... my guess would be they are using full frame cameras, 600 to 800mm lenses with or without a teleconverter mounted on a appropriate carbon fiber tripod with a Wimberley Mount or similar gimbal head. And shooting birds that are a distance away with perfect panning that the setup allows, $20,000 to $30,000 worth of gear.
    Last edited by jprzybyla; 26th September 2013 at 03:07 PM.

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    Re: Geese in Flight - challenges with multiple geese

    My great grand daddy perfected a Goose whistle using his old pocket knife and a piece of wood. He worked on it for years to perfect the tone. When he got it exactly how he wanted it, he realized that the geese paid absolutely no attention to it Then he worked for the rest of his life to convert it to a fish call That didn't work either but he had a lot of fun whittling

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