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Thread: Post your best bird shots!

  1. #5421
    Senior Member Zach's Avatar
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    got this right after a rain "Yellow-Billed Cuckoo"
    John 3:16

    Canon T5(1200D) Canon EF40mm f/2.8 STM, Canon EF100mm f/2.8 MACRO. Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM

  2. #5422
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joel Eade View Post
    Love the action in this one and the beautiful background. You probably could fix the slight motion blur in the head with Topaz AI Sharpen. As for shutter speed the small birds are a big challenge. Increasing shutter speed helps but, as you said, the higher iso may introduce other problems.

    Have you tried adding "fill flash"? Using an on-camera speed light with something like the Better Beamer can really help reduce motion blur. Generally I would keep the flash in manual mode + high speed sync at a very low setting like 1/64th or 1/128th power. This provides a very brief low powered flash (somewhere in the range of 1/15,000 second) which can enhance the effect of freezing motion without over powering the exposure.
    Thanks Joel.

    I'll have to try Topaz AI Sharpen. Maybe this weekend.

    As for fill flash, do you use it often? I tried it once years ago. I found it scared the birds. But, I easily could have had it well above 1/64th to 1/128th power. But, do you run into that often? Also, I wonder about the refresh rate of the flash. I find myself usually shooting in short 7 fps bursts if I see a poise I like.

    BTW, I am learning and adapting from these comments. I should probably post this on the thread where we discussed it, but I have been using spot metering with letting ISO float for the last couple of weeks. It is better for small birds. As I mentioned in that thread, I tried spot metering before and did not see a desirable effect, but I am really wondering if that was for small birds. Also, I've used photoshop a couple times now to remove things. Lasso to select, but then delete key with content aware and it does a pretty nice job. Little adjustments = more keepers.
    Last edited by Kayaker72; 05-27-2020 at 10:58 AM.

  3. #5423
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    I do use fill flash fairly often and yes it does sometimes "spook" a bird but not always. The response to flash seems individualized. Some birds ignore it, some will "flinch" and not fly away while some will immediately leave.

    The Better Beamer (or something similar) is key because of its ability to "focus" the flash at a distance....this allows you to use the very low power settings.

    The low power settings offer a few advantages:

    ---refresh rate is very very fast and will keep up with short bursts of shots (but this might be more frightening to birds)
    ---the flash duration is very short so it aids in reducing motion blur
    ---battery life is extended greatly
    ---the images do not look "flashed"

  4. #5424
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    Some recent back yard activity....




  5. #5425
    Quote Originally Posted by Kayaker72 View Post


    A bit of blur in its head. I am trying to decide if I should crank shutter speed up to the 1/2000 or faster range for these little birds. Of course, ISO would take the hit.

    Anyway, thanks for viewing...Brant
    Great shots. Do you think it is motion blur or focus? I ask because I see sharpness just beyond the plane of the head, back by the wing. I'm having my share of challenges with this. My goal is to place my focus point on the head, but for small birds that can be difficult. I'll often lock onto a larger part of the body.
    Last edited by PatrickH; 05-31-2020 at 09:32 PM.

  6. #5426
    Female purple martin


    Female Purple Martin Feeling Cute by Patrick Hildebrant, on Flickr
    Last edited by PatrickH; 05-31-2020 at 10:56 PM.

  7. #5427
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PatrickH View Post
    Great shots. Do you think it is motion blur or focus? I ask because I see sharpness just beyond the plane of the head, back by the wing. I'm having my share of challenges with this. My goal is to place my focus point on the head, but for small birds that can be difficult. I'll often lock onto a larger part of the body.
    Hi Patrick,

    I think that is a great observation and now that I've looked at it a bit more, I think it is both may have been factors, which is a bit fascinating. I would put the sharpest point more at the shoulder/top of wing, which should not be that far off from the eye. Also, I do not see things getting progressively more blurry going from the head to tip of beak, rather I'd put those fairly consistent, which indicates it is somewhat parallel to the image plane. It seems the phoebe may have lunged not just forward within the plane, but a little to the side, closer to me. I do see a bit of directional blurr in the beak and, it is really tough to tell elsewhere.

    Something that interests me is how "sharp" can vary. Playing with this example, DOF calculator online indicates I should have ~2.36 inch thick focus plane (700 mm, f/5.6, ~10 m away). But that side movement is less than 1.2 inches. Maybe 0.5"? Which, to an extent with something this small and detailed, but I don't think the same rules apply as to "critically sharp." I routinely see 5 images in a row all on a birds eye and you can see one that is in better focus.

    But, yeah, little birds are a challenge. They move very fast, so this may be AF speed, shutter lag as well as shutter speed. If AF speed, I could potentially buy into the idea that a 1DX series body would be faster than my 5DIV. Shutter speed is something we can all adjust, at the expense of light on sensor. Shutter lag, hmmm, the 1DXIII rates it's lag at 29-55 ms while the 5DIV is 58 ms. Shutter lag doesn't get discussed much, but playing with the math, 58 msec is 1/17th of a second. 28 msec is 1/34.5th of a second. So, I wonder how much of the side movement happened in that 1/17th of a second?

  8. #5428
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    I think it is possible that the sharpness is a bit off due to a combination of motion and perhaps a small AF micro adjustment. Either way it "cleans up" pretty well with Topaz AI sharpen


  9. #5429
    Quote Originally Posted by Joel Eade View Post
    I think it is possible that the sharpness is a bit off due to a combination of motion and perhaps a small AF micro adjustment. Either way it "cleans up" pretty well with Topaz AI sharpen
    For sure, that's a solid change. It doesn't appear to be destructive. I'll have to look into it. Could save some images that I might otherwise skip over.

  10. #5430
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PatrickH View Post
    For sure, that's a solid change. It doesn't appear to be destructive. I'll have to look into it. Could save some images that I might otherwise skip over.
    Nice Joel! I will be downloading a copy soon.

    And in all the assessment of the image, we probably can't neglect that it was taken, hand held, with me leaning over the guard rail of my porch trying to get the small tree (see green foreground on righthand side of image) out of the way. Not textbook.

    In the meantime, some more recent pictures....

    Indigo Bunting. This was actually pretty far away (cropped with a 2x tc on my 500). I've seen him two other times, but still need to process those pics....

    6S0A5294 by kayaker72, on Flickr


    ….and finally, the female northern cardinal posed for me.....

    6S0A6902 by kayaker72, on Flickr

    Thanks for viewing...Brant
    Last edited by Kayaker72; 06-02-2020 at 05:00 PM.

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