/ Look at the birdie

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The Lemming - on 21 Feb 2013
Here's what I've been doing for the last two days.

Apart from developing patience in waiting for these little buggers, what can I do to improve taking pictures of them?

Cheers
http://www.flickr.com/photos/the1lemming/
Brian - on 21 Feb 2013
In reply to The Lemming: Were you in a hide ?
Caspar - on 21 Feb 2013
In reply to The Lemming:

Try moving the feeder forward or zooming further to get that classic blurred background look.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/caspian_james/5445739684/in/photostream
What Goes Up - on 21 Feb 2013
In reply to Caspar: I was going to say exactly the same - move the feeder; lots of distance if you can behind it and wide aperture (wide as you can without jeopardising keeping the little critters in focus). Think about where the light's going to be optimal at the time of day you're shooting when you decide where to place it. If you've got the luxury of shooting remotely from a tripod maybe try a lower angle shooting up into the sky (at about 30 degrees?) and freezing them with wings stretched as they come in to land? Also try that with the feeder out of frame completely so it's just the bird in flight.

If you want to catch something a bit different try standing very still next to the feeder with some worms in your mouth and a remote trigger in your hand. Might take a few weeks to gain their confidence but the end justifies the means... ;)

Nice stuff - play around and have fun!
The Lemming - on 21 Feb 2013
In reply to The Lemming:

Thanks for the advice chaps. I would have loved to have used a wide open aperture but the garden does not get a lot of light, and when it does the sun buggers up the remote trigger.

I also had to crank the ISO up to 1,250 so that I could get a fast shutter speed with an f5.6 or there abouts. I had to work within the constraints of a punter lens.

I will try some shots with the camera pointing up at my birdies when the good weather returns. I have a sunflower feeder in a tree which is frequented by various tits and some camera shy greenfinches. If the camera is pointing up I may have to use a flash to compensate for the bright sky. On the plus side, this will allow me to crank up the shuttter speed and open the lens.

Ho, the excitement.

Good job I'm on sick leave.

:-)

interdit - on 21 Feb 2013
In reply to The Lemming: You have some crisp and clear photos of birds feeding at an artificial feeder.

Technically good, the subject matter is poor.

Put out feeders to attract in the bird life, but have natural perches around the feeder. This is where you aim your camera.


Get as close as you can - either familiarity or camouflage / hide.
Food helps.

Take natural looking shots. put up some natural looking perches.

You don't need a big lens for garden birds, though you will pretty much use any lens wide open when shooting birds. f/5.6 is not a problem if that is the lens you have.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/7442278@N02/8175825725/in/photostream/lightbox/
pebbles - on 21 Feb 2013
In reply to The Lemming: theyre lovely!!!!!
The Lemming - on 21 Feb 2013
In reply to interdit:

Now that is a lovely shot.

As for my little brown jobs, they do like to sit up high away from the cats. Sadly my tripod isn't that tall and the zoom won't be quick enough to catch them.

However I will keep trying. Today was an experiment and with a bit of luck and patience I'll get some more interesting subject matter.

Its an interesting learning curve for such little things that move faster than the proverbial from a shovel.

Cheers
interdit - on 21 Feb 2013
In reply to The Lemming:

The learning curve is massive, but your shots (as I already said) are crisp and technically good and you are close enough to the birds, so you are already well on your way.
So - it's all about props arrangement.

Set up some natural branches near you feeder.
Many of the shots I have are of birds on branches I have cut from a tree and wired to a post next to one of my bird tables.

Like you I don't have a 3000 long lens, so - Bring the birds near to you with food and provide good perches for them to perch on!

Fill lash can be useful, but only if the sun is in front of you. Better to set your feed stations up to have the sun on your back.
The Lemming - on 21 Feb 2013
In reply to interdit:

I'll work on it. The finches are greedy buggers and gorge before feking off. However the various tits do hang around. But seeing as I have a couple of trees for them, I can't exactly predict where they will feast on my nuts. :-)

Just like my life, I can't control any birds and they tease my nuts without thanking me.

:-)
Blue Straggler - on 21 Feb 2013
In reply to interdit:

It looks like the autofocus has preferentially locked onto the feeder in nearly all of The Lemming's shots and as you suggest, it's not the nicest element to have in a photo. I understand the issues with light that The Lemming mentioned. Your advice, to put perches around for the birds, sounds good, hopefully the birds will look more crisp there.
I might be talking rubbish, maybe the birds' body feathers just come across as soft? Here the head and feet look sharp http://www.flickr.com/photos/the1lemming/8496146040/in/photostream but not the body, yet the body is in the same focus zone. I dunno.

I like the pictures and salute the effort!
interdit - on 22 Feb 2013
In reply to Blue Straggler:
> (In reply to interdit)
>
> It looks like the autofocus has preferentially locked onto the feeder in nearly all of The Lemming's shots

Use centre weighted focus and focus on the eye with any animal (even if it compromises the composition- zoom out and crop for composition later).
With a wide open aperture and fast shutter speed for most bird shots you can't expect everything to be in focus -It actually works well to have the eyes, face & beak of the bird in focus, then everything else less so.

> I might be talking rubbish, maybe the birds' body feathers just come across as soft? Here the head and feet look sharp http://www.flickr.com/photos/the1lemming/8496146040/in/photostream but not the body, yet the body is in the same focus zone. I dunno.

High ISO setting I reckon? not actually required when the bird is reasonably static whilst feeding, but essential to freeze a flying critter with a f/5.6 lens in low to medium light.

> I like the pictures and salute the effort!

So do I.

I'll reiterate my original point - The framing and composition is actually more important than the technical qualities of these 'nature' shots.

Make these shots look natural and wild, even if they are actually taken 1m to the left of a very artificial feeding station.
Blue Straggler - on 22 Feb 2013
In reply to interdit:
> (In reply to Blue Straggler)
>
>
> I'll reiterate my original point - The framing and composition is actually more important than the technical qualities of these 'nature' shots.
>
> Make these shots look natural and wild, even if they are actually taken 1m to the left of a very artificial feeding station.

I agree 100%, the birds could be blurred and/or soft-focused but if sharper than anything else in the image, it would be still be lovely. The sharpness of the feeding station is a distraction IMHO

TryfAndy on 22 Feb 2013
In reply to The Lemming:

Try using a flash? This was taken at f5.6 1/200 ISO200 @135mm, but the flash helped with the DOF & bringing out the shadows etc.

https://fbcdn-sphotos-f-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/184664_10151338741284831_712434600_n.jpg
In reply to interdit: Exactly what I was going to suggest.
ChrisJD on 22 Feb 2013
In reply to The Lemming:

If you are using a flash, one of these might help at the long end:

http://www.speedgraphic.co.uk/diffusers_filters_etc/flash_xtender/12837_p.html


They work well
interdit - on 22 Feb 2013
The Lemming - on 22 Feb 2013
In reply to interdit:

Thanks for the links.

You're a star.
balmybaldwin - on 22 Feb 2013
In reply to The Lemming:

DSC_6593 Made me chuckle, it looks like the bird is plummetting to the floor and making no attempt to fly

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