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Forums Lobby MASTER YOUR VISION Wildlife (Public) topic #158631
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Subject: "BIF Question" Previous topic | Next topic
rbsandor Gold Member  Denver, US  Nikonian since 29th Aug 2007 Wed 19-Jun-13 01:21 AM
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"BIF Question"



I'm fortunate enough to have had a family of Mountain Bluebirds take up residence in a bit of rain gutter that fits under a roof in my backyard. I've set up a camera that lines up with some trees that are 25 feet directly in front of me. The parents land in a tree top and then fly off at about a 45 degree angle to the nest. I've managed to get off a few shots that are in focus, but think it is more luck than skill.
I use AF-ON focusing and have tried 9,21,51 and 51-3D focus points along with shutter speeds of 1/3200 and 1/4000. I know that I can raise the shutter speed, but then I get in to very high ISOs. None of the focus point choices seems superior to the others.
My method is to keep the AF-ON button pressed in and focused on the bird. The shutter is pressed when the bird flies. I'm getting about 1 in 100 that are sharp or reasonably so. The birds don't give any indication of flight before they rocket off.
If anyone has any suggestions as to how to improve, I'd be most happy to listen and try. Camera and lens combo is a D4 and 500 f/4 with 1.4 TC. Thanks, Richard

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Replies to this topic
Subject Author Message Date ID
Reply message RE: BIF Question danshep Silver Member
19th Jun 2013
1
Reply message RE: BIF Question Jimi Team Member
20th Jun 2013
2
Reply message RE: BIF Question JonK Moderator Awarded for his high level skills and in-depth knowledge in various areas, such as Wildlife, Landscape and Stage Photography Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014
20th Jun 2013
3
Reply message RE: BIF Question rbsandor Gold Member
20th Jun 2013
4
Reply message RE: BIF Question JonK Moderator Awarded for his high level skills and in-depth knowledge in various areas, such as Wildlife, Landscape and Stage Photography Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014
20th Jun 2013
5
Reply message RE: BIF Question AartPapaya Silver Member
20th Jun 2013
8
Reply message RE: BIF Question Gerard Pas Silver Member
21st Jun 2013
10
Reply message RE: BIF Question rbsandor Gold Member
20th Jun 2013
6
Reply message suggestion RE: BIF Question branthunter Silver Member
20th Jun 2013
7
Reply message RE: BIF Question rbsandor Gold Member
21st Jun 2013
9

danshep Silver Member  Olympia, US  Charter Member Wed 19-Jun-13 01:33 AM
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#1. "RE: BIF Question"
In response to Reply # 0





Nice shots.

I would probably shoot at 1/2000 or so and try to get your aperture closed a little more. The larger the number, the smaller the "hole" but the greater depth of field.

Spending some time panning with the birds is time well spent. You get better at doing it and you get a greater % of shots in focus.

One more thing: I watch for the natural patterns of their flight. I have a Jay, which flies over this hedge, lands in a tree and then soars down onto my feeder.


"Today is the tomorrow that yesterday you spent money like there was no"

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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Jimi Team Member  South Lake Tahoe, US  Nikonian since 09th Nov 2006 Thu 20-Jun-13 12:45 AM
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#2. "RE: BIF Question"
In response to Reply # 0



It's not how many shots it took, it's 'did you get the shot?' You did!

This is a tricky situation. Predictive focusing needs time to calculate how fast the object is moving toward the camera then predicts where the object will be from the time you press the shutter to the time the image is made. The more time you give the camera to calculate the better the chances. That means the more distance the object has to move through the field of view the better the results.

Your bird is moving very fast and at an angle that leaves little time for focusing.

You could try more of a side shot as in image 1 so the bird moves across the viewfinder instead of toward the camera.

Image 3 shows the head a little soft and the tree sharper. If a bird is going to fly toward you try this:
Use 21 point, focus on the perched bird. Now manually move the focus point just in front of the bird where you predict it should fly. This is a guess but you should be able to get very close. Start firing when the bird starts to lift and when it is in your focus point push AF-on. Tricky, but worth a try.

For a side shot, set your Focus Tracking to LONG, keep the bird in the focus point and pan as it leaves the perch.

Use the highest shutter speed possible. You're using 700mm in full frame at a close distance. If you shoot in DX it will accentuate motion. Little birds fly extremely fast as shown in image 2 wing motion.

Keep having fun and experimenting with different settings. You will find what works for you and you will 'get the shot'


Jim Stamates
Nikonians Academy Workshop Instructor

http://www.nikoniansacademy.com
http://stamates.com/blog
http://www.stamates.com

  

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JonK Moderator Awarded for his high level skills and in-depth knowledge in various areas, such as Wildlife, Landscape and Stage Photography Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014   New York, US  Nikonian since 03rd Jul 2004 Thu 20-Jun-13 02:50 AM
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#3. "RE: BIF Question"
In response to Reply # 0



I agree with the other posts. And I think you should be thinking the other way around.

Shoot at 1/2000 minimum. Stop down a couple of stops. Use 9 focus points to start, try 21 just for fun. Forget about 51, that just slows the AF system down. Let the ISO go as high as necessary (this is a great situation for auto ISO). Get the shot. A good noisy capture is better than a noise-free miss. For that matter, with a D4 I would not worry about noise until you near ISO 6400.

Once you reach a higher rate of keepers — and I am not suggesting that one out of a hundred is bad — you can begin to widen the aperture and lower the ISO.

BTW, these images are great!

Jon Kandel
A New York City Nikonian and Team Member
Please visit my website and critique the images!

  

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rbsandor Gold Member  Denver, US  Nikonian since 29th Aug 2007 Thu 20-Jun-13 02:07 PM
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#4. "RE: BIF Question"
In response to Reply # 0



Dan, Jimi and Jon: many thanks for the detailed suggestions. I tried a number of things and the two that worked best for me were orienting the sensor to be more parallel to the bird's flight and upping the shutter speed to 1/8000. Even at 1/8000 shutter speed, the bird was often partly out of the frame by the second shot. What didn't work was trying to pan. The birds are just too fast and erratic in their flight.
I tried re-locating the focus point as Jimi suggested but found that I need a faster me or slower birds. They rocket off the branch and as they give no forewarning, it was impossible for me to get the two button press co-ordinated in time for a good shot.
I'll try one more variable as Jimi suggested, by upping the lock on to Long.
In any event, I got some better shots. Out of 50, 4 look good. Thanks again, to all. Richard
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Attachment #1, (jpg file)
Attachment #2, (jpg file)
Attachment #3, (jpg file)
Attachment #4, (jpg file)

  

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JonK Moderator Awarded for his high level skills and in-depth knowledge in various areas, such as Wildlife, Landscape and Stage Photography Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014   New York, US  Nikonian since 03rd Jul 2004 Thu 20-Jun-13 02:18 PM
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#5. "RE: BIF Question"
In response to Reply # 4



What are you complaining about??? These are fine.

Compared to traditional BIF shots, where the photographer picks up the bird in the air and pans across the frame, you are at a huge disadvantage trying to react to a stationary bird that suddenly takes off. I've gotten a couple of those, pure luck.

Jon Kandel
A New York City Nikonian and Team Member
Please visit my website and critique the images!

  

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AartPapaya Silver Member  Hectorspruit, ZA  Nikonian since 21st Oct 2011 Thu 20-Jun-13 09:02 PM
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#8. "RE: BIF Question"
In response to Reply # 4



You did well and thanks to the reaction it deserves, I also learned a lot. I am afraid that with my D300 and a slow lens (150-500)Sigma, I have little chance.

Aart

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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Gerard Pas Silver Member  Snowsquall, CA  Nikonian since 10th Mar 2008 Fri 21-Jun-13 06:17 PM
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#10. "RE: BIF Question"
In response to Reply # 4



no comments on technique but I did want to chirp in and say you have some very nice images

bird that's blue + bird with food + bird in flight (with food) + bird in focus + good exposure = very nice images


Gerard Pas

Ars est celare artem — It is true art to conceal art.
http://www.gerardpas.com

  

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rbsandor Gold Member  Denver, US  Nikonian since 29th Aug 2007 Thu 20-Jun-13 04:19 PM
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#6. "RE: BIF Question"
In response to Reply # 0



Jon: no complaints here, just trying to get a handle on this situation Richard

  

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branthunter Silver Member  CA  Nikonian since 18th Dec 2012 Thu 20-Jun-13 07:09 PM
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#7. "suggestion RE: BIF Question"
In response to Reply # 0



The shots you're already getting are terrific but here's another suggestion. From your description it sounds like you have the advantage of the birds flying a relatively set path each time they take off. That should allow you to pre-focus on a selected point along that flight path and then just have your camera pointed at that spot so that when the bird goes you pull the trigger and it flies through your focus zone. If the take off point is outside your frame of view you'll have to keep both eyes open so that you detect the departure. Many birds telegraph there intention to take wing so watch closely for those signs and use them to your advantage in timing your trigger reaction.

If you don't go you won't get anything

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rbsandor Gold Member  Denver, US  Nikonian since 29th Aug 2007 Fri 21-Jun-13 05:01 PM
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#9. "RE: BIF Question"
In response to Reply # 0



Aart and Brandt: thanks for your comments and suggestions. Brant, focus trapping would be difficult with these birds. They give no forewarning of takeoff and don't follow a predictable path. Richard

  

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