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Author Topic: Bird Photography Critique/Tips  (Read 11460 times)

chasinglight

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Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« on: July 21, 2013, 01:05:32 PM »
Hi, I have been getting into bird photography since the beginning of this year. I am shooting with a 7D and 100-400 L. Attached is a recent exposure (I have attached both my processed version and the original RAW). This is probably not my best work, certainly not my worst. What I am looking for is a critique of my exposure technique (what you can infer), the image itself, and the processing. Feel free to download the RAW and post an example of how you think I should have processed it (please include a basic write up of what you did).

I am just looking for opinions and suggestions on how I can improve and hone my skills.

Some details about my technique. This was taken about 7-10 feet from the female red-winged blackbird at about 6PM. I used AF Servo, single point AF, Spot metering, ETTR (as much as I dared), and IS to achieve this shot at 1/800s, f/8.0, ISO 800 @ 400mm. I processed the image completely in Lightroom 4. I cropped, adjusted WB, and globally sharpened, then applied the following local adjustments: highlight recovery, contrast, and applied NR.

RAW photo: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/36974080/Public%20RAW%20Photos/_7D_7610.CR2
JPEG: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/36974080/Public%20RAW%20Photos/_7D_7610.jpg
« Last Edit: July 21, 2013, 01:17:47 PM by chasinglight »

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Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« on: July 21, 2013, 01:05:32 PM »

canon_convert

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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2013, 02:37:48 PM »
Pretty decent shot (downloaded image looks sharp enough).Also, did you mean 10 meters ? this was shot at 400 mm on a crop body and that makes me wonder if you were actually that close.

I am learning as well so I'll let the experts comment on the finer details.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2013, 02:41:20 PM by canon_convert »
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Click

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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2013, 02:44:12 PM »
Nice shot. Your subject is centered, so you can use the Rule of Thirds for a better image composition.

chasinglight

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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2013, 02:48:43 PM »
Nice shot. Your subject is centered, so you can use the Rule of Thirds for a better image composition.

Ya I agree on adhering more to the rule of thirds. I actually just used a batch crop for a bunch of images. Once I processed the photo I realized I should have adjusted the crop, but since I used local adjustments I didn't feel like correcting it.

AlanF

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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2013, 02:56:37 PM »
It is far too soft. Look at www.birdpix.nl to see what enthusiasts expect in terms of IQ and composition. I had the same trouble with the 7D + 100-400mm L - 50% of my photos were rejected by birdpix as being too soft and/or noisy. Since upgrading to the 5D III and 300mm f/2.8 + 2xTC, the IQ of my shots has improved so dramatically so that most photos are acceptable. If you can't afford that gear, the Canon SX50 also does much better than the 7D + 100-400mm for static subjects.
5D III, 70D, Powershot SX50, 300/2.8 II, 1.4xTC III, 2xTC III, 70-200/4 IS, 24-105, 15-85, Sigma 10-20, Tamron 150-600.

chasinglight

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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2013, 03:10:39 PM »
Pretty decent shot (downloaded image looks sharp enough).Also, did you mean 10 meters ? this was shot at 400 mm on a crop body and that makes me wonder if you were actually that close.

I am learning as well so I'll let the experts comment on the finer details.

Yes, I guess I misjudged. more like 7-10 meters based on the size in the frame. It felt much closer!

chasinglight

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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2013, 03:13:28 PM »
It is far too soft. Look at www.birdpix.nl to see what enthusiasts expect in terms of IQ and composition. I had the same trouble with the 7D + 100-400mm L - 50% of my photos were rejected by birdpix as being too soft and/or noisy. Since upgrading to the 5D III and 300mm f/2.8 + 2xTC, the IQ of my shots has improved so dramatically so that most photos are acceptable. If you can't afford that gear, the Canon SX50 also does much better than the 7D + 100-400mm for static subjects.

Ya that is something I have been noticing; that the 100-400 just isn't that sharp unless you are very close. I have some shots with the lens that you can see each individual hair on an owl, but not many. This shot is as focused as sharp as can be for this lens as verified by 200% view. I think being closer would have captured more detail.

I am not sure I can justify the cost of a canon great white like the 300 2.8 at this time as I am preparing to buy a new condo. Do you think a 400 5.6 would be sharper than the 100-400? Or are better results possible with the 100-400 with better technique?
« Last Edit: July 21, 2013, 03:22:18 PM by chasinglight »

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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2013, 03:13:28 PM »

AlanF

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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2013, 03:23:00 PM »
You have hit the nail on the head: if you can get close enough, then you can get some very sharp shots.  The trick is to fill the full frame. The 100-400 performs relatively better on the 5D III.
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privatebydesign

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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2013, 03:47:50 PM »
The lens, and your RAW file, are plenty sharp enough. Spend time getting to grips with post processing and all will be well. It never hurts to get closer too.....

The best time to plant a tree is twenty-five years ago. The second best time is today.

AlanF

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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2013, 04:13:21 PM »
Private, it is still noisy and the resolution is still poor. This is the type of resolution of plumage I would expect at that file size.
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privatebydesign

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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2013, 05:15:20 PM »
Alan,

There is zero noise in the image. As for plumage detail, I agree, there needs to be more, but that is not a failing of the camera or lens, merely an issue of shooting distance, which we have both already suggested.

To imply the 100-400 and 7D are not up to the task is stretching credulity, of course there are better options out there, at a price, but my suggestion of better post processing will elevate chasinglights output far faster and more cheaply than getting another lens, besides, he would need better post processing skills even if he got a much more expensive lens.

Below is a 100% crop, drop it on your desktop to see it without the forum software's butchering. No noise, sharpness not an issue, just needs to be closer for more resolution.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2013, 05:17:59 PM by privatebydesign »
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chasinglight

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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2013, 05:32:25 PM »
Alan,

There is zero noise in the image. As for plumage detail, I agree, there needs to be more, but that is not a failing of the camera or lens, merely an issue of shooting distance, which we have both already suggested.

To imply the 100-400 and 7D are not up to the task is stretching credulity, of course there are better options out there, at a price, but my suggestion of better post processing will elevate chasinglights output far faster and more cheaply than getting another lens, besides, he would need better post processing skills even if he got a much more expensive lens.

Below is a 100% crop, drop it on your desktop to see it without the forum software's butchering. No noise, sharpness not an issue, just needs to be closer for more resolution.

Wow private, you were definitely able to extract more detail in the plumage that I was. Thanks for your advice. I will definitely try to get closer to fill the frame more. How did you sharpen the image? did you use lightroom/camera raw or some specialty sharpening software? was it global sharpening to the whole image? or applied locally?

AlanF

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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2013, 06:12:18 PM »
Private
I have cut and pasted 100% crops from your processed RAW of the blackbird with mine of the Dunnock. Drop them on your desktop and compare the level of detail you get from the 100-400mm L on the 7D with the 300mm+2xTC on the 5D III - the Forum software does indeed butcher the resolution..
« Last Edit: July 21, 2013, 06:17:14 PM by AlanF »
5D III, 70D, Powershot SX50, 300/2.8 II, 1.4xTC III, 2xTC III, 70-200/4 IS, 24-105, 15-85, Sigma 10-20, Tamron 150-600.

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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2013, 06:12:18 PM »

GmwDarkroom

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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #13 on: July 21, 2013, 06:27:10 PM »
Nice pictures.  I get similar IQ on my 60D with the same lens.

I can't comment on your technique, but I would expect for myself that spending 4.5 times as much on the camera and lens would definitely improve IQ. ::)

privatebydesign

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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #14 on: July 21, 2013, 07:05:28 PM »
chasinglight,

Nothing fancy, NR in ACR then Smart Sharpen in PS using a simple layer mask, less than two minutes from opening to saving.

Alan,

I 100% agree your image has lots more plumage detail, but that is not because of your camera or lens, it is because chasinglight was too far away and had to crop too hard. He nailed exposure, there is zero noise and the image is fine for sharpness (considering the crop).

Now my second post, the 100% one, is only 12% of the 7D sensor, that represents less than 5% of your 5D MkIII sensor, an extreme crop. That is where all the plumage detail has gone. How much is your image cropped by? I am certain it is much more than 5% of your sensor area.
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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #14 on: July 21, 2013, 07:05:28 PM »