August 01, 2014, 11:02:09 AM

Author Topic: Bird Photography Critique/Tips  (Read 10728 times)

chasinglight

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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #15 on: July 21, 2013, 08:56:37 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.

Wow I had always read that camera raw sharpening/lightroom sharpening was all I needed. Never thought to give smart sharpen a try. That just added tons of value to my PS CS6. Thanks for the tip!!

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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #15 on: July 21, 2013, 08:56:37 PM »

privatebydesign

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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #16 on: July 21, 2013, 09:09:43 PM »
Lightroom sharpening is probably the weakest tool it has, and that is the same algorithm as ACR, it is fine for gentle capture sharpening, but it sucks big time for creative and output sharpening. Pretty much  every program, including PS, does sharpening much better, particularly in situations like this where you are cropping down to pixel level images.

For birders, and I am not one, I have seen superb results from Topaz Denoise and Sharpen, and Raw Therapee. I have Topaz and find the Denoise very powerful, but rarely use anything other than PS to sharpen.
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chasinglight

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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #17 on: July 21, 2013, 11:27:26 PM »
Lightroom sharpening is probably the weakest tool it has, and that is the same algorithm as ACR, it is fine for gentle capture sharpening, but it sucks big time for creative and output sharpening. Pretty much  every program, including PS, does sharpening much better, particularly in situations like this where you are cropping down to pixel level images.

For birders, and I am not one, I have seen superb results from Topaz Denoise and Sharpen, and Raw Therapee. I have Topaz and find the Denoise very powerful, but rarely use anything other than PS to sharpen.

Well thanks again! The tips and advice you have given me is exactly the stuff I was looking for.

scottkinfw

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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #18 on: July 22, 2013, 12:26:09 AM »
Very nice shot.

I like the warm color- looks like it was taken during the golden hours.

To me, the birds eye looks a tad soft, perhaps a bit front focused?  Otherwise great shot.

sek

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
sek Cameras: 5D III, 5D II, EOS M  Lenses:  24-70 2.8 II IS, 24-105 f4L, 70-200 f4L IS, 70-200 f2.8L IS II, EF 300 f4L IS, EF 400 5.6L, 300 2.8 IS II, Samyang 14 mm 2.8 Flashes: 580 EX II600EX-RT X 2, ST-E3-RT
Plus lots of stuff that just didn't work for me

AlanF

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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #19 on: July 22, 2013, 01:33:46 AM »
Private
Those two shots are at comparable sizes and distances.
I do have a 100-400 mm L, and it is a "sharp" copy, being as good as 400mm L  f/5.6 I used to have at the same time.
I have made many comparisons of the 100-400mm L on the same body with other lenses. Here is a collage of it versus the 300mm f/2.8 + 1.4xTC versus the Sigma 400mm f/5.6 Tele Macro under the identical conditions on a 5D III. The target is lampshade, backlit. Again, download to see better.
 
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privatebydesign

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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #20 on: July 22, 2013, 10:29:48 AM »
Alan I don't understand your point.

Is it,
a: A $5,000 lens on a $3,000 body will give you better results than a $1,500 lens on a $1,500 body?
b: That it is impossible to take a sharp picture of a bird with a 100-400?

If it is the first, well that seems pretty self explanatory, certainly somebody paying $8,000 would expect better IQ than somebody that only spent $3,000, that doesn't mean it will be a better picture, just that they could reasonably expect better IQ.

If it is the second, well that is patently false. All these images were shot with a 7D and 100-400 hand held and wide open at 400mm.

http://capture-the-moment.co.uk/tp/tfu29/upload/bridlington/stonechat_flamborough_3.jpg
http://www.capture-the-moment.co.uk/tp/tfu29/upload/101010/goldcrest_st_marys_12.jpg
http://capture-the-moment.co.uk/tp/tfu29/upload/bridlington/fulmar_flamborough_2.jpg
http://www.capture-the-moment.co.uk/tp/tfu29/upload/7D_1000/240710/jackdaw_amble_3.jpg
http://www.capture-the-moment.co.uk/tp/tfu29/upload/7D_1000/240710/eider_amble_1a.jpg
http://capture-the-moment.co.uk/tp/tfu29/upload/bridlington/fulmar_bempton_1.jpg
http://www.capture-the-moment.co.uk/tp/tfu29/upload/310111/turnstone_2a.jpg
http://www.capture-the-moment.co.uk/tp/tfu29/upload/270311/stonechat_1.jpg
http://www.capture-the-moment.co.uk/tp/tfu29/upload/bridlington/gannet_bempton_10.jpg
http://www.capture-the-moment.co.uk/tp/tfu29/upload/270311/pigeon_blyth_6.jpg
http://www.capture-the-moment.co.uk/tp/tfu29/upload/bridlington/knot_bridlington_3.jpg

Even the legendary bird photographer Arthur Morris is happy to recommend the 100-400 for its versatility with no questioning its IQ, though he does point out if you are going to use it almost exclusively at 400 the 400 f5.6 prime is a better buy.

Now chasinglight asked for advice to improve his images. The most obvious, considering the crop was only 12% of the sensor, get much closer, the other, improve your post processing, and he took them both on board. At this point, and possibly never, is there any need to spend an additional $8,000 and even if he did he would still need to improve his post processing skills.

Can you post an uncropped version of your first image? Thanks.
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AlanF

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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #21 on: July 22, 2013, 11:22:48 AM »
Private
I told him it was too soft, and where to look for examples that are good. I then said the trick for the 100-400mm is to fill as much as the frame as possible because the lens isn't that sharp. You came in with the 100-400mm L lens being sharp enough. I go out photographing birds twice a week and share my photos with other enthusiasts. They have all given up the 100-400mm L since it isn't sharp enough. It is a fine zoom lens for photographing elephants and planes at long distances but it isn't sharp enough any more for bird work, except close up. I have taken 1000s of bird photos with the 100-400mm L, but in future will use it only as a back up or use a cheap Powershot, which actually performs better much of the time.

I showed the photos of the lampshade to illustrate the the relative softness of the lens. Now if you want figures to show the relative sharpness of those lenses, look at slrgear.com
http://slrgear.com/reviews/zproducts/canon100-400f45-56is/ff/tloader.htm

I know when I have written enough and am now stopping writing on this subject.
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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #21 on: July 22, 2013, 11:22:48 AM »

Canon1

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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #22 on: July 22, 2013, 11:30:35 AM »
Referring to the OP.  Overall you did a great job on this.  The birds beak is a little "hot"  Bringing back the highlights would help this.  Also, image looks a little soft.  Nothing that some layer masking sharpening or a simple smart sharpen would not fix.

chasinglight

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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #23 on: July 22, 2013, 03:00:28 PM »
Referring to the OP.  Overall you did a great job on this.  The birds beak is a little "hot"  Bringing back the highlights would help this.  Also, image looks a little soft.  Nothing that some layer masking sharpening or a simple smart sharpen would not fix.

Thanks! What I am learning is that what I know about post processing barely scratches the surface for getting the most out of my images. I am always looking for good tutorials and resources on post processing. Do have any suggestions?

Krob78

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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #24 on: July 22, 2013, 03:11:02 PM »
There are no sharp images with an EF 100-400mm.  Especially at the long end... Everyone knows that, which is exactly why they never sold very many... ::)

I hate this lens and wish I never purchased it...  >:(  Lol...

EF 100-400mm
1/1600 sec
F/5.6
ISO - 2500
FL: 400mm
« Last Edit: July 22, 2013, 03:12:38 PM by Krob78 »
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Krob78

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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #25 on: July 22, 2013, 03:30:23 PM »
100-400mm is really irritating on the 7d too... (sarc., implied  ;))
1/320 sec.
f/5.6
ISO 100
Ken

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jrista

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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #26 on: July 23, 2013, 02:53:34 AM »
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?


I agree with alan, the image is pretty soft. Notorious problem with the 100-400. That said, I would try to fine tune AFMA for that lens on that body before you buy something new. I had serious softness problems with my copy on a 7D, but using Reikan FoCal, I eventually ended up with s -12 AFMA that made it a lot sharper. Still not as sharp as a 300/2.8 or 600/4, but definitely much sharper than it was originally. Could save you a lot of money.

Another option, if you really want maximum sharpness for a great price, is the EF 300mm f/4 L IS. Not as sharp as the EF 300mm f/2.8 L IS II, but sharper than the 100-400 even w/ AFMA, and FAR lighter than the 300/2,8. It works with the 1.4x TC for a 420/5.6 in case you need some extra reach and have good light.

One of the most important things in bird photography, more so than composition IMO, is head angle. You want the bird to engage the viewer...do a HA where the bill is 3-4 degrees inward towards the viewer tends to be best. Parallel to the sensor is ok, too. More than 5-7 degrees, and your getting into more specialized territory...it can work, but often not as well as a slighter angle. Any angle outward, away from the viewer, and the photo quickly loses its appeal, with a few exceptions (i.e a parent feeding a chick, where the parent may be facing slightly away.)

Once you get HA down, then worry about composition. ;) BTW, I should note that the HA in your posted photo is a good example of GOOD HA...so keep striving for that. I think as long as HA is good, explicitly following the "rules" of composition is less important (especially since they are guidelines, not rules, in the first place.)
« Last Edit: July 23, 2013, 02:58:01 AM by jrista »
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AlanF

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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #27 on: July 23, 2013, 07:00:00 AM »
100-400mm is really irritating on the 7d too... (sarc., implied  ;))
1/320 sec.
f/5.6
ISO 100

I downloaded the photo to check the exif data. It is at f = 190mm, the sweet spot of the lens, not the full 400mm, the weakest length.  The lens is very sharp at ~200mm and f/5.6-8. I have had some great shots under those conditions, as well as 400mm when I could fill much of the frame.

You must have been very close to the owl to get it to fill so much of the frame. And, that is the way to get the most from any lens. Here is the lens with 100% crop on 7D at 100mm of terns feeding (is0 400, f/5, 1/1600 s).

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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #27 on: July 23, 2013, 07:00:00 AM »

photonius

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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #28 on: July 23, 2013, 08:17:22 AM »
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.


So is the SX50 really better?  Yes, on paper it's 1200mm (ff equivalent), versus 640mm (FF equivalent) for a 400mm on a 7D.  The SX50 gives a factor 2 more reach,  but it's f6.5 at 1200mm, where it is substantially diffraction limited, and you can perhaps get no more than 2-4Mp worth of image quality.  A proper, controlled shootout might be called for.

see also http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/diffraction-photography.htm
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/resolution.shtml

privatebydesign

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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #29 on: July 23, 2013, 09:30:59 AM »
We have had several SX-50 threads too.

http://www.canonrumors.com/forum/index.php?topic=12154.0

In good light when small sensors can actually use their density and technology advantages to best effect, yes, something I have said since getting a G10 years ago. Raise iso, need lens speed, shallow dof, fast AF and they become much more limiting.

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/kidding.shtml

Now, for clarity, I wish Alan would just post his initial image uncropped. I have already shown that many people get superb bird images with the 7D 100-400 combo, including in flight, handheld, wide open and at 400mm,, that chasinglight was not getting the best out of his post processing, and he did a huge crop. I believe his two main issues were, primarily, needing to crop as hard as he did (subject distance), and post processing, nothing more.

Sure there are many "better" lenses, but the one he has is capable of much higher quality output. Why not move forwards with what we have, the 100-400 and PS, than spend other peoples money when there are basic techniques we can suggest to improve our skills and output that would need work even if he had a 600 f4 IS MkII.
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Re: Bird Photography Critique/Tips
« Reply #29 on: July 23, 2013, 09:30:59 AM »