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Author Topic: I'm going squirrely trying to improve these photos (help)?  (Read 4217 times)

HeavenHell

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I'm going squirrely trying to improve these photos (help)?
« on: August 22, 2012, 11:08:15 AM »
I took  the following two photos yesterday.  The lighting wasn't very good and I couldn't get as close to the subject as I wanted.  I like the fact that I was able to capture the squirrel eating in it's natural habitat, so I'm looking for some tips on how I can improve the look of the photos.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated.





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I'm going squirrely trying to improve these photos (help)?
« on: August 22, 2012, 11:08:15 AM »

AmbientLight

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Re: I'm going squirrely trying to improve these photos (help)?
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2012, 12:20:18 PM »
Did you use the 70-200mm for these shots? I can't find the information in the jpgs you have posted. Can you please provide lens and aperture information? I believe the background looks somewhat busy. Perhaps you can use a wider aperture? I have shot both samples you see below at an aperture of f2.8.

I have shot these squirrels in New York (I wouldn't exactly say that qualifies as a natural habitat). There has been no post-processing in the attached shots.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2012, 12:24:53 PM by AmbientLight »

HeavenHell

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Re: I'm going squirrely trying to improve these photos (help)?
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2012, 12:36:43 PM »
Maybe I'll head back out in the woods today and try a wider aperature f/4.0 as you suggested.  I was hoping to salvage these shots though.

Photo 1
Body: Canon 7D
Lens: 70-200 f/4.0 IS
Shutter speed: 1/25 sec
Aperature: f/7.1
Focal length: 200mm
ISO: 400

Photo 2
Body: Canon 7D
Lens: 70-200 f/4.0 IS
Shutter speed: 1/30 sec
Aperature: f/7.1
Focal length: 200mm
ISO: 400
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AmbientLight

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Re: I'm going squirrely trying to improve these photos (help)?
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2012, 01:04:23 PM »
You have used surprisingly low shutter speeds. I was shooting around 1/1000 of a second so as to avoid motion blur.

HeavenHell

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Re: I'm going squirrely trying to improve these photos (help)?
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2012, 01:21:57 PM »
Yeah, I wanted to capture some of the detail of the tree without cranking the ISO up too high, so my shutter speed suffered.
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AmbientLight

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Re: I'm going squirrely trying to improve these photos (help)?
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2012, 01:32:47 PM »
In my case ISO suffered a bit, but in case of tree trunks noise won't show much, because of a tree trunk's structure.

preppyak

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Re: I'm going squirrely trying to improve these photos (help)?
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2012, 01:36:53 PM »
You have used surprisingly low shutter speeds. I was shooting around 1/1000 of a second so as to avoid motion blur.
Yeah, generally speaking, when I am shooting wildlife, I am putting the lens on the fastest aperture possible, because I am both trying to isolate the subject and avoid motion blur. That same shot at f/4 would still have the tree and squirrel in focus, but the background would be much more diffuse. The green area would be completely blurred, and even the limb behind him would be much more blurred. That would isolate the squirrel more where he now blends with the limb a little. And your shutter speeds would be more like 1/100th of a second, which would save you from getting blurred shots if he moved.

The big thing is background choice. I know this is damn near impossible with something that moves so much like squirrels, but if you were 3-4 steps right and crouched a little, there would be more green which would isolate the squirrel more and make him stand out
« Last Edit: August 22, 2012, 01:40:33 PM by preppyak »

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Re: I'm going squirrely trying to improve these photos (help)?
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2012, 01:36:53 PM »

RAKAMRAK

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Re: I'm going squirrely trying to improve these photos (help)?
« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2012, 01:44:12 PM »
Maybe I'll head back out in the woods today and try a wider aperature f/4.0 as you suggested.  I was hoping to salvage these shots though.

Photo 1
Body: Canon 7D
Lens: 70-200 f/4.0 IS
Shutter speed: 1/25 sec
Aperature: f/7.1
Focal length: 200mm
ISO: 400

Photo 2
Body: Canon 7D
Lens: 70-200 f/4.0 IS
Shutter speed: 1/30 sec
Aperature: f/7.1
Focal length: 200mm
ISO: 400


Instead of f/4 I would suggest to go with something like f/5.6. A bit stopped down but not so much as f/7.1 as to make the background non-blurred (if that is a word).

For the current photos, why do not you try to crop around the squirrel a little tighter and use blurring in post processing for the background (using layer and layer mask).

For squirrels I always find my 70-300 lens to be handy to get close (of course cropping from your lens at 200mm will probably give better results than my third party lens).

I cropped the following pretty severely and reached this resultant photo.


Squirrel by alo-chhaya, on Flickr
Need to learn a lot more.
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BobSanderson

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Re: I'm going squirrely trying to improve these photos (help)?
« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2012, 02:27:20 PM »
Shooting squirrels, like photographing all wildlife in their element, requires patience, experimentation and anticipation. I would take readings with practice shots of the settings before I try to get that perfect squirrel shot. Because they move so quickly it is important to both track them and have a proper speed (certainly above 200 if possible) to freeze the action and avoid camera shake.

In the shade that potentially means some compromise with a higher ISO and shallow DOF making focusing critical.  Ergo the practice and testing. The shots are nice already and you should practice being more cagy and patient in getting closer to those critters for really outstanding work.

pdirestajr

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Re: I'm going squirrely trying to improve these photos (help)?
« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2012, 02:50:53 PM »
IMO the background isn't the issue. It's more of the composition. All I look at is that twig sticking up in front of the squirrel. I'd play around with composition/ cropping to try to get a more unique perspective.

Here is a quick 1 min crop & clone (the cloning is messy, just to give you the idea):

This crop gets rid of the ugly (distracting) white bokeh light coming through the trees in the top left. It also moves the squirrel into a better composition.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2012, 03:03:58 PM by pdirestajr »
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straub

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Re: I'm going squirrely trying to improve these photos (help)?
« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2012, 03:09:53 PM »
I don't usually post pictures, but when I do, they are of squirrels. Here's one solution to busy backgrounds: 500mm+1.4x. I think I went overboard with clarity on this one but it is what it is...

(Info: Cropped to 5x4 + rotated, 7D, f7.1, 1/160, ISO800, hand-held)

pdirestajr

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Re: I'm going squirrely trying to improve these photos (help)?
« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2012, 03:17:34 PM »
I don't usually post pictures, but when I do, they are of squirrels. Here's one solution to busy backgrounds: 500mm+1.4x. I think I went overboard with clarity on this one but it is what it is...

(Info: Cropped to 5x4 + rotated, 7D, f7.1, 1/160, ISO800, hand-held)

Oh that is a cool shot! I love how the squirrel's fur pattern blends so well into the bark. Darwin at work there.
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pwalderh

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Re: I'm going squirrely trying to improve these photos (help)?
« Reply #12 on: August 22, 2012, 03:52:31 PM »
Well here is my take.....

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Re: I'm going squirrely trying to improve these photos (help)?
« Reply #12 on: August 22, 2012, 03:52:31 PM »

K-amps

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Re: I'm going squirrely trying to improve these photos (help)?
« Reply #13 on: August 22, 2012, 03:53:00 PM »
IMO the background isn't the issue. It's more of the composition. All I look at is that twig sticking up in front of the squirrel. I'd play around with composition/ cropping to try to get a more unique perspective.

Here is a quick 1 min crop & clone (the cloning is messy, just to give you the idea):

This crop gets rid of the ugly (distracting) white bokeh light coming through the trees in the top left. It also moves the squirrel into a better composition.

Thats exactly how I would have cropped it too. Leading lines form the branch also helps.
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HeavenHell

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Re: I'm going squirrely trying to improve these photos (help)?
« Reply #14 on: August 22, 2012, 06:56:11 PM »
Thanks to all that replied.  I'm still learning and appreciate the tips :)
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Re: I'm going squirrely trying to improve these photos (help)?
« Reply #14 on: August 22, 2012, 06:56:11 PM »