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A few small tweeters from my yard

Discussion in 'Birds' started by Tim Z, Dec 22, 2005.

  1. Last September I setup my homemade blind and a bunch of small perches around my creek and pond in my yard. I built a two pond setup about 10 years ago, and pump a small creek from the upper pond to the lower pond. In September the water attracts all the migrants in the area as water is scarce at that time of the year. Most of these little guys can be challenging to get close to and have them still enough to capture. Here's a few samples from my experiences while in the blind. Can't wait until next year. :smile:

    They are:
    1) Red-breasted Nuthatch
    2) Golden-crowned Kinglet
    3) Yellow-rumped Warbler
    4) Pacific-slope Flycatcher

    D70S with Nikkor 300 f4 AFS and TC-14E II
    ISO 200
    One SB-800 and two SB-600
    Manfrotto ART 055 tripod






  2. SSchex


    May 18, 2005
    Louisiana, USA
    Wow! these are great. I looked at your site, good stuff.
  3. very nice work on some of my favorite subjects.
  4. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    Fantastic images.

    thanks for sharing
  5. Beautiful Tim, those are just terrific.

  6. Awesome job Tim, looks like you made the switch to digital quite easy ;-)
  7. RForshey

    RForshey Guest

    Great stuff!
  8. Flew


    Jan 25, 2005
    Gorgeous shots Tim. I really need to set up a blind in my back yard too. I have plenty of targets around our feeders until I walk out there with my cam gear. :rolleyes: 
  9. Excellent can you please detail how you had your mulitple flashes setup please.
  10. Thanks for comments everyone. :smile:

    Mike, here's the lowdown on my creek/pond setup. The first image shows the lower pond, where I have a few natural looking perches setup, and the second image shows the creek running from the upper pond to the lower pond, with some of the perches and my blind. The second picture was taken before i got my other SB-600. Plus I havew fine tuned and added a few more perches. They look a bit further away from the blind than they really are, due to using the 18mm wide angle. The closest perch is about 5 feet and the furthest about 12 feet.

    At first I was just using two flashes, where I had the SB-800 on the camera hotshoe and a SB-600 on a tripod off to the right of the blind. This second flash was set on 28mm to 50mm for a wider spread and pointed down at the perches from above. I need the one flash one the camera hotshoe as the birds land all around the area and I need for that flash to be able to move with the camera to point at the subject. When I got the third flash, I used it on another tripod and again set it on 28mm to 50mm and pointed it at the background. This second flash lights the BG as well as the left side of some birds.

    The most difficult decision was weather or not to setup for the creek or pond on any given day. Some birds prefer drinking/bathing in the creek, while others prefer the pond. However, many would go to either, and naturally would go to the spot that I was not setup for. My blind does have portals on both sides as well, so I was able to shoot out that side, but without the flashes.

    As an example, a gorgeous male Townsend's Warbler was coming down on a fairly regular basis, but almost every time came to the spot that I was not setup for. It was about the only species coming to the creek/pond that I missed this year. Needless to say, I was cursing that little bugger :smile: In total there was 37 species down for a bath or drink in a three week span in September.

    I sat in the blind for about 3 hours everyday. I would watch where most of the birds were landing at that time, and focus my lens on that perch. Once the birds land, I would have about 2 or 3 seconds to AF and shoot. They would seem to arrive in waves, with long periods of little activity, and then periods of frantic activity where the flashes would be going off like crazy.

    I also try to use the slowest shutter speed I can get away with (usually between 1/100 sec and 1/250 sec) so that I could get some natural ambient light combined with the flashes. The flashes would light the subject well. I also eventually stopped using the TTL metering system in the speedlights, as I found it to be too slow for the smaller birds that don't sit still at all. Plus the preflash was scaring some of them and I would just end up with the tail end of a bird flying away. The SB-800 allows you to fully control all settings for up to 4 flashes. So I would set each flash on a manual setting, ususally 1/4 power for the master and 1/8 power for the two remotes. The only time this was a hassle is when some birds would land really close, like 4 to 5 feet, then the master flash would be too strong. In time I got really good at making quick changes while I was shooting. All of this is used in wireless operation.

    Hope this helps :smile:




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