A Study in Scarlet

Discussion in 'Birds' started by PJohnP, Mar 12, 2005.

  1. PJohnP

    PJohnP

    Feb 5, 2005
    Those members of the Cafe who also read DPR may recall that I did a couple of shoots at the Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake City last summer. The Aviary generously allowed me a bit more access than usual, and in return, I shared photos of the (then) newly hatched African Crowned Crane chicks for their use. A win-win arrangement ensued, and I found that the Aviary was extremely serious about their committment to treating the birds on-site with the utmost of care.

    I was in Salt Lake City for ten days in late February into March, and the Aviary provided me with greater access to photograph more of the birds. I'm going to be sharing my shots with them for their website in the coming months.

    Aviaries offer some special challenges. While some birds are accepting of humans, others are very timid and can be seriously frightened by perceived human threats. The Tracy Aviary was extremely careful of how close I could be to any timid birds. Where this was an issue, I shot through the cages to limit the potential for trauma for the birds.

    One such case of a timid type of bird was shooting Scarlet Ibises. I shot a substantial number of images through the cages. These posed some interesting challenges.

    The scarlet ibis is truly red, and almost incandescent in sunlight. It's not much of an exaggeration to say that the birds have a glow about them. However, the beak of the scarlet ibis does not share the crimson hue of the feathers. In order to get a good angle on the ibis while not frightening them away, I shot from outside the cage with a 200-400mm AFS/VR lens, with only a minor adjustment of the aperture to f/5.6 so that the cage would blur out in the DOF.

    Working with a lowly D100, I could estimate that I would see a spike from the red channel, but lacking the sophisticated RGB histograms on the newer cameras, I'd have to watch my exposures carefully. I also knew that if I shot for the red only, I'd lose some detail on the beak.

    And the ibis had just picked up a ripe fresh cricket to eat...

    So I shot several photos knowing the red would be a bit hot, hoping I could compensate in processing. Lacking the machine gun speed of some of the other cameras wasn't ideal for my images, but even the sound of the D100 shutter made the bird begin to ease away from a clear view, so it was probably a wash in the end.

    [​IMG]
    D100, 200-400mm AFS/VR, ISO200, 1/400s, f/5.6, exp. comp. -0.7, processed in NC, no crop

    The background and related bokeh were severely affected by the cage between me and the ibis. Were I a better PS user, I might blur that much more, but that's another exercise. I wonder just how this would render with a lens that has a "displeasing bokeh", but that's yet another exercise.

    Additionally, I'd have liked to capture the end of the ibis' beak more clearly where it's nibbling on the cricket. However, a smaller aperture in the range of f/8 or smaller tends to start to bring the cage wires into the DOF to some degree, or if not in clear focus, creates a grid of blurred lines on the bird. I'm still experimenting with just how this works. I find that each of my lenses has a different "cage point" than the other. In general, the more open the aperture, the less the effects of the interposed cage on the subject focus and sharpness, but the background almost always shows some artifact.

    At some point, it would be interesting to play with this image in RML, because I think the red highlight details could possibly be recovered more than I did in NC, but that's based on the anecdotal information I have about that package. I probably should punt the NEF over to Peter or Iliah for a test...

    But this study in scarlet is done. For the moment, at least.

    Even if you're in the red, always shoot.



    John P.
     
  2. NeilCam

    NeilCam

    609
    Feb 21, 2005
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Great story John and a pleasing image to boot. Oh and instructive also. Thanks!

    Neil
     
  3. PJohnP

    PJohnP

    Feb 5, 2005
    Neil :

    We aim to please ! :D

    Seriously, shooting in zoos and aviaries is a real challenge. Most of us won't be going on safari, down the Amazon, or through a jungle in the immediate future. Properly managed zoos and aviaries provide a real service for people to gain an appreciation of the animals and birds of the world.

    But shooting through glass or cages poses some difficulties, which can be partially addressed. Shooting closer to an open aperture is one (partial) solution.

    Choosing a subject well back from the closer cage wall, but still removed from other walls is another (partial) solution.

    Picking a shooting position where the cage wires are not excessively highlighted by sun, nor blackened by shadows is is another (partial) solution.

    And with all those, the hit rate on the photos is still not ideal.

    Yet.

    I'm working on developing some more specific guidelines for shooting with various lenses. At this point in time, I only have the one body, a D100, so I don't know if the issues are body/sensor specific as well.

    Thanks for the supportive comments.



    John P.
     
  4. NeilCam

    NeilCam

    609
    Feb 21, 2005
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Gee I don't know John, I spend far too much time exploring Amazon - neither my wallet nor my bookcases can handle it. :D

    Sorry, I'll be leaving now. :)

    Seriously though, thanks for the other tips on zoo shootings. I've only tried it once and it was pretty much a failure. I knew about the shooting as wide open as possible, but the other hints will be invaluable for the next time I try.

    Like you I "suffer" with the D100. ;)

    Neil
     
  5. PJohnP

    PJohnP

    Feb 5, 2005
    {rimshot on the snare drum}

    Well, we've made a committment to avoid the craziness of some of the other Nikon fora here. Part of that is trying to communicate the concepts of our photography so we can learn from one another.

    I'm not so sure that I'm the best role model in that respect, but I'll do what I can to assist others. I've surely been given a lot of solid advice from better photographers than me, and I aim to try and live up to that lofty standard.

    Try at least... :wink:

    Y'know, as much as I lust after a D2X (and I've expressed this thought at some length in https://www.nikoncafe.com//forums/viewtopic.php?p=9951#9951), I'm really not unhappy with or chafing with the D100. It's shooting well (when the operator gets their head working) and offers a lot of satisfaction. I'm frankly unsure if I'd have taken a better shot of the ibis with a D2X. Higher res, to be sure, but better ?

    My biggest limitations in my photography are not from my camera, but from me.

    I'm working on that last "big limitation". Every day. :wink:



    John P.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  6. Flew

    Flew

    994
    Jan 25, 2005
    Alabama
    John,

    You guys have got to stop posting after I got to bed. I can't keep up as it is.... 8)

    Another excellent post. Very informative, and with an excellent pic to boot. :wink:

    Thanks!!

    Frank
     
  7. PJohnP

    PJohnP

    Feb 5, 2005

    Heh. I have an entire Aviary and a separate Zoo of shots to dole out each night for some time. Now that I know your great "weakness", you'll never sleep ! Never, never, never !!!

    Bwah-ha-ha-hah !!!

    Um, er, disregard the above ranting...
     
  8. Thansk for the instructive post I aappreaicte it what a fantstic color on the bird and you are nailing thses shots .. Keep up the good work.
     
  9. Iliah

    Iliah

    Jan 29, 2005
    nowhere
    Wonderful capture, John!

    I processed a couple of those:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Flew

    Flew

    994
    Jan 25, 2005
    Alabama
    Hey Iliah,

    We all knew that you were a smart guy, but great photog too?? No way man.... 8)

    Great shots. ;-)

    Frank
     
  11. WOW, I love that bright color!! :D :D :D :D
     
  12. Iliah

    Iliah

    Jan 29, 2005
    nowhere
    No way, Frank. It's not me. It's my camera :)

    D1 original, btw... ISO 800, I beleive, Sigma 50-500, handheld at about 1/200. Exif should be there...
     
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