Critique Birds by a non-birder

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Andy
Having recently obtained a 500PF, I've been a bit like a hammer looking for nails to pound. Today, I took a break from my bike ride and waited awhile for these two to leave their perches from across the river:

1. SOOC, 100% center crop
500PF 20190918_17305450_19B_3949.jpg
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2. SOOC, 100% center crop
500PF 20190918_17301699_19B_3948.jpg
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I was hoping they would take wing and fly towards my side of the river, but neither of them cooperated. Instead, I practiced on ducks and geese...

3. Processed to taste (not sure what's going on with the colors in the river).
500PF 20190918_17105362_19B_3865.jpg
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Any suggestions for improvement are welcome. Thanks for looking.
 

Butlerkid

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You are a quick study! Take note of your shutter speeds.....faster speeds for faster birds. 1/2500 is a good starting point, but I often end up at 1/3200 - especially in good light.
 
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You are a quick study! Take note of your shutter speeds.....faster speeds for faster birds. 1/2500 is a good starting point, but I often end up at 1/3200 - especially in good light.
Thanks Karen. I did have good light with the afternoon sun setting behind me. Fortunately the 500PF is very sharp wide open, so that meant all options were available without pushing ISO too high. I am certainly pleased with the lens so far!
 
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I might have slowed the ss a little to get off iso 1250....at least tried a few
I hate high iso on the d500
I have found it’s a fine line between tolerable noise and losing shadow detail. I shot #2 at ISO 250 to preserve detail in the white feathers, but shadow detail suffered (not that it mattered in this image). What do you consider the upper limit of ISO for high quality results from the D500?
 
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I have found it’s a fine line between tolerable noise and losing shadow detail. I shot #2 at ISO 250 to preserve detail in the white feathers, but shadow detail suffered (not that it mattered in this image). What do you consider the upper limit of ISO for high quality results from the D500?
Between 800 and 1600
I don’t try to resolve shadow detail with ISO. You can lift some in post if your iso is low
 
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Winter Haven, florida
Nicely done. Looks like you have a good solid handle on the technical part of this pursuit. You realize the compromises between shutter speed, iso, aperture. Congratulations, takes some like me years to get there.
Now start thinking about the images, the art part. That is sometimes harder, and more challenging.
Look for dramatic light. Think about the background, the backgrounds here are busy. Head angles are important. Keep shooting. 10,000 images from now I bet they are even better. The cameras now make a properly focused and sharp image pretty easy to get, almost anyone can get them. The challenge is the other stuff.
Gary
 
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Think about the background, the backgrounds here are busy. Head angles are important.
Couldn't agree more. I was really hoping one of the birds would take to the air and yield an opportunity for a closer shot. But since they remained perched, I just fired away hoping they would do something interesting. Can you elaborate on which head angles are desirable?
You may want to play with the highlights and texture sliders in Lightroom on the second image
I definitely agree that much of the feather detail in #2 can be recovered if I pull back the highlights a bit (I did make sure not to let the highlights get clipped), but as Gary points out, the image isn't strong enough to bother. I shared it and the GBH images primarily to illustrate how happy I am that the 500PF resolves well enough to withstand such aggressive cropping.
 
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This is all opinion, there are no rules. Now for the rules.
Head angle is stronger if the bird is looking perpendicular to you, or slightly toward you. A head angle with the bird looking slightly away, like in your second shot is weaker. At least for me, that gets the delete button. You lose the eye contact with the bird that you get with the perpendicular head, or the bird looking toward you. The eye contact gives your 1st and 3rd shots more presence.
Keep shooting
Gary.
 
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St. Charles, IL
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Andy
This is all opinion, there are no rules. Now for the rules.
Head angle is stronger if the bird is looking perpendicular to you, or slightly toward you. A head angle with the bird looking slightly away, like in your second shot is weaker. At least for me, that gets the delete button. You lose the eye contact with the bird that you get with the perpendicular head, or the bird looking toward you. The eye contact gives your 1st and 3rd shots more presence.
Keep shooting
Gary.
Gary, this is exactly the kind of critique I need. Thank you so much!

Waterfowl seem to be the most accessible where I live. Birds of prey are fairly plentiful too, but it’s harder to know where to look for them. I suppose I’m slowly becoming a bit of a birder - it is challenging and therefore (I suspect) rewarding to get a good shot.
 
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In areas that birds are plentiful, I personally work backwards. I find the perch, background and light that I want. I sometimes hike around for a day or more just looking, where is the perfect light right now. Then I wait and hope a bird shows up. The world, and I, have enough routine pictures of a bird on a stick. I do not need 1000’s of routine bland images of birds. I need one glorious one. So I wait. Build a stage and the players may come. It takes patience, and you have to be willing to come home without even taking a real shot all day. But when everything comes together, wow, I still remember those times.
I post a few bird images to this site, they are almost all taken this way.
Pick your own strategy.
Gary
 
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