Night-time AIN'T EASY! (3 photos)

Discussion in 'Birds' started by cajun angel, Aug 6, 2008.

  1. I belong to a TX Birder's Forum and was told yesterday about a flock of purple martins that were roosting not too far from my house. Well this evening was my only chance to get out and try capturing a few. We got there way early, the birds didn't start showing up until after 8 and of course the lighting would be really hard for me.

    We were overwhelmed at the sight of thousands of purple martins swarming before roosting in the parking lot trees. The kids were wide-eyed and very excited to see such a sight. Well, I missed out on a cooper's hawk catching an evening meal! While there, I met a gentleman that belongs to the Purple Martin Society, a lady from the Audebon Society - they all want my photos! How I wish I was better at it! So please, please help me correct my settings for the next opportunity I may have - I don't know how much longer the birds will be around before they move on. I have more photos and exif info on my flickr acct.

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  2. Flew

    Flew

    994
    Jan 25, 2005
    Alabama
    Not sure what you could have done differently Dianne other than to get the flash away from the lens a bit to cut down on the red-eye. Looks like it was pretty dark. When shooting stationary birds with flash, I mount two or three flash units on small tripods with the closest unit at least 3 feet away from the cam connected with a cable, and the others triggered remotely. Even if you just have one flash, you can reduce this problem by connecting the flash with a cable and mounting or holding it away from the cam.

    Hope that this helps.
     
  3. frank has given great advice.... of course
    nice of you to show us these shots
    they weren't easy to obtain

    you are "branching" out in your photography... no pun intended
    well done, dianne
     
  4. eng45ine

    eng45ine

    May 11, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Yikes, I don't think I have ever seen bird images taken at night with a flash. I'm thinking early morning or early evening might be more appropriate. Additionally, using an f/4 lens with a teleconverter brings the aperture to f/5.6, that's aweful slow even when using a flash. Frank's idea to use several flashes set up close to the trees may be a viable option, but shooting with a single flash is asking an aweful lot of your gear. Personally, I would concentrate on photographing birds during the daylight hours.
     
  5. I'm not a Night time Shooter Dianne, But both Frank's have good points a, For me I would Try early Morning shooting!!!
     
  6. Dianne,

    If the birds are not showing up to roost until its too dark to shoot, can you capture them in the very early a.m. before they head out for the day?
     
  7. Dianne, great work, it can be very tricky focusing in the dark!
    Kevin P.
     
  8. They are great shots and like Kevin mentioned, focusing in the dark can be a challenge. You did a great job.
     
  9. genera

    genera

    Oct 6, 2005
    California
    What! No flight shots? :biggrin:


    Putting redeye, harsh light, and shadows aside you were close enough that we should be seeing more detail than what we're seeing. Looking at your full size images I'd say that noise is stealing a lot of that detail. If possible, up the flash output and/or use your Better Beamer to get the ISO closer to 100 where the noise should be less.

    I also see banding on many shots in this series, including the first two posted. I beleive that there's a firmware fix available. Does you D200 have tha latest FW?
     
  10. Yeppers, Flew is a great source of info and I deeply appreciated it! Well branching out, huh!? I'll try photographing almost anything once! The photos were just an added souvineer - we enjoyed watching them come in for a landing. Next time, I'll have to get photo of the kid's reactions- that would have been priceless!

    Hi Flew!!!!!! I'm thinking if we get the op again (perhaps Sat) about putting one of my 2 sb800's on a tripod, then it's where to put my 2nd light. The birds were swarming and the light wasn't ever really what I'd call good - between rainshowers around, clouds, and the sun being hidden, I didn't try for any kind of BIF's. Besides those birdies are very irratic, fast, and I wasn't familiar with their birdology enough to know how to handle it. Though they may not be the greatest photos, I was happy that I got to see what they look like, sound like, and the kids were completely amazed at the sight - there had to be thousands! Thanks for stopping by and for your advice - it's well taken, and I'll be trying this again!
     
  11. Well, we got there a little bit after 7, the birds didn't show up until after 8:15 and then it was already getting quite dark - darker than I've ever tried shooting before! I'm hoping to be better prepared - gotta read up on the martin's habits and try to find out when they would leave the roost in the morning.

    That's what I plan on trying to - perhaps tomorrow morning. We'd have to get there well before daylight. Gonna try to talk Mark into going with me.
     
  12. Hiya Gary! Not knowing their habits, I'm planning on just that and see if I can get better results. I'm hoping for tomorrow morning.

    Thanks Kevin! It was a big challenge, but fun! And no poop on me!

    Thanks! I'd focus on the lighter parts of the bird, then move up to the head, refocus and shoot. There were so many birds, it was hard getting some nice clean shots without something to mess it up. I consider these just plain LUCKY!

    I did up the flash out put on some of the last of my photos - blew the lighter parts of the birds out really bad. I used my better beamer on all my shots. I really wasn't that close to the trees - I had to stand back a bit to be able to see the tops of the trees where the birds were. How do I check the firmware on the D200? When I had my camera serviced a few months ago, they updated that for me - or I thought they did.
     
  13. Diane, these are pretty good considering the light and the subject. The Purple Martins are so dark to begin with anyway and even tougher to expose properly in the daylight.

    Hope you get another shot at them.
     
  14. Hiya! ANd thanks! I actually went back last night and go more - 249! BUT forgot some important settings so I may try again tonight. I had a rare op last night too - got to witness the release of some birds! I got photos but one may be considered kinda 'artsy" but I made a bunch of mistakes. I have them on flickr if you want to see them. Again, just remember - I made a ton of mistakes last night! And yep, this is a rare, beautiful sight to see in person!
     
  15. SteveK

    SteveK

    Mar 16, 2005
    Alaska
    Dianne, I looked at the Flicker photos. The ones that really have impact to me are the flight shots with thousands of birds. If you can work on more of those, I suspect that you may get something very good. Should you have the luck to have a bit more light, and especially, if there is a red sunset these group flight shots can have lots of impact. As others have mentioned, you're better to have the flash units off to the side, but in this situation, it's difficult not to drive shadows and have hot spots; all you can do is keep trying, and hope things just work on a couple of shots. I've literally spent months working on some critter at night before getting a few shots that are good.

    Depending on the availability of insects, these birds may arrive at the roost earlier, or leave later in the morning.

    As an aside, do you know that different animals have different colors of eye shine? It's possible to tell what type of animal you see from the eye shine color in some situations. If you have a head lamp, or hold a flashlight just over your head so it's between your eyes shining out, you'll be amazed at the numbers of things you'll see that you wouldn't see otherwise. Spiders have great eye shine, and in most locations you'd be amazed at how many spiders there are in the grasses at night. It's also a good way to find frogs.
     
  16. THANK YOU STEVE! I'm determined to keep trying - if for nothing more than my own self improvement, learning to use my gear more effectively, and watching such wonderful critters! I've been getting to that parking lot around 7:30 and I'd see a few martins flying around catching insects. They wouldn't land until much later. I'm going to keep at it for the BIF's - I used my 80-200 for those just because it's a faster lens than the others I have. We have clouds rolling in today, so there's a chance for a nice shot this evening. Stay tuned...... I AIN'T DONE YET! :rolleyes:
     
  17. Hey, I think these are cool anyway. I got a smile out of these because some of their expressions look cute; if that makes sense. :smile:
     
  18. Hey John Thanks! I'm actually doing the photos for a local group. These birds are so very hard to see! I'm going to try for some sunset BIF's and see how they go. It's fun watching such a huge amount of birds in one place - in fact, it can be seen on a doplar radar! Ain't that something!?
     
  19. TimK

    TimK

    Apr 17, 2006
    Hong Kong, China
    Looks like you were having fun, Dianne.

    I think you can use the flash on the body as master and SB800 as slave. That'll give you the flexibility you need.