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Photographing Birds

Discussion in 'General Technical Discussion' started by gt6jim, Apr 26, 2007.

  1. gt6jim


    Feb 15, 2007
    Worcester, UK
    Hello All,

    I wonder if any of you can help.
    I like to photograph birds, however in the UK most are of the small, fast moving and easily scared variety.
    To get a picture with any sort of resolution I need to shoot at 300mm.

    However on most days, especially the bright days, the ambient light illuminates the bird fine, but the detail and face is often dark or under exposed.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    The above shows what I mean, there was lots of light that day, but the exposure on the detail is poor.

    I guess some people use a fill flash wirelessly, but sometimes this isn't possible!


    This looks like a flash has been used?

    Any tips, tricks or ideas?
  2. gt6jim


    Feb 15, 2007
    Worcester, UK
    Oooooooo! Could be just the thing!
    Thanks Sean, will investigate!
  3. gt6jim


    Feb 15, 2007
    Worcester, UK
    I've been checking this out.
    The Better Beamer is not available in the UK and they don't ship either.

    Does anyone know of an alternative?

    Any Brits here know of a UK stockist!?

    Cheers, Jim
  4. You might post a WTB notice for one in the for sale forum if no one in the UK carries them - maybe someone is selling one on Ebay.co.uk?

    Good luck!
  5. Try to get the sun at your back. That will generally brighten up the face and put a catch light in the eye.
  6. I can recommend Speed Graphic. They carry a very interesting range of kit and give good service.
    But I think part of the answer is better exposure. The sky is very grey on this shot, probably because the meter assumes that it's mid-grey. If you had dialled in some overexposure (perhaps +0.7 or +1) the sky would look lighter and you would have more detail in your goldfinch.

  7. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    I think you need to let your subject be closer. Little birds are a tough shoot. Need good light also
    Long fast glass
  8. gt6jim


    Feb 15, 2007
    Worcester, UK
    Brian, thanks just what I needed.

    Alan, Thanks! I usually try not to shoot against the sky, as it doesn't always make for fantastic images, but this Finch was teasing on a wire out my window, so I had to!:biggrin:

    Gale, Have PM'd you my address, If you can send over you 70-200 as soon as, I'll have it back in no time :wink: :wink: :wink:

    f5.6 minimum on the 70-300 is fairly limiting, but on most days the camera will set around 1/500 which if I fire off a barage I can usually get a fairly well frozen birdie, but yeah I could do with at least 1/1000 for most of these birds!
  9. Well, you have less control then in the studio. :rolleyes:  However, light behind you does make a big difference.

    I know what you mean about the sky, but if you get close a background can be distracting. Also, if the bird is flying a sky background makes it easier to keep the bird in focus.
  10. jfenton


    Jan 26, 2005
    Haverhill, MA

    The image is grossly underexposed, both for subject and the sky.

    Add the proper amount of EV compensation and the details will be much better...they are simply buried in shadow presently.

    I don't think that the other image you posted was sahot with flash......the catchlight in the eye is too round for flash.

    It apears as though it was front lit in nice, warm lighting conditions.

    I do use the Better Beamer very sparingly....only when it makes the difference between getting a shot and not getting it. Personally, I can't stand flash illumination on my avian images.
  11. debult


    Jun 11, 2005
    The Netherlands
  12. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    I don't have good fast longggggg lenses

    I use a 80-400 vr with 1.4 tc...
    When I lose light, i quit shooting.
    I have to follow the light.
    I do not have a sb800 and Better Beamer.

    I very rarely see a small bird close enough to shoot. I have maybe 6 and thats about it.

    I have set up a feeder but , tough conditions around where it is. Fun to feed and see the birds though
    Apt living is not fun for little birds.
  13. gt6jim


    Feb 15, 2007
    Worcester, UK
    Jim, thanks for the tips, I will have to whack on the EV next time

    thanks for the links debult.

    Im back home this weekend, so I'll get out in the garden and see what we can see!
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