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Tern in flight

Discussion in 'Birds' started by Gordon Large, Aug 23, 2005.

  1. Gordon Large

    Gordon Large Guest

    Hi folks -

    This image is a landmark for me. Before now, I've used big glass on a Wimberley rig to capture big birds which fly in straight lines, but I've never captured a bird like a tern - fairly small, fast, sudden and erratic turns, etc.
    I got this fellow on Stone Harber Point (NJ) yesterday using my 200-400VR cranked back to 200 with a TC-1.7 mounted on my D2x. I pulled back to 200 to increase my chances of getting and keeping the bird in my viewfinder. I'm guessing this is a Common Tern; confirmation of ID requested.

    I got a bunch of good images on this trip which I'll post over the next few days as I process them.


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  2. HarryB


    Jan 28, 2005
    Viera, Florida
    Hey Gordon,

    Great capture. Haven't shot terns in flight I know how hard it is to catch those suckers. Outstanding.
  3. It is a nice image Gordon. I do notice some noise in the sky and was wondering what ISO you used.
  4. Flew


    Jan 25, 2005
    Gordon, very nice shot. You are getting there my friend. You should be proud. :wink:
  5. Great shot, those smaller birds are definitely harder to get in good focus, and unless you tried, no one can appreciate :smile: I am still working on that. LOL Keeps us going back for more
  6. Gordon Large

    Gordon Large Guest

    Thanks Harry. Even though I pulled of this and a few other flight shots yesterday, I think I'm going to hand-held for flight in the future. You would have laughed your head off watching me trying to avoid tripping over tripod legs.
  7. Gordon Large

    Gordon Large Guest

    Hi Gordon -
    I shot at 400 and did a quick pass with NeatImage in auto mode. You should have seen the noise before that! I usually don't notice much noise at 400, but then I usually don't take pictures of large areas of uniform color and no texture. I don't hesitate to use 400 with the D2x but I know that sometimes I'll see noise.
  8. Gordon Large

    Gordon Large Guest

    Thanks Frank. I'm glad I'm getting the hang of shots like this with big glass on a Wimberley, I'm also going to start using my 300/4 hand-held on my backup D2h. Or would you like to loan me your 300/2.8???
  9. Gordon Large

    Gordon Large Guest

    Thanks Keith! Getting them in good focus is the least of my problems. I start with trying to get the darned little guys in my viewfinder!

  10. Greg


    Apr 5, 2005
    Fayetteville, TN
    great shot Gordon. My Audubon field guide agrees with you but the Thayer Birding software shows a more pronounced black hood. Doesn't matter to me, still like the shot.

    BTW, If anyone has an interest in the Thayer birding software send me a pm for my comments.
  11. Gordon Large

    Gordon Large Guest

    Thanks Greg. I checked the bunch of field guides I have and darn it it's tough unless the bird in the photo is in the same position as the birds in the guides. PM on its way about the Thayer software.

    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 23, 2005
  12. bfjr

    bfjr Guest

    Good shot Gordon, very good
    I'm lucky to be able to shot them a lot, and have only a few keepers to show. Yep there tough and fun :smile:
  13. Lisa


    May 3, 2005

    Terns are so difficult to photograph, let alone in flight :eek:  I saw quite a few while in MN a few weeks back and I all but gave up. I know what you mean about getting them in the viewfinder as they sure present quite the challenge.
  14. jfenton


    Jan 26, 2005
    Haverhill, MA

    The shot is pretty noisy for an ISO 400 shot from the X.
    I routinely shoot flight shots at 400-640 on mine and don't see noise such as what you're experiencing.

    Was this a really intense crop of a larger image or did you have to apply lots of sharpening?

    At ISO 400, unless you really underexpose a shot, you shouldn't see noise like this. Even if you used a fair bit of -EV to hold the white in the birds chest, I don't understand the noise in the light colored body and wings of the bird itself?

  15. Gordon Large

    Gordon Large Guest

    Thanks Ben. I am absolutely not going to tell anyone how many shots I took to get this and one or two other keepers. But then I'm ecstatic about getting any. :smile: :smile: :smile:

  16. Gordon Large

    Gordon Large Guest

    But it sure is fun to try! :smile: :smile: As I've been told by many folks, all it takes is practice, practice and more practice. At the rate of progress I'm making check back for better images in, say, another six months??? :wink:

  17. Gordon Large

    Gordon Large Guest

    Hi Jim -

    I agree - this image is noisier than I would like or expect from a D2x. I've taken lots of shots at ISO 400 and gotten much better results. I think you have identified the two contibuting factors. This is a very large crop - the crop contains only 2.3MP, 19% of the D2x sensor. If I had racked the 200-400 out to 400, I could have used a much smaller crop. But I wouldn't have captured the image!

    Also I underexposed by a full stop. I did run the image through Neat Image, but used the auto mode, and I suspect more sophisticated use of NI or some other noise reducer would help. Out of curiosity, do you have a preference for a noise reduction tool?

    I did all sharpening in Capture using settings of 75,5,5 which has always given me pretty good results. I don't think that was part of the problem


  18. Gordon, thats a good tern shot. I truly know how difficult terns can be. I spent close to 6 hours earlier this summer standing in ankle deep water in a wetland trying to capture a decent shot of a black tern. I think I took over 200 shots and I didn't get a really decent shot out of the lot. They move so fast - especially when they have a nest nearby.
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