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21/06/2008 - 10:38 PM

Back Off!

Back Off!Great shot, beautifully timed. I'd agree with the earlier comment about a square crop though. As an image to stand on its own, I'd lose most of the space on the left. However, if it was to be used in a publication and some text was to overlay the image, it would be absolutely perfect as is.

The only other thing I can think of that you could possibly have done to improve this shot would have been some fill-in flash to light the inside of the.... actually what do you call it... mouth? beak? throat? Well, I'm sure you know what I mean. I'm not a fan of flash but having seen the result for a similar shot (of a puffin) by a photographer whose work I greatly admire, it's made me think. I stil don't carry a flash though, LOL!

All in all, an excellent shot and my comments are in no way meant to criticise it. I'm impressed.
21/06/2008 - 12:23 PM

who you looking at

who you looking atI wasn't sure from your comment if you are a beginner in photography or a beginner in bird/wildlife photography. Either way you've produce a very competent image, well exposed and nicely lit, in spite of it being a sunny day. (I say "in spite of" because harsh sunlight can make things difficult - the low sun at either end of the day usually gives more pleasing results.) You have caught a highlight in the eye, which is often regarded as important to have, and certainly is for a head shot such as this. Also you've used a wide aperture which means the background is nicely out of focus, a very good thing on all but rare occasions.

I'd agree with phillips' comment about cropping it a little at the left. Your composition is a bit too central for comfort. A very good photographer once said to me, "It's not just what you put in your photograph that's important, it's also what you leave out" and that's excellent advice. It also pays to cast your eye quickly around the very edge of the shot to see what's in, out, or half in or out :o) In most cases, try not to put the main subject smack in the middle - that's seldom as interesting to look at as when the subject is offset.

As pamelajean has said, it IS simply a photograph of the head of a goose and, however competent, will be looked upon as a "record" shot. (That dreaded phrase, "It's a good record shot" - how many times have we heard that and gnashed our teeth?) Often what is meant by calling something a record shot is that it is technically good but lacks that "X-factor" to give it a bit more interest. It is inevitably much harder to get those X-factor shots and they generally require a large amount of time and patience to find. In the case of bird photography it might mean catching the bird(s) during a mating ritual, or feeding their chicks, or something that bit more unusual. However, that's pretty advanced stuff, and believe me, most if not all photographers who eventually achieve that will have started with something very much like your shot, so do not be at all discouraged!

If you are trying to produce a wildlife or nature shot, do not fall into the trap that some do of over-sharpening it or applying some kind of Photoshop filter. Leave that sort of thing for fine art images. If that's what you prefer to do then fine, go for it, but for true wildife photography you want to make it look as natural as possible and to give an impression of the proper surroundings, just as you have done. Note I said "an impression": that does not mean showing the surroundings in utter clarity. What it does mean is that the bird appears to be in its natural surroundings, preferably with those surroundings outside the range of sharp focus produced by your lens. That way the bird (for example) is in sharp focus and its surroundings are blurry, so attention is on the bird. Also it would mean that the bird is sat on a twig, on the ground, or, if you're being more adventurous, is flying, rather than sitting on a bird feeder.

I've said rather a lot but I hope some of it will be of use and perhaps also have given you some ideas you'd like to try. My apologies if you already knew all this stuff! Most importantly though, get out there and have a go, as that's how we all started!
20/06/2008 - 11:11 PM

2x Extender

2x ExtenderI have both the 1.5x and 2x Kenko extenders, and even though I've used both quite a bit, and have even tried doubling them up to make things as horrible as possible, the jury is still out on whether I'm satisfied (as opposed to happy) with them. In some circumstances I've achieved fairly sharp images (I'm very fussy about sharpness) but in others I've found the results to be unacceptably soft. I think, sometimes, it might be a DoF or focal plane issue, though it might simply be the longer focal length making it harder to keep the camera steady enough. However, I often shoot at very high shutter speeds (1/2000th or faster) so I don't believe it's camera shake.

There is no doubt whatsoever that an extender does dull the ultimate sharpness - I don't think anyone experienced would argue about that. That being so, the better the bare lens is, the better chance of you getting an acceptable result with an extender. I've seen absolutely cracking pin-sharp results with a 2x extender on a Canon 500/f4 lens (though admittedly it was the Canon extender).

I'd expect contrast to be affected but that's usually easily recoverable in PS later so you can safely ignore that. Looking closely at your results, I can't see anything so severe I'd worry about it. The head looks just a little short of pin-sharp but there's some nice sharp-looking detail in the plumage. Judging by the rock below, I'd say you've got a very short DoF with the focal plane perhaps just an inch or two too close to camera to have got the head absolutely pin-sharp. That's how it looks to me anyway.

By the way, please ignore some of the rubbish that is spewed out by people about extenders turning, for example, an f4 lens into an f8. They do not!!! Let me explain. What they actually do is to lose you about 2 stops of light (for a 2x extender). Now, that could be two exposure stops but it could equally be 2 shutter speed stops. Both reduce the amount of light reaching the camera sensor by about 2 stops, and that's the important factor. The characteristics of the lens remain unaltered. The extender is little more than a slightly sophisitcated magnifying glass that sits between the lens and the camera body. The image that the lens produces (complete with the effect of the f-stop you've used) is magnified before it lands on the camera's sensor (or film, for those who remember the stuff). Assuming that you do not alter the aperture, the distance over which the image is in sharp focus will remain as it was for the lens before the extender was inserted.

Now, I daresay some optical physicist will roll up and tell me I'm talking rubbish!!!

I hope that's been of some help and reassurance.
20/06/2008 - 10:24 PM

Rally Clinic

Rally ClinicHaving seen your other rally post first, I had to have a close look at this one too :o)

This time you seem to have the focus (or what we'll call the "panning-point" for lack of a better phrase) at the front of the car. Is that better than on the windscreen & driver? I don't know, maybe that's a personal preference thing. Both work well in conveying a sense of movement and speed, and your shutter speed looks good from the point of view of successfully getting motion blur into the background.

As regards framing, i'd have liked to have seen just a little more space at the rear of the car, though not much - you wouldn't be able to get much more at that angle anyway! The slightly elavated shooting position has given a nice set of diagonals - road & car - and transformed it from being a rather more boring "straight side-on" shot.

Overall I like it, and if I were you I'd not be too discouraged about trying some more, though a venue with something a bit more dramatic in the way of corners or jumps would certainly spice things up a bit :o)
20/06/2008 - 10:14 PM


DustyI've thought about it further and I think I'm getting my head around krimage's comment now. Although, physically, the whole car is moving at the same speed, because the car is moving both across and towards you, those parts closer to you will cover a large distance in the 2-dimensional plane than the parts that are further away (in much the same way that objects closer appear larger than objects farther away). However, i'd think that you must have been on quite a slow shutter speed for that to become obvious. If your 70-200 is the IS version then perhaps you've been able to eliminate camera shake with the IS at a slower shutter speed, hence the motion blur. Having said that, your panning technique must be very good indeed to have got shut a pin-sharp image at any point on the car, so although you might be disappointed with some aspects of the shot, you ought to be pleased with the panning at least!

Aside from ALL that, I do like the effect! It certainly has managed to convey a sense of speed and movement, and because the most important part of the car is sharp, this works well. Perhaps you ought to make this a speciality, a personal style if you like!!!