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wildlife photography

brrttpaul 6 234 United Kingdom
4 May 2013 12:22PM
hought I would pose a question to the more skilled wildlife photographers. You get up early its a dull day overcast some rain, you are after an action shot, say a bird in flight in woodlands, you have already adjusted your exposure compensation to the max but you can only get 1/500 of a sec, aperture wide open ISO 1600. Would you up the ISO at the sacrifice of noise or would you lower the shutter speed or even go into one of the camera,s built in programs?. Reason I,m asking is it happened to me this morning, I try to use manual settings as much as possible, but really struggled this morning. Or do you even think its a wasted trip? and try again on a better day?.

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justin c 14 4.9k 36 England
4 May 2013 12:46PM
One of the best pieces of advice that I've ever read is "the secret isn't knowing when to take the shot, but when not to."

In the example you give, it sounds like perhaps a better day may be more productive. But, saying that, there's no harm in trying to get the shot you're after, after all, it's not like you're wasting money on film. If the conditions aren't ideal, then you're bound to get a very low keeper rate, but you only need one decent one to make it worthwhile.
There is no benefit in adjusting exposure compensation, nor is there any benefit in choosing program modes. Whether or not it's worth upping the ISO depends on your camera and how much digital noise you're prepared to accept.
Having the shutter speed below 1/500 sec would really be testing your long lens technique and panning ability to the max. If you're using a full frame camera, then it's possible to get very usable results at ISO 3200 and even ISO 6400, but a lot will depend on the overall scene, getting the exposure just right and your image processing skills.
Shooting birds in flight is tough enough at the best of times, shooting them flying in woodland would be even tougher and shooting them flying in woodland, with low light levels and dull and rainy conditions, sounds like a lesson in frustration. However, you never know and it wouldn't be the first time that an image that you thought wouldn't materialize, actually came out pretty good after all.

Out of interest, what is it you're trying to photograph?
brrttpaul 6 234 United Kingdom
4 May 2013 12:58PM
Well to be honest I was going to go and photograph peregrines in a quarry but the weather was so bad this morning it wernt on. So I went into my local woods there is a spot there that has a bit of a ravine (dark on bright days). But you do see jays, sparrow hawks etc so its a good spot for bird watching. Trouble is you only tend to see them for a second, I have tried using a bird hide but have had more success just creeping along tbh, of course cos im on the move everything changes constantly and thats where im having the problem in finding a happy medium
GarethRobinson 11 1.0k 2 United Kingdom
4 May 2013 1:05PM
up the iso to a level that you no will still retain the level of detail that you are happy with after applying noise reduction. A sharp image with noise is more desirable than a blurred one. I personally only let my iso on my D300 goto iso 1250 when there is lots of shadows / dark areas as I feel I can still get the details I expect. 90% of the time I use auto ISO (max iso of 1250) in manual model, say set my cam for 1/1000th F4 and auto iso and let the camera get on with it, so bright light it will do f4 1/1000th at iso 200 then into the shade it will goto 1250 etc by itself. Not sure if the d3100 has the feature.
justin c 14 4.9k 36 England
4 May 2013 1:15PM
If you're specifically after birds in flight then it may be more productive to try and find a better location with better light levels. It's certainly a very challenging area of wildlife photography, but the more challenging the more rewarding when it all comes together.
Best of luck anyway.
brrttpaul 6 234 United Kingdom
4 May 2013 1:53PM
Thanks guys, plenty of helpfull advice there. That was another thing that played on me a little, the ISO on mine (D3100) only doubles 8 16 32 etc but in auto it will do say 900 for example or 1200, I cant get f4 on my lens cos its the sigma 150-500 so im on about f6 thereabouts. I will have another attempt today and put a photo up later and see how it goes
thx again
GarethRobinson 11 1.0k 2 United Kingdom
4 May 2013 2:01PM
Correct you will see strange ISO settings like 350 etc that only auto ISO can set.
Don't worry about that it's working for you not against.. Tongue
Trev_B 11 151 68 England
4 May 2013 3:16PM
Hi Paul... lots of things are against you shooting the scenario you describe. Apart from all of the other good advice you have received, unless you have a very good handheld technique shooting at 500mm is always going to be a challenge and a minimum shutter speed of 1/650sec will be needed to reduce the chance of camera shake, this will force you into a higher ISO. Having said that if the noise is only noticeable in the background then soften only that in post production and don't add too much sharpening as this will make the noise more evident.

puertouk 6 1.1k 17 United Kingdom
4 May 2013 3:51PM
The way to around something like this is to pan your shot, therefore you should not get camera shake.
Trev_B 11 151 68 England
4 May 2013 4:30PM

Quote:The way to around something like this is to pan your shot, therefore you should not get camera shake.

Sorry Stephen... I can't see how that might stop camera shake...

justin c 14 4.9k 36 England
4 May 2013 4:31PM

Quote:therefore you should not get camera shake.

Camera shake will be just as evident whether you're panning or not, hence the reason a lot of super telephoto lenses have an I.S. Mode 2 specifically for panning, which you will obviously be doing anyway, unless the bird's flying on the spot Wink
Coventryphotog Junior Member 5 149 United Kingdom
4 May 2013 4:40PM
Just because you have a 150-500 lens does not mean you have to shoot at 500mm - reduce focal length (zoom out) and adjust aperture to get the shutter speed you need - up ISO and deal with noise later. With 14 mpix you have plenty to crop into later if using shorter focal lengths.....don't know what the aperture of this thng is at 350-400, but it will be quicker than at 500.

Better still learn fieldcraft and "zoom with your feet" Smile

All wildlife shooting is a balancng act.... Best of luck.
brrttpaul 6 234 United Kingdom
4 May 2013 6:11PM
Ok as it happens went back up to the woods seeing as the sun has just come out, not in flight but really pleased with the Tawny owl I got. putting a photo up now, feel free to comment please
mossy 5 46 1 England
5 May 2013 5:30AM
Just a point, Peregrine are a Schedule 1 protected species, disturbance during the breeding season without a valid license is a offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Schedule 1

Of course the OP may be a license holder, but some may not be aware of the restrictions.
brrttpaul 6 234 United Kingdom
5 May 2013 9:23AM
i think you cant go within a kilometre of the nest knowingly, it is a grey area though really as so is the kingfisher,red kite etc yet we all photograph them, dont get me wrong on this they should be protected and disturbing any nest protected or not should be an offence.

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