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By Madoldie
Taken while out in Port Issac this afternoon.

Tags: Flying Flight Bird Sea Seagull Wildlife and nature

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banehawi Plus
18 2.7k 4314 Canada
13 Jun 2017 10:09PM
So Mat, lets try this; you critique this first, then we will add our bit. I would love to see what you think of it, and how you see it first!


debu 12 India
14 Jun 2017 1:55AM
Superb in flight captured.
dudler Plus
19 1.9k 1947 England
14 Jun 2017 7:39AM
I like Willie's idea... Are you happy with this? What's good, what could be better?
paulbroad Plus
15 131 1294 United Kingdom
14 Jun 2017 1:32PM
The crop is original - was it force put? Might be a bit too much. I know what Willie is trying here and I suspect you possibly need a touch of self analysis. This needs to be sharper on the bird. The eye, even in a flying shot, needs to be sharp and I suspect a focusing issue.

Madoldie 8 586 United Kingdom
14 Jun 2017 5:20PM
Okay guys, lets have a go at this.
Overall I'm pleased with the actual outcome of this photograph, cropped tight using a sort of letterbox crop making the bird seem closer and removing a lot of the blue from the sea and sky, so that the focus is on the bird.
As Paul says the focus on the birds eye is not sharp but the beak is, would changing the aperture help here?
I think that using shutter priority was the right choice, increasing the ISO to 400 for this type of movement works as any noise could be reduced in the editing process.
The focusing to the critical eye lets the photograph down, other than that I think it's one of the best seagull photograph that I've seen, then again I'm biased as it's my photograph.
Just messing around look forward to what you guys think, thanks for you're time.
All the best ,
paulbroad Plus
15 131 1294 United Kingdom
14 Jun 2017 7:45PM
If you enlarge the image you will see the beak is no sharper than the eye. They are both pretty well in the same plane. To be fair, it's not a bad image by many standards but, at the risk of blowing my own trumpet, have a look at my shot of a young herring gull flying over the waves to see what I am trying to say.

Madoldie 8 586 United Kingdom
14 Jun 2017 8:59PM
Hey Paul checked the photograph of the Herring gull and see what you mean about focus, I'm trying but hopefully this will come with practice.
banehawi Plus
18 2.7k 4314 Canada
15 Jun 2017 12:54AM
Excellent Mat, thanks for doing this.

Also thanks for the original, its a big help.

So youve learned that cropping tight can cause what appears to be a fairly sharp eye/head in the original, to be not quite so sharp/focused.

It may well be the best seagull shot youve done, and thats great; now you can do a lot better with some practice. The composition is good, gull flying into the frame.

The settings look fine. Can you tell me about the technique you used to catch the bird, moving in flight? You could point and shoot after getting the bird in the centre; or you could wait for the bird to fly into the frame; or you could pan with the bird and take the shot; or, best of all, you could pan with the bird, tracking it, with the Autofocus mode set to continuous, or tracking, or servo, whatever Nikon call it, with the shutter half pressed; this mages sure you get the best focus the instant you fully press the shutter. Try this last approach if youve havent already, its why this one is not super sharp.

Next, the 105mm lens to too short for this type of shot, unless the bird is way closer; so see it you can get them closer, - usually not hard with seagulls if you have a bag of chips! If you have a 200mm or longer it will work better in terms of your ability to crop and maintain quality.

Your original can be improved if you dont crop as tight. I will upload a mod of the original, not as close, eyes and head sharpened quite a bit.


banehawi Plus
18 2.7k 4314 Canada
15 Jun 2017 1:03AM
Seagulls hover quite nicely, and you can practice with them like this.
dudler Plus
19 1.9k 1947 England
15 Jun 2017 6:22PM
Yes, Matt - you've nailed it.

People who use Nikon cameras for action shots will be the ones to tap for advice on finessing hte focus - this isn't my kind of work, and neither I nor my cameras are suited to it. I suspect that you need to use some sort of tracking focus using a single point, locked onto the eye. There will be a failure rate, even with really good gear, and it's a matter of tilting the odds heavily towards you!

Whenever you aren't absolutely certain of focus, stopping down a fraction (or more than a fraction) gives you headroom. In this case, without a distracting background to lose, you could go on to f/11 very easily, I'd say.

However... I can't say that the wingtips are vastly less sharp than the eye and beak, which surprises me. Camera shake seems unlikely at 105mm and 1/1250, leaving a couple of possibilities. Is this heavily cropped at the sides, as well as top and bottom? Or a significant mismatch between panning speed and the bird's flight. (Or, just maybe, a lens quality issue. There's a limit to everything.)

I really like the crop, too.
dark_lord Plus
18 2.9k 824 England
15 Jun 2017 9:25PM
Cropping close can make for an impressive image.
But it does show up any inaccuracies in technique and means you can't enlarge the result too much, because by cropping in you're already working on an effectively enlarged image.
It's only just out as regards focus. I doubt it's movement either, but it is conceivable even at that speed which again cropping froma small part of the frame will accentuate. If this were a rare bird the this would be acceptable for some, but it isn't so you have to be super critical with your work. Certainly practice will make perfect though even then you'll get a lot you'll delete.
Focus tracking is the AF mode to use.

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