Back Modifications (2)
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Urban fox in the sun

By Roy_Perryman  
Quick photo from my bedroom of an urban fox taking in the morning sun. I am trying to capture the sleepy nature of this animal after a night out on the town. I am just coming back to photography after a while and trying to improve my technique, I would have liked to blow out the background a bit but failed.

Tags: Landscape Urban fox Wildlife and nature Animals and wildlife

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Buffalo_Tom Plus
14 2.3k 16 Wales
25 Jan 2021 7:12PM
If you set your F Number at 5 and focus on the foxes eyes you will still get details on the face and body and the back ground will automatically blur. The smaller the F Number the more the background will blur but you will lose details on the Fox. Also at F5 some of the foreground will lose details also but that is depending on what you want from the picture. If possible focus more on the Fox to lose some of the foreground. Try a faster shutter speed slightly to darken the image but that can be dome in Photo Shop during processing. I would also crop the blue sky out of the image as that distracts your eye away from the Fox. Perhaps make the picture a square format.
Hope this helps.
banehawi Plus
16 2.4k 4231 Canada
25 Jan 2021 7:23PM
From the camera data visible when I download the image, you used a Nikon Z50 APS-C camera.

The effective focal length was the 375mm, so that shutter speed is much too slow to capture an animal that can move even a tiny amount. The VR reduces camera shake, not subject movement.

Using f/6,3 you could have shot at 1/400th with no issues. Using M mode, the exposure compensation usually wont have any effect.

There may be detail that can be extracted in post processing, - I will try a mod and return.


banehawi Plus
16 2.4k 4231 Canada
25 Jan 2021 7:40PM
Ive uploaded a mod with a square crop. Though you had the eye on a third, it mat look better with more space on the right, less on the left.

Using contrast and highlights reduction I was able to give the face a little more weight, nd detail. Its also sharpened a little.

Hope this is helpful


dark_lord Plus
17 2.8k 767 England
25 Jan 2021 9:01PM
Welcome back Roy.

When you said 'blow out' the background I thought you were talking exposure (usually what the term refer to) until I read Tom's comment and considered you may mean getting a degree of blur.
It won't be exposure then as the background is dark
So for a sofer background I wouldn't have used f/13. I can see the logic of that in terms of sufficient depth of field to cover the subject but here f/8 would be sufficient. A furhter benefit of the wider aperture would be a more anti-movement friendly faster shutter speed. You could even go to ISO 400 without affecting image quality. Put together you'd be at around 1/500. As Willie points out, VR is ok to avoid movement of you and your camera, but has no effect unfortunately of keeping your subject still.
25 Jan 2021 10:49PM
Thanks to you all for your help, I will keep practicing, thanks again.Roy
pamelajean Plus
15 1.5k 2214 United Kingdom
26 Jan 2021 1:26PM
Hello, Roy.

The first thing I noticed when viewing this image was the plant in front of the fox's nose, which in a way is quite endearing because it could be thought that he is having a sniff of it. Anyway, Willie has addressed that in his modification, and removed it.

As to the modification, I like it a lot. Willie has cropped the left side, and left space in front of the fox, which is the ideal composition. Most of what is on the left of your frame is "dead" space, having no purpose at all.

I see nothing wrong with your background. What IS there is not distracting and, after the crop, there is of course less of it to be concerned about. I also like the detail in the plant as well as the detail in the fox's face. He really does look tired, so you succeeded there. You had some lovely light on your subject, and that gives it a lot of impact.

dudler Plus
17 1.6k 1840 England
26 Jan 2021 1:45PM
Good picture, plenty of good advice, and an additional thought.

Using a wider aperture (hence lower number, such as f/5 rather than f/13) will not only give you shallower depth of field as Tom points out, but will also give you a higher shutter speed, countering camera shake and also, importantly, subject movement.

Using a 250mm lens on a Z50 gives a full-frame equivalent of around 375mm, and that's a long lens to be using at 1/125 shutter speed, even with image stabilisation. A tripod will address camera movement - but animals can move fast. Even at rest, whiskers may tremble...

Because your lens's maximum aperture varies as you zoom in, f/6.3 is the widest the lens will go - but even that would allow 1/500 second, which is starting to be the right territory for the shot.

However, you were lucky - worth considering for next time, though. As is the fact that a wider aperture makes getting a focus point spot on the eye vital: generally, the nearer eye should be pinsharp.
26 Jan 2021 6:05PM
Thank you all again for the help, next time he appears I will try again. Thanks, Roy
chase Plus
15 2.1k 562 England
27 Jan 2021 10:15AM
Hi Roy,
I am late to this but, better late than never.
From your description I guess you wanted to blur the surroundings whilst keeping your subject in focus.
I did a mod which demonstrates the blur you may have wanted, bur much better to do this in camera with a much wider aperture and therefore a faster shutter speed as has been suggested.
Therefore my mod is simply an example of what you may have achieved in camera.
I used Willies mod as I do like the increased space in front of the Fox and the square crop.

mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.8k 2403 United Kingdom
27 Jan 2021 10:34AM
I'm late here, and I'm not a wildlifer, but I'm going to make one further point. My understanding of your use of 'blow out the background' is that you wanted it soft, and as mentioned by others that needs a large aperture, low F number.

BUT... Remember that you only get half the depth of field in front of where you focus compared with behind. You have a fair amount of foliage in front of the fox, a large aperture will soften that more effectively than the background, and long focal length will exaggerate that difference. And foreground blur can be really distracting for the viewer because we are looking through it.

I wouldn't want to go larger than F/8 here, that would still allow a better shutter speed but I'd be happy to increase ISO to get to 1/500 second. Photography generally involves compromises, it's like juggling three balls and trying to keep them all in the air...

Just further thoughts to consider... You are lucky if it is a regular visitor.
27 Jan 2021 6:19PM
Thanks again for all the comments, all valuable information to help me grow ...... hopefullyWink
dudler Plus
17 1.6k 1840 England
27 Jan 2021 6:32PM
Roy - the big thing is to keep shooting, every day, until your camera is an extension of your hands and brain...

That way, you will improve. But there may be some hard yards along the way.
7 Feb 2021 6:16PM
Thanks for this with lockdown I am trying to find some interesting things to photograph, enjoying the process.
dudler Plus
17 1.6k 1840 England
8 Feb 2021 3:49PM
For me, one of the important things with new ideas, new kit and new processes is to try them out with relatively uninteresting things in the viewfinder. For instance, it would be awful, from my point of view, to go along to something that I have paid money for with a new camera and lens that I hadn't tried out and found all the controls on.

One of my worst photographic experiences ever was to take a friend who was an experienced photographer in other fields to a studio to find that he couldn't make the appropriate settings for ISO, white balance, shutter speed and aperture without asking me to go deep into the menus of his camera, which was a different brand from mine. Canon DSLRs continue to make me queasy to this day as a result...

A walk round the block photographing manhole covers will exercise your camera and legs equally - try that with a new mode, perhaps, or a different lens.Then, when you come to use it for real, you will have learnt at least a few of the quirks and peculiarities...

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