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06/02/2012 - 3:57 PM


GOLDIE 2Excellent shot, but, in spite of all the foregoing comments, I feel it is not as sharp as it could be with this camera-lens combination.

May I suggest that you ditch the teleconverter, they do nothing at all for image quality - just give you a bigger image that is probably not as good a one taken without, enlarged to the same size and cropped. You've got 18Mpx to play with so there's no shortage of resolution.

ISO 1000, f5.6 and 1/640th - are you sure about that? Must have been a very dark day.

How about dropping the ISO, your camera's noise rises quite noticeably beyond ISO400, and if the light will allow stopping down to f8 or f11 - this lens can take it. That'll bring you down to around 1/250th which should be fast enough for a goldfinch as they tend to stay reasonably still when perched or eating. Using RAW you can always crank the exposure back up again later in post processing without any of the grim penatlies of a high ISO.

This should give you a very much improved image with needle sharp focus from the tip of the tail to tip of the beak. It would also resolve a little more of the background which is a bit amorphous at the moment.

In short, a fine image that deserves a little more detail.
30/01/2012 - 5:36 PM


Coppice CCCXVIIIDo you permit a little post-processing of your images? If so, a couple of little tweeks will really lift this one. Firstly, I can't help feeling a little catch-light in the eye would help give the bird some extra "life". The other possible enhancement would be to shift the background colour a little towards the red end. At the moment the back and maybe the breast feathers are somewhat lost against esentially a similar tone. Not too much mind you, since the present yellowish hue contrasts with the blue and so is an essential element that needs to be preserved. I also can't help feeling that some suggestion of the background detail would have helped a bit - just a few darker patches or vague broad lines to hint at the environment.

The truth is, it's a fundamentally very good image of which I am quite jealous, so I am probably just nit-picking to make myself feel better. I have been trying to capture these little chaps for a while and until one tries to take a shot like this one has no idea how quick and active they are. Anything under 1/1,000th is a complete waste of time so I am very impressed that you got away with a lens maxing out at f5.6.
25/01/2012 - 7:31 PM

Little lady, guarding her home

Little lady, guarding her homeOne of the tricks I have started to use, and you can certainly do this with the 550D, is set the camera to a high ISO and a high shutter speed (1/1,000 sec is about right) and also the highest burst rate. Manual focus and f5.6. Approach the little critter really slowly until the rearmost part (or even the deepest background in a shot like this) is in sharp focus. Hit the button and back away very slowly until the front part has gone through and out of focus. Then edit out the totally unfocused images and blend the remainder together in a focus stacking program like "Zerene Stacker" (free trial and then costs next to nothing). The results can be amazing, especially when using a long macro lens really close-up. And, of course, you can isolate and selectively focus by taking some of the frames out before stacking.

Why f5.6? Because there is hardly a lens made that is not sharpest at f5.6 and using this technique you don't have to strive for a great depth of field in every frame.

Just imagine how this image would look with the front legs fully in focus too.