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bedtime for the ducklings

By cathsnap
The cute yellow duckling caught my eye so I focused on that one and made that my subject. Not sure if this works or not. The light wasn't the best as it was evening.

Tags: Wildlife bird Wildlife and nature

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dark_lord Plus
17 2.8k 778 England
27 Apr 2014 12:11AM
It was a good idea to focus on the lightest duckling, as the viewer's eye would be drawn to that creature anyway.

However, your careful focussing has been undone by using a slow shutter speed and a long focal length. Even with VR you would be pushing it to be steady, and that's without any subject movement - ducklings ar nearly always on the move. You could have upped your ISO to 400 which would have given a much more helpful 1/60 shutter speed.

I don't know how good your camera is at higher ISO but I would go up ti ISO 800 here and open up the aperture, so you could then shoot at 1/200, and with VR should be able to avoid camera movement. Opening up the aperture half a stop or so won't affect your depth of field much at all (as it's pretty samll anyway) and would even help the subject stand out.

The ducklings are in rather of a huddle, and while I don't blame them, waiting for a moment when one sticks its head up or otherwise stands out in some way from the crowd would result in a very appealing image.

paulbroad 13 131 1293 United Kingdom
27 Apr 2014 7:56AM
Could be great, but it's just not sharp anywhere, and it must be. The 1/15 sec is the culprit, movement of the camera. You needed at least 400 ISO to stand a chance, or greater. VR and the other names for optical stabilisation do not guarantee sharpness, and there was little chance at this focal length and shutter speed. VR helps, but reduces shake proportionally to the amount of shake. It does not prevent it.

mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.9k 2435 United Kingdom
27 Apr 2014 11:08AM
A lovely subject, and you had a good idea here - to get down low to their eye level. I like the contrast of bright eyes and soft down.

I was puzzled for a moment, wondering why it was so soft, then I saw the shutter speed! Even with VR it is safest to work on the reciprocal of focal length x 1.5 for your camera. And don't switch off because that isn't nearly as complicated as it sounds!

Focal length here was 175mm, 175 x 1.5 = 262, so you would want no slower than 1/262 second - in practical terms that means 1/320 or 1/250 if you are careful.

As a broad brush approach, with this lens aim to use no slower than 1/100 second at its widest and 1/320 second at its longest, with a sliding scale in between. Quite simply, the longer the lens, the harder it becomes to hold the camera steadily.

And in any case, 1/15 second would be most unlikely to freeze the chicks' movement.

This is why I do tend to favour shutter priority for live subjects and/or in unfavourable light, you may get the camera set perfectly but then not notice a further dip in the light and find yourself on 1/15 second! Better I reckon to set a sensible shutter speed and watch the aperture that it is giving you - increase ISO as necessary. It's easier to retrieve an underexposed shot than an unsharp one.
27 Apr 2014 8:11PM
Thank you for all those very helpful comments. I swapped back to my kit lens today. But I will have another go, if I can find them and use shutter priority next time. You are sooo... right, those ducklings never keep still even for one second. I had no idea it would be so difficult to take a photo of them!

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