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18/06/2011 - 12:20 PM

Snowy Egret in Mallorca

Snowy Egret in MallorcaHi Mike, whether the image works or not is down to does it represent what you wanted to capture?

For me personally I would go for a slower shutter speed, but that is because I like some movement in the wings if possible on a shot. Why? Well for me I never like my images to look like I could cut and paste the bird on to another background. Blurring the wings for me appears to "anchor" the bird in to the image. I suppose it is comparable to taking pictures of prop driven planes and showing the props as completely static. The dynamic aspect of the image is lost. Or motorsport images where the wheels and spokes are completely frozen.

Of course the slower the shutter speed the harder the shot as you will need to match your panning of the bird to the effect that you are striving for.

That said, of course, the initial aim has to be a sharp shot. From there your technique can be adapted to achieve different results such as the wing blur.

25/04/2011 - 1:47 PM

Students' Down Time

Students' Down TimeA good people study here.

For me there are two separate images created by the way the people are looking.

Cropping at the column's left hand side leaves the three guys all looking right. Meanwhile to the left of the image are the two sat together. For me the two separate images are stronger than the whole.

Not easy with multiple people in the frame to find the strongest composition and I do like the image as is, but like all photography sometimes the image taken is not the one that appeals to the viewer.
20/03/2011 - 3:11 PM


MerlinHi Keith, having attended a very similar session if I may I will add some critique.

The idea with the shot is to use the heather to obscure the perch on which the merlin is sitting. I have not uploaded one from this year, but LeeFisher who has voted on this has, so if you follow this link you can see the difference that this makes to the final shot. Clearly the light on the two days was different, but you get the idea.

Here's a link to one from last year where the perch is just about visible.

I know when there are 10-12 people taking a similar shot that finding a good line can be difficult, but I am not sure if you were aware of the intended result or not.

If there were a little more heather in the bottom left then the image would work better, but as it is at the moment the eye is drawn down and out of the bottom left of the shot.

16/01/2011 - 11:27 AM

Another substitute

Another substituteLooks like the focus is slightly on the back of the bird rather than the eye, but now we've discussed how to manage this using off-centre focus points I expect to see an improvement next time Wink

The post is horrible, but that is the fault of the committee at Brandon who refuse to replace it with anything more photogenic. At least there was no bright light which tends to make it bleach out as it is so worn and pale.
10/01/2011 - 7:42 PM

Not The Coppice

Not The CoppiceI know that bird. You did well to get a diffused background, quite often it is a very narrow angle that is available to not have the reeds showing. Obviously you went when it was not too busy.

Looks a little flat on my iPad, but it is not the best for making these decisions. From this view it looks like a slight dodge on the head may make it stand out more.
30/12/2010 - 7:04 PM

NUTHATCH on Berries

NUTHATCH on BerriesI'd be interested to see the original image rather than the square crop.

I do like it, but maybe the angle of the branch just makes the composition more difficult to nail. It is tempting to try to place the branch corner to corner, but unless the bird is of the right size and lands on the exact part envisioned then it becomes difficult to get the image.

Perhaps a less steep angle would allow for the full-frame version, with the crop as an alternative. And just to be different I prefer V2.
30/12/2010 - 5:43 PM

New Born

New BornJust checked it against the old version Geoff and I think I prefer it with the top lighter portion cropped off, though the lighter background on this version works well.

A case of six of one...

24/08/2010 - 8:26 PM

Purple perspex

Purple perspexHi Angi, purple is probably a bit much for me Wink

But what I wanted to say is that these need a slight rotation to level up the image and reflection. Easiest way is to use the ruler tool in PS, draw a line between the highlight in the eye on the frog and the matching one in the reflection. In this image it gives a rotation of approx 3 degrees!

At the moment I find myself wanting to correct the slope, and yes I know many will not even see it Grin
01/08/2010 - 4:01 PM

At the races, part I

At the races, part IGood action shot, were it mine I'd be tempted to crop a litle from the top to lose the rail from the bg.
26/07/2010 - 5:19 PM

The Swoop

The SwoopSomething not quite right with the white under the wing here Jonah, they have taken on a very grey and flat appearance as if you have tried in some way to bring back the exposure.

If you do need to bring back an area of white it needs to be done very carefully and really only to the least amount that makes the image "acceptable". If you push beyond this then you get these sorts of tell-tale signs.

That said I know how difficult the exposure was, and especially when there was a large amount of white showing, which was made doubly worse when the area of background was particularly dark.

Not sure from what I saw on the back of your camera that you are making the most of these shots with your post-processing. I'd be happy to process one of your choosing and see what I can do with it, given that I apply very little processing to my own shots it would be interesting to see if it makes any difference.

Anyway a vote for capturing the moment, the technical side in camera and post are much easier to learn than the anticipation to press the shutter at the right moment.
22/07/2010 - 10:52 AM


CatchClipped wings don't really work in the composition Jonah, either crop in more tightly or show the full expanse of the bird.

If you did crop in on this shot it would be better to place the bird slightly off centre to the lhs because of the way she is looking.

You still did well to get this at all, but as I said it is still down to presentation. You have to make the best of the shots that you have and if you do decide to crop the decision is not always simple. Think about composition, think about the casual viewer and what they want to see.

As I said I enjoyed meeting you and I know you have some great shots, so just think about the composition, final presentation is everything.
29/06/2010 - 9:05 PM


LibertyI know that bird, Miles Herbert's best friend!

Good one Luke. If you were inclined to do some ps work on it then selecting the right hand side of the bg and making it a closer tone to the birds body could have an interesting effect on the impact, thus making the white of the head really stand out. Just a thought, not tried it, but could work.
08/05/2010 - 4:02 PM

Purple Breeze

Purple BreezeCan I be ultra picky? As usual I hear Janet cry.

I love everything except...

The pattern in the curtain being exactly at the end of the petal. I know, I know perfection and all that, but in a still life it is the small details that make a difference.

So just a 9.5/10 from me Grin

I know what you're going to say, you never noticed that until I mentioned it.
19/03/2010 - 1:53 PM

Blue Tit

Blue TitThe problem is David that often the settings can be misleading. I shoot a lot of my images at f/4, but it is not something I would recommend unless you have top quality glass. I also shoot quite often at slow shutter speeds, e.g. 1/40th or 1/60th for the squirrels, but I understand and use correct technique to make this work. This is much slower than should be recommended for a focal length of 300mm say, so would set the wrong expectation.

I think if I did post my settings more often than not then I would do more harm than good if people tried to emulate them. A case of do as I say not as I do.

Thanks all.
06/11/2009 - 8:00 AM

They're back! :)

They're back! :)Tis a little grainy in the large version, one of the downsides of e2 as no one would notice at the smaller size.

It can happen if the image was slightly underexposed and you brougt back the exposure after shooting and will be exaggerated as you have probably cropped in a fair bit to get this close.
04/11/2009 - 5:20 PM


RainbowGetting a few stray marks on v2 Jonah.

Generally you need to use fresh water for each session. Air bubbles start to form and they catch the flash light and show as what looks like dust bunnies, even though they are not in camera. Also as the water picks up some debris from the air it starts to form unwanted bubbles on the surface as each drop hits.

No need to waste the water though I siphon mine off with a fish-tank siphon and use it to water plants around the house.
28/10/2009 - 10:28 PM

Water Drop

Water DropThe reflection has nothing to do with how the drop is delivered. It is simply that the main lighting must come from behind the drop, usually by reflecting the flash off the background. The colour of the background then also becomes the colour that the water shows.

Collisions are to do with two drops being released in quick succession. There is an article on the strobist site that refers to the plastic bag technique that I sent to Jonah the other day here . By following the other links on the page you will find more info.

The use of the flashgun to record the drop is the best way. If you take a look at Kev Lewis stuff he is using a shutter speed of 1/20th and the flash output at 1/128 on two flashguns. I tend to use 1/60 and output of 1/32 or 1/64.

I did publish a link where it showed the equivalent shutter speed that reducing the flash output equates to. Try searching for your flashgun and flash duration, so SB-800 flash duration will link to a table similar to this

* 1/1050 sec. at M 1/1 (full) output
* 1/1100 sec. at M 1/2 output
* 1/2700 sec. at M 1/4 output
* 1/5900 sec. at M 1/8 output
* 1/10900 sec. at M 1/16 output
* 1/17800 sec. at M 1/32 output
* 1/32300 sec. at M 1/64 output
* 1/41600 sec. at M 1/128 output

So this means an effective speed that is much faster than can be achieved by shutter speed alone.

Not around much for next few days but as I have with Jonah I will try to answer any questions.
27/09/2009 - 6:45 PM

blue tit

blue titBlue tit is good, but it you view this with either a white or black border you will see that it pops off the screen more. Self-coloured borders visually bleed the colour from the image, giving it a slight desaturated or flat look.
08/09/2009 - 6:32 PM

Fungi 1

Fungi 1Looks like you had good conditions here Stewart, but definitely more DOF required. As I know you have already seen, but for those that don't visit the forums, as well as using a smaller aperture also check out focus stacking.

I have an article ready to upload on my website using a bland subject, but was waiting for the opportunity to do it on something more representative of a real-world situation. So in the meantime Google is your friend. There are a couple of free programs out there, one even works with RAW files.

Generally you take 3 or more exposures varying the focus slightly at say f/8, in this case by millimetres, and then the software (you can do it manually) uses the in-focus parts and leaves the background soft, but more of the shroom in focus.
24/07/2009 - 6:12 PM

The Agronomist

The AgronomistWell I like the use of a quirky angle, but I'm afraid your expression looks a little like you are constipated Wink Grin

That's a shame really because apart from the expression I think it is a really creative and good self-portrait. I know if you are anything like me in front of the camera then trying to find a natural expression is difficult and the harder you try to relax the worse the expression appears when committed to memory card.

The fact that it shows us your work as well as you is a good angle (pardon the pun). Mind you for me who wants to see another computer screen. I did think about that, but "shyed" away Wink