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Thread: Great Blue Heron

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    Default Great Blue Heron

    Nikon d7100, Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary lens, Manual exposure; 1/2500sec, f6.3, 600mm, (auto) ISO 720. Taken mid morning along shoreline of an oxbow in Northern IL.
    Critiques encouraged and welcomed.
    Name:  Great Blue Heron -Trask Bridge.JPG
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    Avian Moderator Tim Foltz's Avatar
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    Hello Vaughn welcome to the forum, the main problem I see with this image is that it is soft, since this GBH isn't in flight you might want to raise
    your f-stop and lower your SS and ISO for better results or you could sharpen in post if possible. Looking forward to seeing more.

    -Tim

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    So by increasing the depth of field you are saying this should sharpen the overall appearance of the image?

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    Avian Moderator Tim Foltz's Avatar
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    Hi Vaughn, increasing the DOF will increase the sharpness. lets say your DOF is only 2 inches at that distance, by using a higher f/stop it might increase to 6 inches.
    Those are just numbers thrown out there. here is a link to a DOF calculator that will give you a better idea on how it works. http://www.photopills.com/calculators/dof
    Choose your camera, settings, etc. to see the differences.
    Good luck.


    -Tim
    Last edited by Tim Foltz; 09-28-2017 at 12:42 AM.

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    Hi Vaughn - thanks for your post and welcome. I'm trying to work out exactly where the focus plane was in this shot. It looks like the water's edge along the bottom of the log is sharpest. This point is somewhat in front of your main subject which does appear quite soft as noted by Tim. Another thing you can try besides increasing the depth of field to to lock focus on a different point. In this case, the bird's head would be a good choice although the neck would be fine too, I think.

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    Glenn; I went back a looked at focus point data on this one and it appears this one was on the bank grass above and to the right. Not sure how or why other than my own jitters when clicking away. I pulled another print from this sequence and noticed the focus point was spot on the head/eye of the bird.
    .Name:  GBH- 2.jpg
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    1/2500, f8, 600mm. 1250 ISO. Slightly higher ISO and f8 instead of f6.3
    Last edited by Vaughn Stamm; 09-30-2017 at 04:47 PM.

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    Vaughn, the bird looks soft in this one too. Looking closely, it seems the sharpest thing in this shot is the log behind the one the bird is on. You will be able to see better going back to the original file and looking at what is sharpest. Given your focus point was on the head in the new image, it may suggest your camera/lens combo is back-focussing. I don't know if micro AF adjustment is available on your D7100. If so, it might be worth investigating.

    Overall the image isn't terribly sharp. Are you doing any sharpening after you downsize your shots for posting to BPN? Doing so it quite important to recover some detail that is lost in the downsizing process. Perhaps you could post a bit more detail about your processing steps and software you are using as that will help with further suggestions.

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    Glenn; I don't typically do much "post processing", not because I am a purest but more that I am not knowledgeable in this area yet. I utilize Photo Scape X Pro for most things I attempt to do for now. I have long questioned why so many of my shots with this camera and lens combo appear soft. I may have to try micro AF adjustment. I also own a d500 but have not tried this lens with this camera. I use to own a d300 and used a different lens and always thought overall most of my photos were sharper than with this d7100. Maybe I will try to pair it with the d500 and give it a go just to see what happens.
    As far as post processing steps I normally crop if needed, sharpen, lighten or darken shadows, adjust contrast, then over all adjustment of lightness and darkness. I just started downsizing the image size for the purpose of posting here and I do that last without any final adjustments.
    Any other suggestions appreciated.

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    Avian Moderator Tim Foltz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn Stamm View Post
    Glenn; I don't typically do much "post processing", not because I am a purest but more that I am not knowledgeable in this area yet. I utilize Photo Scape X Pro for most things I attempt to do for now. I have long questioned why so many of my shots with this camera and lens combo appear soft. I may have to try micro AF adjustment. I also own a d500 but have not tried this lens with this camera. I use to own a d300 and used a different lens and always thought overall most of my photos were sharper than with this d7100. Maybe I will try to pair it with the d500 and give it a go just to see what happens.
    As far as post processing steps I normally crop if needed, sharpen, lighten or darken shadows, adjust contrast, then over all adjustment of lightness and darkness. I just started downsizing the image size for the purpose of posting here and I do that last without any final adjustments.
    Any other suggestions appreciated.
    Vaughn, I would wait on the micro adjustments until you rule out everything else, I've seen more photographers mess things up buy doing this.
    There are so many variables involved, SS, f-stop, focus point, heat waves, condensation in the air, etc. My suggestion is to get familiar with your set up and see how it evolves.

    -Tim

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    Vaughn, your plan to try this on your D500 (which I thought was a better camera?) is a good one. See what that produces. As for micro-AF adjustment, I believe it is more automated on Nikon cameras but I don't know Nikon gear at all. So Tim may well be right that it's possible to mess things up if you aren't careful. One way you can tell if you have a micro-AF adjustment problem is that if some parts of your images are tack sharp but not the bits where the camera had locked focus. That almost certainly suggests front or back focussing. But see how you go with your other camera bodies.

    As mentioned, as final round of modest sharpening is essential after you downsize to recover some detail lost in downsizing. As I don't know the software you are using, I can't make exact recommendations but others may be able to help or you can try experimenting. I've taken the liberty of applying such modest sharpening to your latest post.
    Name:  GBH- 2.jpg
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    Hi Vaughn,

    Welcome to the forum. I have use this camera lens combination D7100 and Sigma 150-600 mm lens. I had mixed results. Specially with this sort of mega zoom you need to check on the lens copy and carefully evaluate them. Some of them should be good, but for other you might need to focus tune them.

    For Post processing, I would recommend you to go for Photoshop cc cloud version. You can try if free for a month and decide if it works for you. Always sharpen on the subject. I do agree that its a bit soft.
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    Hello Vaughn,

    New member here and I'd like to add my 2 cents to see if I could be of some assistance. Down here in Florida the GBH's usually follow a fairly predictable pattern. Each individual bird seems to have his or her favorite areas, and repeatedly comes back to the same spots. In order to photograph that bird with a more pleasing background (less of busy or distracting elements) you may try photographing in late afternoon from the opposite side of the bird. From the pictures, I can't tell which bank of the river is closer to the bird, but getting closer to the subject may help with sharpness, and would also help separate the subject from the background.

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    Hello Vaughn
    Agree with the previous comments. Thanks for posting and keep shooting. This is a great place to learn and a tripod will help too. I would shoot on a tripod if I could will definitely produce more keepers. I like the freedom of hand shooting but in some instances I use the tripod.

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    Kevin; Thanks for the encouragement. Unfortunately I am not always able to have my tripod with me so I am forced to hand hold. Although I must say I am dumbfounded that some of the experts on this site post hand held shots that are sooooo sharp! (So I know its possible to get acceptable shots with hand held).

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    Ok I'll keep this brief, but I switched to a Nikon 200-500 lens and switched to my D500 and I am seeing much better results immediately. I know they say that the equipment does not make a better photographer or a better picture but I am finding that my results would say otherwise!

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    Hi Vaughn, Welcome and thanks for your membership support. Lots of good advice but I need to respectfully disagree with Tim on the depth of field issue. I rarely stop down more than 1/3 stop from wide open and I have made a few sharp images. If you are hand holding, you want more shutter speed not less. In addition, at 600mm, you were plenty far from the bird and if the image were accurately focused then there is more than enough d-o-f as d-o-f increases naturally as the distance to the subject increases. I am looking forward to seeing some images with the new gear.

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    Artie; Just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to respond, and that goes for all of the folks that have already responded as well. I am still in that phase where I am trying to ensure my personal techniques are not the culprit versus a lens issue. I have recently switched to a Nikon 200-500Vr lens and am already experiencing more keepers and better, more focused results. Also, wanted to say thanks for your daily blog and for the books and instructional videos you have released which I refer to often.

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