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Thread: Even an Old Dog Can Hunt....

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    Publisher Arthur Morris's Avatar
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    Default Even an Old Dog Can Hunt....

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    I write often that I am not very good at capturing image of birds in flight and in action. In a recent post somebody commented in a rather crude manner that I was full of it. I am not. In addition to slowing reflexes I often get very nervous when I see a great bird flying towards me. When this endangered drake Spectacled Eider began running across the water to lift off I remember taking a deep breath and concentrating. I made only two frame while Brian and EJ each made many more. But I was thrilled with this one.

    This image was created in Barrow, AK with the Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens, the 1.4X II TC, and the EOS 1D MIV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2/3 stops off the bird in the water: 1/500 sec. at f/11 set manually. (Just before they took flight I had been attempting to get some d-o-f while photographing the pair.)

    Don't be shy; all comments welcome.

    ps: This is a very small crop from the rear and from above.
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    Wow! Strange looking bird, (I see why it is named!) like the green in the neck!
    Composition conveys the movement nicely, face is sharp and that makes the image, but body could have been sharper if ss was higher. This is really a problem with no solution,and i think all would agree, if you are set up for something and a different opportunity crops up very fast! Then it's a test of how fast one can think and act!

    Here's hoping it's a learnable skill, (If it was inborn, i'd be better off taking up painting!) :)

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    What amazing features on the head - I dont think I have ever seen this species. Well you have captured a good flying posture, and sharp where it counts. ( they say, if you come away with at least one winner/keeper, your trip was worthwhile. Hopefully this was your shot ) Well captured.

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    Thanks. Even had I been in Av mode there would not have been enough time to dial in the wide open aperture. In manual mode there was even less chance. Here's a good rule: when unexpected action occurs do not attempt to think or change anything. If you do, you will wind up with nothing 99% of the time. I believe that I wrote that in the original Art of Bird Photography.

    What are you hoping is a learn-able skill?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Bowie View Post
    What amazing features on the head - I dont think I have ever seen this species. Well you have captured a good flying posture, and sharp where it counts. ( they say, if you come away with at least one winner/keeper, your trip was worthwhile. Hopefully this was your shot ) Well captured.
    Thanks Stuart. I have more than a few good ones :) I too love the green on the head. If the image were made in brighter conditions the green looks black. Though it is hard to see in the JPEG, the bird has a blue iris that can be seen distinctively in the TIFF.
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    Axel Hildebrandt
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    I think it looks pretty good considering the low shutter speed but find the bird a bit low in the frame.

    For surprise moments, I have one button programmed to go to manual mode at a high shutter speed.

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    This is probably the best flight shot of this species taken so far.
    Great image of this incredible species.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur Morris View Post
    What are you hoping is a learn-able skill?
    Thinking fast!
    Oh well, and also taking flight shots... but more on the thinking fast part!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Axel Hildebrandt View Post
    For surprise moments, I have one button programmed to go to manual mode at a high shutter speed.
    This is interesting! Have to try if this is possible...!

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    One amazing bird Guruji , Tack sharp where it counts and excellent BG
    TFS

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    Interesting looking bird. The head is nice and sharp and I like the wing blur.

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    Artie, flight photography with that much focal length has to be tough...this is excellent. like the combination of sharp head and wing blur.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Axel Hildebrandt View Post
    I think it looks pretty good considering the low shutter speed but find the bird a bit low in the frame. For surprise moments, I have one button programmed to go to manual mode at a high shutter speed.
    What button? What exposure? As for the position in the frame, I was simply trying to keep the sensor on the black and white of the neck but failed as the sensor was on the black lower breast just forward of the near wing.
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    Lifetime Member Rachel Hollander's Avatar
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    Beutiful shot. I like the wing blur to add the feeling of movement. Glad to hear the masters also get nervous when presented with a unique shot or opportunity.

    Rachel

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    Considering the focal length I would say this is an exceptional BIF image. I am a big fan of wing blurs and like the effect. Exceptional eye contact and details on the head. Great job Artie.

    I should put Barrow on my list for next year.

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    Axel Hildebrandt
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur Morris View Post
    What button? What exposure?
    I use the * button and press it with my thumb if a bird flies by. Pressing it sets it to manual at 1/1600s and f/8 and it also attempts to focus. It keeps the ISO that I have chosen beforehand. Works well for me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Axel Hildebrandt View Post
    I use the * button and press it with my thumb if a bird flies by. Pressing it sets it to manual at 1/1600s and f/8 and it also attempts to focus. It keeps the ISO that I have chosen beforehand. Works well for me.
    Thanks. How do you assign that function to the star button:confused:?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur Morris View Post
    Thanks. How do you assign that function to the star button:confused:?
    You can switch AF On and * button in the settings. It depends on how you hold your camera, maybe the AF On button works better for you anyway.

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    Thanks Peter and Sid and Ilija. I agree completely :)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Axel Hildebrandt View Post
    You can switch AF On and * button in the settings. It depends on how you hold your camera, maybe the AF On button works better for you anyway.
    Thanks Axel. I do the button switch. What I am understanding is how to switch the function of the button so that it sets a given exposure....
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    I had thought of setting a high shutter speed in shutter priority mode... then shifting to aperture priority...
    If a BIF opportunity arises.. i just shift the dial to shutter priority...

    But i am just learning BIFs at the moment... so not really qualified to say if this will work. Will it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by subhrashis View Post
    I had thought of setting a high shutter speed in shutter priority mode... then shifting to aperture priority...
    If a BIF opportunity arises.. i just shift the dial to shutter priority...

    But i am just learning BIFs at the moment... so not really qualified to say if this will work. Will it?
    It will get you a faster shutter speed but in most situations, you will miss the shot. See Peter Kes' comment above on flight--if it is a continuing opportunity it is easy to get everything right. If an endangered species hurtles right towards you unexpectedly you must go with what you've got. Otherwise, no chance.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur Morris View Post
    It will get you a faster shutter speed but in most situations, you will miss the shot. See Peter Kes' comment above on flight--if it is a continuing opportunity it is easy to get everything right. If an endangered species hurtles right towards you unexpectedly you must go with what you've got. Otherwise, no chance.
    Agreed... this is not for the current situation.

    Can it work in the "shooting ground bird X , bird Y flies by overhead" scenario ?

    Wont work at all times... gotta see if i can make it work "some" times.
    Last edited by subhrashis; 06-18-2010 at 11:42 AM.

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    Axel Hildebrandt
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Kes View Post
    I use this too, where * is AF, AF-ON is exposure and the release button is not activating AF. But did I understand you correctly that you can set/fix a particular shutter speed and f-stop ?
    Yes, I think this was Artie's question, too, if I understand correctly. You can register it to use a specific shutter speed, mode and aperture (C.Fn I-14), ISO stays the same that you are using in AV or whatever mode you were using at the moment. In AV, I make sure to use an ISO that would work for the preset when pressing the * button.

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    When your good , your good.;););)

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    I like the shot Artie. I agree that a higher shutter speed would have made the body and wings sharper. I happen to like some wing blur showing motion.....but for me, the impressive part of this image is the fact you nailed this with a 800mm lense and an attached TC in probably not the best lighting. Great capture of an incredible looking species
    " In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks" - John Muir

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    Artie,

    Yes you CAN! You just did! Wonderful image...:)
    I would like to see a little more crop off the right side....


    Best,
    Mike

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    Very nice shot at 1/500SS. I would be happy if I could get a sharp picture at a surprise moment.
    Axel's custom function is a great idea. Have to check into my Nikon ;)

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    Quote Originally Posted by subhrashis View Post
    Agreed... this is not for the current situation.

    Can it work in the "shooting ground bird X , bird Y flies by overhead" scenario ?

    Wont work at all times... gotta see if i can make it work "some" times.
    Can what work???
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    Did the best given the camera settings, head is just sharp enough, motion on the wing tips is nice too. I can see the blue iris.

    Good suggestion by Axel, programming * button is the fast way to quickly set exposure for flight during action. Does not register ISO, but 400-800 works most of the time. I actually like the C1/C2/C3 on the main dial in the 5DII better in this regard, three banks and does register ISO as well as AF settings!!!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Axel Hildebrandt View Post
    Yes, I think this was Artie's question, too, if I understand correctly. You can register it to use a specific shutter speed, mode and aperture (C.Fn I-14), ISO stays the same that you are using in AV or whatever mode you were using at the moment. In AV, I make sure to use an ISO that would work for the preset when pressing the * button.
    Thanks Axel, That's what I was looking for. I will check it out as I had no clue on that one.
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    Hello Arthur.

    And thanks for sharing this wonderful image with us. I also believe that an old dog can hunt...

    I believe that this is the first time I see this species being posted here. As mentioned above, the motion blur on the wings gives life to this image and agree about it being sharp where it has to be.

    Just a question, did you use fill flash for this one? By the way, I am eagerly reading your flash-as-main-light and fill flash techniques from your book. Do you still believe that manual flash renders the best and more natural images?

    Thanks for your input.

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    Ofer Levy
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    Looks pretty sharp for 1/500 !!

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    Quote Originally Posted by arash_hazeghi View Post
    Did the best given the camera settings, head is just sharp enough, motion on the wing tips is nice too. I can see the blue iris.
    With all due respect, the head and eye are quite sharp :)

    ps to Ofer: thanks! That's what I was saying at the same time
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    Artie, Beautiful eider and a wonderful flight shot. Sharp where it's needed- I guess you've still got it:)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Juan Carlos Vindas View Post
    Hello Arthur. And thanks for sharing this wonderful image with us. I also believe that an old dog can hunt... I believe that this is the first time I see this species being posted here. As mentioned above, the motion blur on the wings gives life to this image and agree about it being sharp where it has to be.
    Just a question, did you use fill flash for this one? By the way, I am eagerly reading your flash-as-main-light and fill flash techniques from your book. Do you still believe that manual flash renders the best and more natural images?
    Thanks for your input.
    Hi JC, YAW. I think that Lana Hays posted an image of a pair resting on a bank yesterday :) Thanks for your kind comments. I do believe that manual flash yields the most natural looking images but I am pretty sure that there is no practical reason for that. I shall ask EJ Peiker his opinion at dinner tonight and get back to you.
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    I really like the image. In particular, I like the comp. With the bird low in the frame...it really denotes, at least to me, how low the bird is flying next to the water. At first glance I wanted less on top and more on bottom, but after looking for a bit...the low subject placment really stands out to me. Thanks for sharing.

    On a side note: If anyone is aware if a Nikon body can have a button set up to function like described in this thread, I would love to know about it. I am reading through my manuals now...that is a trick I would love to be able to use!

    Jason

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    Good point Jason. In the frame before this one the tips of the last three bird's near primaries were actually in the water. Unfortunately I clipped two of those wingtips :o

    Good luck with the Nikon question.

    Also, as Arash noted briefly, the 7D offers lots of options with the C1, C2, and C3 options.
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    Quote Originally Posted by denise ippolito View Post
    Artie, Beautiful eider and a wonderful flight shot. Sharp where it's needed- I guess you've still got it:)
    Thanks. I am still working on getting it :)
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    Hey Guru, wish I can acheive half the amount of the great work done by you in bird photography.. I take a Bow to you...

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    Thank you Kiran-bhai for your more than kind words. Your new avatar is great and I continue to love your posted images.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur Morris View Post
    With all due respect, the head and eye are quite sharp :)
    Yes sir. sure it is :) blue iris would not visible if it was soft.
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    Publisher Arthur Morris's Avatar
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    Thanks Arash, I was just wondering why you wrote "head is just sharp enough" in your original comment :)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur Morris View Post
    Can what work???
    Sorry i did not make myself clear,

    i was referring to setting a ss of, say, 1/1000 in Tv, switch to Av for perching birds, if a bird flies by overhead, i switch dial back to Tv, and go for the flier.

    This would, in most cases work like Axel's custom setting, only cruder. Can this be a workaround for low end bodies?

    This is just paper and pen planning, have to see how it works out in the field.
    Last edited by subhrashis; 06-19-2010 at 08:05 AM.

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    What camera body are you using?
    BIRDS AS ART Blog: great info and lessons, lots of images with our legendary BAA educational Captions; we will not sell you junk. 30+ years of long lens experience/e-mail with gear questions.

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    Hi Artie, all of the appropriate comments have been made about your beautiful Spectacled Eider. How is you left hip? At "our" young ages injuries like that can take longer to heal. Hope you are better!
    Cheers, Jay

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    Thanks Jay. Actually, after only two days it is doing much better than I ever expected. I went out this morning and we got really close to a pair of Stellar's Eiders. It is a bit sore but fully functional. I have been icing it and doing ibuprofen. Thanks for the reminder: I am gonna go get some more ice now.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur Morris View Post
    Hi JC, YAW. I think that Lana Hays posted an image of a pair resting on a bank yesterday :) Thanks for your kind comments. I do believe that manual flash yields the most natural looking images but I am pretty sure that there is no practical reason for that. I shall ask EJ Peiker his opinion at dinner tonight and get back to you.
    Hello Arthur!
    Just a question, were you able to ask EJ Peiker his opinion about manual flash? I'm curious as you can see. Thanks for your reply.

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    Yes. I remembered while we were standing in an icy river up to our waists waiting for the Stellar's Eiders to quit sleeping. He said that if the ambient exposure in the same and set manually, if the light is unchanged, and if the flash levels as determined by a flash meter are the same, then the images would be identical. That's what I figured he would say :( Worse yet, I know that he is right.
    BIRDS AS ART Blog: great info and lessons, lots of images with our legendary BAA educational Captions; we will not sell you junk. 30+ years of long lens experience/e-mail with gear questions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur Morris View Post
    What camera body are you using?
    Nikon D5000.

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