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DPChallenge Forums >> The Critique Club >> Recommendations needed to improve bird photography
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04/14/2015 07:18:27 PM · #1
I'm just starting out with zoom lenses and was hoping to get the entire Blue Jay in focus here. I believe this was taken at 200mm at F/ 5.6. Primary focus on the center of the bird, that's where I made the mistake. If I were to focus on it's face, would an aperture of say-- F13 be enough to get the entire bird in full focus?

15whu1y.jpg

Message edited by author 2015-04-14 19:22:54.
04/14/2015 07:22:09 PM · #2
sorry -- your link isn't working...
04/14/2015 07:23:19 PM · #3
Fixed !
04/14/2015 07:37:24 PM · #4
I'm not sure what aperture you'd need -- but the basic rule is to always focus on the eye. It actually would have been quite nice with the body and tail getting progressively soft, but you always want the eye sharp. Also, I've found it best to get on the bird's level. Shooting down at animals isn't as interesting as seeing them eye to eye.
04/14/2015 07:49:42 PM · #5
I echo everything that 21_F.gif vawendy said. You also asked about how to get the whole bird in focus. Using a telephoto lens is a lot like a macro lens in the DOF is very narrow. I am not sure you could get the entire bird in sharp focus with a 200mm lens, especially if you are close enough to almost fill the frame (is this image cropped at all?) from this angle. To get head to tail feathers in focus you have to be sideways to the bird, as close to 90 degrees as you can.

Message edited by author 2015-04-14 19:50:37.
04/14/2015 08:59:44 PM · #6
Originally posted by Kobba:

I echo everything that 21_F.gif vawendy said. You also asked about how to get the whole bird in focus. Using a telephoto lens is a lot like a macro lens in the DOF is very narrow. I am not sure you could get the entire bird in sharp focus with a 200mm lens, especially if you are close enough to almost fill the frame (is this image cropped at all?) from this angle. To get head to tail feathers in focus you have to be sideways to the bird, as close to 90 degrees as you can.
04/14/2015 09:49:58 PM · #7
Photograph dead birds. They don't move, so focusing is much easier.
04/14/2015 09:53:47 PM · #8
LOLOL Steve

Wendy is the bird queen :-)) Great question as well because I have been unsure of where I need the focus to be as well.

Birds are tricky and extremely hard to get right I usually use a 70-200 zoom
This was the sharpest I have ever done on a bird so far. I was pretty happy with it.

Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1145898.jpg

F stops That I use are usually between 7.1- 9.0

This particular shot was at 8.0, 70-200

Message edited by author 2015-04-14 21:54:22.
04/14/2015 10:00:58 PM · #9
Good advice Wendy thanks. Of course, I did try to focus on the eye. But these Jays rarely stay on the ground for too long. Now, if I only had access to a tree house or a 2nd story apartment. It'd be easier to be on bird level.

And yes Koppa, the photo is cropped, but just a tiny bit.

Message edited by author 2015-04-14 22:01:30.
04/14/2015 11:55:29 PM · #10
Something about a bird which is on the ground, is just not attractive. I would experiment with stopped motion, try using a fast shutter speed to capture a flying bird makes for much interesting images.
But for even funkier shots try slowing it down to get motion blur. Have fun it's all a learning curve.

Message edited by author 2015-04-14 23:58:22.
04/14/2015 11:58:07 PM · #11
Originally posted by RulerZigzag:

Good advice Wendy thanks. Of course, I did try to focus on the eye. But these Jays rarely stay on the ground for too long. Now, if I only had access to a tree house or a 2nd story apartment. It'd be easier to be on bird level.

And yes Koppa, the photo is cropped, but just a tiny bit.


When they are on the ground get down on the ground and shoot. I photograph a lot of water birds and make sure I wear cloths that I don't care about because I spend most of my time laying on the ground. Here is a link to my Bird gallery to give you an idea on what you can and cannot get into focus, also check out my Gator gallery.
04/15/2015 12:02:20 AM · #12
Originally posted by Neat:

Something about a bird which is on the ground, is just not attractive.


Unless it's doing something cool Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1099564.jpg like catching a fish
04/15/2015 12:19:19 AM · #13
Originally posted by jgirl57:

F stops That I use are usually between 7.1- 9.0 This particular shot was at 8.0, 70-200


I almost always shoot wide open. The best times for wildlife photography is the beginning and end of the day, which equals little light. So, I am fighting for enough light to get a high enough shutter speed to freeze action (need around 1/1000 to freeze a birds head when it is catching fish). Now later in the day I will stop down to get more DOF as long as I can keep my shutter speed where I want (prefer 1/2000, unless I am going for motion blur). Shooting wide-open and getting sharp images does require good glass, which unfortunately is not cheap.
04/15/2015 12:29:27 AM · #14
Try to learn about the habits of the critters you are wanting to photograph and it will help a lot.
If you are shooting back yard birds, you can limit the food supply to a small area and get the birds to come to that spot. They are fun with a good bird bath too.
I usually try to shoot around f8 and iso 400 in good daylight with birds in flight for hand held shots. Late in the day, I like to shoot with a monopod and wide open aperture, then maybe bump up the iso as it gets darker.
It's a juggle of iso, shutter speed, and aperture to get the motion stopped with minimal noise in the photos, with birds being almost always in motion.
Do some practice shots on an object with lots of details that is about the size of the birds you want to photograph. Focus on the same point each time, and use different aperture settings to see how DOF works with your lens at the range that you would normally be shooting.
I seem to be more intent on getting bird photos that are more artistic, and not so technically perfect.
04/15/2015 12:57:30 AM · #15
[quote=RulerZigzag] If I were to focus on it's face, would an aperture of say-- F13 be enough to get the entire bird in full focus?

Sample image

Why don't you check out DOF Master and punch in your specific numbers for f-stop, focal length and distance to see what would work for a bird of this size.

I'm not sure what settings you used but you may want to use spot metering on the bird and adjust accordingly. Birds with white plumage will blow out easily in this type of harsh light so you have to reduce your contrast in some way. The photo appears overexposed as well.

You may want to shoot with flash with a flash extender which would allow you to use higher f-stops.

[Edited by 100393.gif Paul to make this image a link and thus more forum friendly. Especially for mobile devices]

Message edited by Paul - Big inline image.
04/16/2015 01:30:00 PM · #16
I dont know how she does it but one of the best bird photogs is a girl I went to school with long ago....
Martha Akey......you can find her on Facebook. She identifies all her birds too.
04/16/2015 02:43:21 PM · #17
Originally posted by David Ey:

I dont know how she does it but one of the best bird photogs is a girl I went to school with long ago....
Martha Akey......you can find her on Facebook. She identifies all her birds too.


Any true wildlife/nature photographer will identify all their subjects. Birds are pretty easy, when you start getting into bugs and such it becomes a lot more difficult. Sometimes I will spend hours trying to ID some insect I took a photograph of.
12/22/2015 08:23:26 PM · #18
Try first to photograph roast chicken bird, and practise until it's good and then to real birds. also glue on the bird is easy made for the picture and most focus. Ostrich is easy to images, because it is big bird. my favourite bird to photograph, bats, as you can use flash on bat birds at night and don't over expose.
12/23/2015 09:29:51 AM · #19
Thanks, its nice that you have jumped straight into the site and are giving helpful tips.

We thank you very much Master.
12/23/2015 10:03:50 AM · #20
To the OP:

The eye catch glint shows motion blur. Maybe the shot was hand held. In general, successful wildlife photography usually requires a wide open aperture, in order to achieve enough shutter speed to neutralize camera shake. Some help would come from a tripod mount, and of course, image stabilization on your equipment will help some. Birds move a lot. I recommend 1/1000s or faster shutter speed. (Much faster on birds in flight.) To couple wide open aperture and a fast enough shutter speed, you may need to boost ISO speed. If you have a recent model camera, you should be able to go to ISO 3200 without electronic noise trouble.

If you do all of the above and discover you are still not achieving adequate depth-of-field, then stop down the aperture a little. Realize that you may be exacerbating your motion blur with an overly constrained shutter speed.

ETA: Looking at your image again, it is also possible you were closer than your minimum focusing distance. I have no way of knowing, but the focus issue could be related to being too close for the equipment to focus.

Message edited by author 2015-12-23 10:19:23.
12/23/2015 10:50:53 AM · #21
Originally posted by Tiny:

Thanks, its nice that you have jumped straight into the site and are giving helpful tips.

We thank you very much Master.


You are very welcome, I like to help and share expertise and high skill level i have
12/23/2015 05:57:12 PM · #22
Originally posted by Tiny:

Thanks, its nice that you have jumped straight into the site and are giving helpful tips.

We thank you very much Master.


Originally posted by RussianMasterPhotographer:

You are very welcome, I like to help and share expertise and high skill level i have

And *so* modest!!!
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