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DPChallenge Forums >> Individual Photograph Discussion >> Newest lens is for the birds...
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05/14/2008 09:40:00 AM · #1
literally.

For about 3 months now I've been building my little "bird studio". Since I've posted last I've gotten a new 50mm 1.8, some outdoor utility lights, and have made a few other changes to make myself as invisible as possible to get them closer. My last shoot lasted 3 hours (if not for the squirrels it would have been 2). The sun was in and out. The dark background are from when the sun is behind a dark cloud and my lights are quite a bit brighter. When the sun is out I get an opposite effect. I like both. The birds are about 3 feet away from me when they are on the branch and less than a foot away when they are on the feeder. I would love some critique. :)

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05/14/2008 09:50:37 AM · #2
very nice ... cardinals are awesome looking

do you have any shots of the "studio" itself?
05/14/2008 09:54:44 AM · #3
What great shots! I also try to get photos of cardinals, bluejays, etc. but only have one or two good ones. I really like the dark background shots.

Looks like your studio is working well for you. What a good idea!

bj
05/14/2008 10:06:50 AM · #4
Very nice! I really like this one ==> ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/80000-84999/83845/120/678192.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/80000-84999/83845/120/678192.jpg', '/') + 1) . '.

Good job getting close to the Blue Jays. They are quite elusive, about as hard to approach as crows are.
05/14/2008 10:10:11 AM · #5
Originally posted by hopper:

very nice ... cardinals are awesome looking

do you have any shots of the "studio" itself?


No, but I'll take some shots after work. Basically, bright lights on the feeder with with plenty of twigs for them to land on and ponder if it's safe or not. Some reflectors to not let light in. Static cling window tint (for cars) that I can move around and make shooting area small as possible. For the inside, dark "tent" around the window for me to sit in, black gloves, hat and shirt. The kids call me black ninja ghost mommy, now. I imagine all the birds see is some light reflecting off my lens.
05/14/2008 10:30:34 AM · #6
Are you shooting through glass?
Strange to see such a short lens being used
for birds. It looks like some of your images
are at F1.8, I can't really tell since you
parse your EXIF info. You might try slightly
smaller aperature (larger numbers like 2.8, or 4)
to get more of the bird sharp, if that's what
you're trying to accomplish. Nice bokeh in many
of those shots. Get someone to take an image of
you in your "blind". I'd bet it is wicked looking!
05/14/2008 10:45:36 AM · #7
Originally posted by fir3bird:

Are you shooting through glass?
Strange to see such a short lens being used
for birds. It looks like some of your images
are at F1.8, I can't really tell since you
parse your EXIF info. You might try slightly
smaller aperature (larger numbers like 2.8, or 4)
to get more of the bird sharp, if that's what
you're trying to accomplish. Nice bokeh in many
of those shots. Get someone to take an image of
you in your "blind". I'd bet it is wicked looking!


Most are f1.8, but only because I'm bound and determined to get one flying from the branches straight at me to the feeder. So I guess I'm wanting the fast speed. But now that I think about it, that's going to be impossible with such a shallow depth of field anyway. It's hard to find that compromise because they are so darn fast and never stop moving their heads.

ETA: any advise from a bird photographer on settings. That is a weak point of mine. These birds are literally 3 feet away from when they take off and I haven't gotten an in-flight photo yet that's in focus. wah

Message edited by author 2008-05-14 10:49:26.
05/14/2008 10:47:22 AM · #8
Wow, your shots are gorgeous! Getting so close with a 50mm is commendable. You must cover yourself and your gear with camoflage and hold your breath. Well done!
05/14/2008 11:01:33 AM · #9
Wonderful shots! You must have a great setup there.
05/14/2008 11:03:24 AM · #10
I think you're on to something! These shots are really great. I especially like the last one. It's hard to imagine getting good bird shots with a 50mm. I use a 80-200 (at 200) for my hummingbirds. I can sit about 8 feet away from the feeder and not scare them away.

If you're looking for action shots, you may need to get a couple of flashes. Then you can use flash to stop the motion instead of the shutter speed.
05/14/2008 11:08:00 AM · #11
Originally posted by Ann:

I think you're on to something! These shots are really great. I especially like the last one. It's hard to imagine getting good bird shots with a 50mm. I use a 80-200 (at 200) for my hummingbirds. I can sit about 8 feet away from the feeder and not scare them away.

If you're looking for action shots, you may need to get a couple of flashes. Then you can use flash to stop the motion instead of the shutter speed.


You know, I thought of that, but was afraid I'd hurt their little eyes. I've used it before, however, and it's doesn't seem to bother them for the most part. But I can imagine them in their nest at night wondering what all those spots are every time they close their eyes. lol
05/14/2008 11:08:29 AM · #12
Awesome shots! Would you mind sharing/showing what your setup there looks like?
05/14/2008 11:11:47 AM · #13
Originally posted by jan_vdw:

Awesome shots! Would you mind sharing/showing what your setup there looks like?


I gave a general description earlier in the thread, but I'll be sure to take pics of the set-up after work and post here in the morning.
05/14/2008 12:01:57 PM · #14
Originally posted by Strikeslip:

Wow, your shots are gorgeous! Getting so close with a 50mm is commendable. You must cover yourself and your gear with camoflage and hold your breath. Well done!


Oh I can breathe... I can sip on margaritas and smoke and shoot 160 bird pics between 6pm and sundown (8:30ish). Hardest part is finding the time to edit all the ones worth editing. Here are some other shots from the same sitting as the OP.

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and now for something a little more 'played with'

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Message edited by author 2008-05-14 15:45:49.
05/14/2008 03:52:37 PM · #15
Originally posted by cynthiann:


Oh I can breathe... I can sip on margaritas and smoke and shoot 160 bird pics between 6pm and sundown (8:30ish). Hardest part is finding the time to edit all the ones worth editing. Here are some other shots from the same sitting as the OP.


That's why I love backyard bird photography. Once I'm set up, I can sit in my backyard with my feet up drinking coffee for an entire morning, pushing the button on my remote every once in awhile when a bird shows up at the feeder. It's the most relaxing thing I do....
05/14/2008 04:02:46 PM · #16
Originally posted by Ann:

Originally posted by cynthiann:


Oh I can breathe... I can sip on margaritas and smoke and shoot 160 bird pics between 6pm and sundown (8:30ish). Hardest part is finding the time to edit all the ones worth editing. Here are some other shots from the same sitting as the OP.


That's why I love backyard bird photography. Once I'm set up, I can sit in my backyard with my feet up drinking coffee for an entire morning, pushing the button on my remote every once in awhile when a bird shows up at the feeder. It's the most relaxing thing I do....


Ann, I just looked at your profile and I've been looking all over for you!!

I was just telling my husband last week that there was this chick on DPC that worked miracles with hummingbirds, but I couldn't remember your profile name.

Tell me how you do it!! Light... and especially focus in flight. Please please please please please...

BTW... it's become the most relaxing thing I do, too. I find myself sitting there well after the birds go to nest at night.
05/14/2008 04:28:27 PM · #17
Very nice shots, sounds like you have good setup.
05/14/2008 06:59:12 PM · #18
These are some great shots Cynthia. And with such a short lens too. Wow!

Have you considered setting up your environment a bit more? Something similar to what I did with these hummingbird photos...

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For these shots, I surrounded the feeder with several pots of flowers. It hides the feeder and gives the photos a nice colorful background.

I took these shots with a 100mm macro lens and the camera setup on a tripod. The birds didn't seem to be afraid of me at all. In fact, they flew so close to me at times that I was afraid they might poke me in the eye or fly in my ear. :)

Anyway, it's just a suggestion. The shots you're getting are terrific. Keep it up.


Mick
05/14/2008 07:50:15 PM · #19
holy crap!

Originally posted by Mick:

These are some great shots Cynthia. And with such a short lens too. Wow!

Have you considered setting up your environment a bit more? Something similar to what I did with these hummingbird photos...

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For these shots, I surrounded the feeder with several pots of flowers. It hides the feeder and gives the photos a nice colorful background.

I took these shots with a 100mm macro lens and the camera setup on a tripod. The birds didn't seem to be afraid of me at all. In fact, they flew so close to me at times that I was afraid they might poke me in the eye or fly in my ear. :)

Anyway, it's just a suggestion. The shots you're getting are terrific. Keep it up.


Mick
05/14/2008 09:45:26 PM · #20
Originally posted by hopper:

holy crap!

Uh... Is that a good comment or a bad one? :)

05/14/2008 09:48:52 PM · #21
I used to shoot with my own bird studio that I kept in the aviaries.....I had different backgrounds and many different species....I miss doing them, but we sold off everything a couple of years ago.

Great shots.
05/15/2008 12:11:04 PM · #22
Thanks ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21_F.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21_F.gif', '/') + 1) . ' ann for the flash advice. I read about your set-up and it gave me a lot of ideas. I think I've come up with a plan for my next step to catch them in flight.

Thanks ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/31.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/31.gif', '/') + 1) . ' mick for the advice on dressing things up a little. I've had some success with fish and lizard supplies from the fish store. A little color might be nice.

Thanks ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21_F.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21_F.gif', '/') + 1) . ' judi for a compliment from one of my all time faves here. You've been an inspiration to me and many others.

Here are a couple from last night. It was really close to dark and I closed my aperture a bit. The two I've processed so far have turned out quite nice, i think.

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ETA the stick is getting a little boring. I'll have to do something that :).

Message edited by author 2008-05-15 12:16:10.
05/15/2008 12:16:52 PM · #23
good

Originally posted by Mick:

Originally posted by hopper:

holy crap!

Uh... Is that a good comment or a bad one? :)

06/24/2008 10:13:53 AM · #24
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I finally got the elusive love birds, though not as well as I would have liked.

I guess these are love birds. They are very very skittish. So many cicadas around, all of the other birds are full.

Message edited by author 2008-06-24 11:10:12.
06/24/2008 11:17:11 AM · #25
Originally posted by cynthiann:

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I finally got the elusive love birds, though not as well as I would have liked.

I guess these are love birds. They are very very skittish. So many cicadas around, all of the other birds are full.


They're Mourning Doves.

Keep up the good work!
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