Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve Birding

double_entendredouble_entendre Gene pool chlorinatorPosts: 117Registered Users Major grins

The wife and I went for a walk yesterday evening and I took advantage of the opportunity to saddle up my 300mm with a 2x multiplier because I'm still too cheap to cough up for a 600mm lens. :smile:

C&C welcome and even encouraged. Also, one dumbish question. At one point I ended up cranking up the ISO on my D7000 to get more shutter speed. Any good rules of thumb for what ISO to use for what situations? Anything other than "whatever allows you to use the shutter speed you want and lower is better?"

I'm not happy at all with the last one--too fuzzy. Any thoughts on what might have caused that?

Full album is here.

Thank you!

Comments

  • HathingtheHathingthe UkrainePosts: 19Registered Users Big grins

    The first photo is a masterpiece. You captured a right moment)

  • denisegoldbergdenisegoldberg Major grins North Andover, MAPosts: 12,266Super Moderators moderator

    @double_entendre said:
    I'm not happy at all with the last one--too fuzzy. Any thoughts on what might have caused that?

    It looks like the focus in the last photo was on the sticks in front of the owl as opposed to being on the owl.
    The other photos in the set could also use sharper focus on the bird.

  • StumblebumStumblebum I shoot, therefore I am Posts: 7,550Registered Users Major grins

    The grumpy owl is cool!

  • double_entendredouble_entendre Gene pool chlorinator Posts: 117Registered Users Major grins

    @denisegoldberg said:

    @double_entendre said:
    I'm not happy at all with the last one--too fuzzy. Any thoughts on what might have caused that?

    It looks like the focus in the last photo was on the sticks in front of the owl as opposed to being on the owl.
    The other photos in the set could also use sharper focus on the bird.

    You're absolutely right that the focus needs work.

    It's one thing I'm struggling with. NX-D says that the focal point is on the eyes or forehead or, at worst, the neck (the heron). I could post screen caps or the NEF files somewhere.

    I'm wondering if the camera was moving more than I thought or if the 2x multipler really screwed things up or what. Maybe I should try just the 300mm and crop it. Really annoyed that they're as fuzzy as they are. Is that a resolution question (D7000)? Maybe I should cough up the dough to rent a 600mm from Samy's and see what I get.

    Thank you for your thoughts.

  • double_entendredouble_entendre Gene pool chlorinator Posts: 117Registered Users Major grins

    Here's what I mean. Any thoughts? C&C?

  • denisegoldbergdenisegoldberg Major grins North Andover, MAPosts: 12,266Super Moderators moderator
    edited April 18, 2017

    @double_entendre said:
    Here's what I mean. Any thoughts? C&C?

    That focus point seems a bit odd - to my eyes, the sticks in front of the owl are in sharper focus than any part of the owl.

    Were you using a tripod?

    I just did a quick search on teleconverters and found this article - https://photographylife.com/what-is-a-teleconverter/. Article referenced this one about image degradation using Nikon teleconverters - https://photographylife.com/image-degradation-with-nikon-teleconverters/. The section in the first article titled "6) The Impact of Teleconverters on Lens Sharpness and Contrast" shows the sharpness loss on each of 3 Nikon teleconverters.

  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaPosts: 14,405Super Moderators moderator
    edited April 18, 2017

    I see no mention of using a tripod, and with 600mm lens a tripod is strongly advised, unless you have a firm brace like a rock or a post or something to hold against.

    Having said that, the owl does look out of focus to me too, rather than camera movement, just like Denise said. The foreground branches are sharper. The owl is also significantly under exposed back there in the shade. It looks like the exposure was more for the tree, and branches than the owl. Were you really using a single AF point? Do you choose the AF point when you frame your image or do you permit your camera to AF automatically?? I don't see more than one square in your last image, so I assume you were only using one AF point? Were these images shot as jpgs or as RAW files? Were they sharpened in post exposure editing in any way? Images do need post exposure editing to look their very best. Was the camera AF in single AF mode, or in continuous AF mode also?

    ISO choice is to always use the lowest ISO can can use, for the image quality you prefer. You're right. lower is better, but how do you balance ISO versus aperture vs shutter speed for birds in particular.

    Harry Behret, who used to mod this forum, always told me he only used ISO 100 for shooting birds in Vierra Florida. I was really impressed by this, until I realized he was shooting white egrets in tropical sunlight. I frequently shoot in TV ( shutter preferred ) with Auto ISO to get a feel for what exposure combination I prefer - I usually start with a shutter speed of at least 1/1000 or 1/1500 for long glass with IS on ( unless I'm using a tripod ). I then try to balance aperture and ISO to favor lower ISO, but I also prefer to shoot my lenses stopped down a stop if I have room enough and light enough.

    But I have many images of wildlife captured at ISOs of 1600, 3200, 6400, and even 12800 depending on the lighting. When you are shooting back in the woods after sunset, or before sunrise, it can be pretty dark. It is not tropical sunlight levels. Good modern DSLRs can create nice images at these ISOs if the image is not under exposed. Most of my snowy owls were shot at 800, or 1600 ISO, but some were pushing 6000 or more. I have big cats shot back in the deep shade captured at ISO 12800, and I like the images. Some I converted to B&W.

    Even Harry uses higher ISOs in modern Nikon bodies these days if he needs to to get the image. Lower ISO is always preferred, but never miss an image by too slow a shutter speed or too low an ISO.

    I think I would suggest putting your camera and lens with the 2X TC on a weighted tripod, focus it carefully on a brick wall or some flat, detailed surface at a distance of 30-100 feet and trip the shutter with a cable release and see what your AF is doing. Examine the image carefully on your monitor at 200% or more. It may be you need to micro adjust your AF or that your camera needs service if that one image of the owl AF point is correct.

    I like the timing of you first shot - great capture. I wish you had the tail of the bird too, but if the image is really sharp, you might just crop to the head and neck t let us see the minnow more clearly.

    Your second image of the GBH might be better if you had shot from a lower or higher perspective so the shoreline was not right in line with the birds head. I do like that you were shooting from about the birds eye level, I think this is always helpful. Photographs of kids, and animals are usually better shot from their eye level. GBHs can be challenging; yours is sharp and well exposed.

    I envy you the owl shots, they are so much easier to hear than to find sometimes. Well done.

    And welcome to dgrin.

    Maybe some of the dedicated Nikon shooters on this thread will have some suggestions I overlooked.

    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 0 Many Grins

    The first photo is the best but a little out of focus and light is also a little out of control - look at the top of the neck and back. My bitter experience is, that one have to be extremely careful about overexposure on small parts of the motive, when one shoot white birds (swans, egrets etc.) in bright sunlight. I know nothing about Nikon, but I know that I have to pay attention to AF microadjustment if I put an extender on my Canon cameras, that are microadjusted without extender.

  • double_entendredouble_entendre Gene pool chlorinator Posts: 117Registered Users Major grins

    @denisegoldberg said:

    @double_entendre said:
    Here's what I mean. Any thoughts? C&C?

    That focus point seems a bit odd - to my eyes, the sticks in front of the owl are in sharper focus than any part of the owl.

    Were you using a tripod?

    I just did a quick search on teleconverters and found this article - https://photographylife.com/what-is-a-teleconverter/. Article referenced this one about image degradation using Nikon teleconverters - https://photographylife.com/image-degradation-with-nikon-teleconverters/. The section in the first article titled "6) The Impact of Teleconverters on Lens Sharpness and Contrast" shows the sharpness loss on each of 3 Nikon teleconverters.

    And I've got to believe that using an old, non-Nikon teleconverter is even worse. The article suggests 26% image degradation loss with a 2x teleconverter. Egads. Maybe I should look at cropping the 300 instead since I'm not buying a 600mm anytime soon.

    @pathfinder said:
    I see no mention of using a tripod, and with 600mm lens a tripod is strongly advised, unless you have a firm brace like a rock or a post or something to hold against.

    Sorry, yeah, I've got a Manfrotto, but was having to halfway handhold it because the the mount on the camera wasn't tight enough. I swear I'm gonna Loctite that thing. :/

    Having said that, the owl does look out of focus to me too, rather than camera movement, just like Denise said. The foreground branches are sharper. The owl is also significantly under exposed back there in the shade. It looks like the exposure was more for the tree, and branches than the owl. Were you really using a single AF point? Do you choose the AF point when you frame your image or do you permit your camera to AF automatically?? I don't see more than one square in your last image, so I assume you were only using one AF point? Were these images shot as jpgs or as RAW files? Were they sharpened in post exposure editing in any way? Images do need post exposure editing to look their very best. Was the camera AF in single AF mode, or in continuous AF mode also?

    I've got the camera set to shoot both RAW and jpeg, but I don't know why. I usually skim through the jpegs, but never do anything with them. I should just set it to RAW only. I need to double-check if it's on continuous or single, though it is set to single-point. Very good question. I did some post-processing, but clearly not enough. I'm learning that end of the equation still. Barely good enough to qualify as uneducated as yet.

    I think a lot of the answer is going to prove to be sloppy focusing. I'll get out this weekend and try again.

    ISO choice is to always use the lowest ISO can can use, for the image quality you prefer. You're right. lower is better, but how do you balance ISO versus aperture vs shutter speed for birds in particular.

    Harry Behret, who used to mod this forum, always told me he only used ISO 100 for shooting birds in Vierra Florida. I was really impressed by this, until I realized he was shooting white egrets in tropical sunlight. I frequently shoot in TV ( shutter preferred ) with Auto ISO to get a feel for what exposure combination I prefer - I usually start with a shutter speed of at least 1/1000 or 1/1500 for long glass with IS on ( unless I'm using a tripod ). I then try to balance aperture and ISO to favor lower ISO, but I also prefer to shoot my lenses stopped down a stop if I have room enough and light enough.

    I'm laughing at that "white egrets in tropical sunlight" part. The big print gives and the fine print takes away.

    I don't have image stabilization nor VR on the telephoto lenses, so no luck there. But I will take your advice and try to target a much faster shutter speed. If memory serves, I'm sure I was under 1/400 second.

    But I have many images of wildlife captured at ISOs of 1600, 3200, 6400, and even 12800 depending on the lighting. When you are shooting back in the woods after sunset, or before sunrise, it can be pretty dark. It is not tropical sunlight levels. Good modern DSLRs can create nice images at these ISOs if the image is not under exposed. Most of my snowy owls were shot at 800, or 1600 ISO, but some were pushing 6000 or more. I have big cats shot back in the deep shade captured at ISO 12800, and I like the images. Some I converted to B&W.

    Your snowy owls are amazing. Gives me something to strive for.

    Even Harry uses higher ISOs in modern Nikon bodies these days if he needs to to get the image. Lower ISO is always preferred, but never miss an image by too slow a shutter speed or too low an ISO.

    Big lesson about being greedy (or stupid) about ISO. What good is low ISO if the picture is rubbish?

    I think I would suggest putting your camera and lens with the 2X TC on a weighted tripod, focus it carefully on a brick wall or some flat, detailed surface at a distance of 30-100 feet and trip the shutter with a cable release and see what your AF is doing. Examine the image carefully on your monitor at 200% or more. It may be you need to micro adjust your AF or that your camera needs service if that one image of the owl AF point is correct.

    I will try to do that today. Getting out of work early to get some stitches removed (slipped with a freshly sharpened wood plane blade a couple weeks ago; apply head to wall; repeat). I did some poking around and found this: http://regex.info/blog/photo-tech/focus-chart Any thoughts/opinions on that?

    I like the timing of you first shot - great capture. I wish you had the tail of the bird too, but if the image is really sharp, you might just crop to the head and neck t let us see the minnow more clearly.

    I absolutely agree. He was only a handful of yards away and I was stuck with the 300mm and 2x teleconverter. I backed as far away as I could, but it wasn't enough. Cropping may be the right idea, though. I'll tinker. Wish it was in focus. :baldy:

    Your second image of the GBH might be better if you had shot from a lower or higher perspective so the shoreline was not right in line with the birds head. I do like that you were shooting from about the birds eye level, I think this is always helpful. Photographs of kids, and animals are usually better shot from their eye level. GBHs can be challenging; yours is sharp and well exposed.

    Thank you very much and you're right. I'll get more opportunities, I'm sure.

    I envy you the owl shots, they are so much easier to hear than to find sometimes. Well done.

    >

    I've often said that people in SoCal give up every metric of quality of life for the weather and think it's more or less true. But being close to Bolsa Chica puts us right in the path of migration for all kinds of birds, so every season we get to see birds that aren't local. Very fun. I only found the owls because someone pointed them out to me. They never made a peep when I was taking photos.

    And welcome to dgrin.

    Maybe some of the dedicated Nikon shooters on this thread will have some suggestions I overlooked.

    Thank you very much for taking the time to critique and give your thoughts. I truly appreciate it. I don't add any significant value to dgrin yet, but my day will come.

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