Birds - Particularly the Pheasant - How?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by PhotoXopher, Nov 12, 2009.

  1. PhotoXopher

    PhotoXopher TPF Noob!

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    I've been hunting pheasants since I was very little and still remember my first time out with a real gun, and my first bird. It was always a fun and special time because I'd go with my dad and grandpa. Ever since my grandfather passed away we haven't gone and it's been about 7 years now.

    That said, I still love the pheasant and have really wanted to capture a photograph of one either in the field or in flight, however any opportunity I get is spoiled by incorrect focus or too slow of shutter speed.

    I have a D90 and Nikon 80-200 f/2.8 lens now so I should be more prepared, or so I thought.

    This morning I took the backroads hoping to find a deer or pheasant and wouldn't you know it, a pheasant landed just as I was going by. I stopped, checked my camera settings and got out. Of course the bird started to run so I walked after it as if I were hunting it. As expected it took flight only to leave me with nothing but this to show for it:

    Looking for any tips/tricks to help increase my chances, thank you!

    1/500s | 800 ISO | f/4.0 | 200mm
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2009
  2. GeneralBenson

    GeneralBenson TPF Noob!

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    Well, my first observation is that while the technique you described might work for trying to shoot them with a gun, for pictures, it results in the bird lying away from you, which isn't ideal. So I would think of a new game plan. I think it's a waiting game. I don't know, I'm not a bird photographer. But I don't know that focusing on moving birds is freaking hard. I would also love tips on that.
     
  3. Goontz

    Goontz TPF Noob!

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    I like the little bit of motion blur in the wings that you got here. I don't know how much I can offer as far as getting a great shot, but I would think you're on to something with acting like you're hunting them. You're still "shooting" them, after all :) Tough shot to get, but considering the personal meaning and story behind it, I think you'll be that much happier when you do get a great shot.
     
  4. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Bird photography starts at 400mm :(
    The sad but often very true fact I have picked up from a lot of bird photographers. I to work with a 70-200mm (often with a 1.4TC added) and even then I find that I often have too little range to get the shots I want to get.

    Settings wise you look good - wide open aperture, fast shutter speed and low aperture - the only thing I would say is that when shooting aginst a bright background I would overexpose the shot (exposure compensation) by around 2/3 to 1 stop so that I get a good exposure on the dark bird. This is because unless you use spot metering and can get the bird right in the middle for the spot meter to meter it, then the average area meterings will detect all the bright sky and expose more for that than the bird.

    Another tip is to not hunt but instead sit and wait - hides and a few lurs (birdfood) can work wonders and help to bring the animal to you, which can often be easier than trying to hunt the animal.
     
  5. PhotoXopher

    PhotoXopher TPF Noob!

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    Birds like geese and ducks I've gotten pretty decent at, but they aren't known for their speed like pheasants are. I've all but given up on barn swallows :lol:

    Thanks for the excellent ideas... I may have to just try the sit and wait approach, maybe stalk out some grounds known for pheasants and start baiting.

    Perhaps I should have opened it up to f/2.8, I had it set at f/4.0 for doing some landscape shots previously (I wanted the hay and some of the field near the fence, however wanted to blur the silo in the background).
     
  6. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Just remember that if you start baiting you have to make sure you don't start providing a relied upon source of food for the animals - especailly in the winter months when things are more stretched for animals. A few feeds in oddspots or in teh same spot won't have any effect, but food every day for a few weeks will quickly become relied upon.

    Funny thing is I tend to have the opposite problem with pheanats - at least when the grass is long - they get too close. Onetime I was almost standing on him before he flew (good job he did too cause the husky was also almost standing on him!)
     
  7. PhotoXopher

    PhotoXopher TPF Noob!

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    Yeah, they're amazing birds... when it gets colder (I live in MN), it will be really difficult to get them up.

    Good point on the feeding... In reality it probably won't happen, I'm SO busy with 3 little kids at home I don't have the time, usually shots like this happen on my way to or home from work when I have my shirt and tie on :lol:
     
  8. robertwsimpson

    robertwsimpson No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I don't know nikon, but on my canon, I switch to rapid fire mode and AI servo... that way, it's refocusing between every shot. that solves the focus problem. Other than that, I know that pheasants have a retardedly fast wing beat, so you're going to have to up the shutter speed. I'd also add a 1.4x teleconverter to help you zoom a little farther. when you add the tc, it's going to give you an fstop around 4 or so if you run it wide open, so you'll have about the same shutter speed needed, so you might have to bump the ISO. Just experiment as much as possible. That's the only real way to learn what works for you!

    I try to stick with 1/500 - 1/1000 shutter speed for flying birds though.
     
  9. PhotoXopher

    PhotoXopher TPF Noob!

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    I hear ya... 1/500th is a minimum for me, I think the rush and getting caught slightly off guard this time is what most of the problem was, that and trying to lock focus on this sucker.
     
  10. robertwsimpson

    robertwsimpson No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    yep, I'm not sure of the terminology, but from my experience, I switch to multipoint focus, AI servo, and machine gun mode. That way, I can hold the button and the camera does all the work for me. Even with my crappy 55-250 lens, it holds focus really well.
     
  11. PhotoXopher

    PhotoXopher TPF Noob!

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    I'll have to try that next time, I'm so used to single point AF (focus and recompose method) that I may have forgotten to switch.

    Thanks!
     
  12. robertwsimpson

    robertwsimpson No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    yeah I do the same thing. it's much easier to put it on multipoint when you're trying to track a crazily flying bird with a zoom lens. it's hard enough to get the bird anywhere near the center of the frame, let alone in the exact center. And it's not like there is anything around the bird to missfocus on. hope it helps!
     

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