D-90/bird photography/iso

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by tom beard, Jul 11, 2010.

  1. tom beard

    tom beard TPF Noob!

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    In my yard (open shade) I have an 18" dish containing bird seed on the ground. Every day at about 5:00pm a family of Mountain Quail with about ten small chicks come to feed. Some of them feed right out of the dish and others in about a 5 foot radius. I need a fast shutter speed (150?) because they move fast, and a small aperture (f11 or higher?) to keep the 5' radius in sharp focus using a 18-105 kit zoom. I presume I should be shooting in Manual mode. Will the camera choose the ISO for me, or must I set it manually, and to what speed? Should I use High ISO Noise Reduction? Also, should I use matrix metering in AFc, or turn the auto focus off? I tried using flash, but it spooks the birds. I'm using a tripod and a wireless remote to trip the shutter from inside the house and can't make adjustments once the birds are there. I'm pretty new at this and usually shoot in Jpeg-Programmed Auto, so any suggestions on how to do this would really help.

    Thanks, as always. Tom Beard
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2010
  2. MrBarney

    MrBarney TPF Noob!

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    For what it's worth, coming from a relative newbie...

    Shutter 1/150 or faster sounds good. Aim for 1/500 if you can get it.
    Aperture will depend on distance to subject and focal length. Without that it's hard to say.

    If the lighting is likely not to change (so no clouds blowing across the sky etc,) then manual would be the way to go. Take a few test shots so you know you're in the right area, and shoot RAW to give you the most scope for adjustments.

    I wouldn't trust the camera to set the ISO here. Without control over the shutter or aperture it's my experience that it's never what I wanted.

    Manual focus would be ok again, if you dial it in beforehand. Perhaps let the AF focus on the dish, then switch the lens to MF?

    Can you light the area some other way? A couple of halogen flood lights, for example?
     
  3. flyin-lowe

    flyin-lowe TPF Noob!

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    I am a newbie as well so don't take this the wrong way but you need to get the book Understanding Exposure. I got it and read it twice. It is easy to read and you won't believe how much you will learn from it. It is by far the best thing I have done since buying my SLR.
     
  4. benlonghair

    benlonghair TPF Noob!

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    First of all, don't be disappointed at how short 105mm is when shooting birds. My 300 isn't even close to long enough to seriously photograph birds.

    A D90 should be usable up to ISO 800+ if you expose properly. Even my crappy D60 can do ISO 800 in a pinch.

    You will never get your DoF large enough to get all of them and keep your shutter speed high enough to stop motion unless you want to add a bunch of light (unless you're going to go get a D3S and use ISO 102,000 or whatever crazyness they are doing now).

    My best advice would be to acclimate them to you. How does one do this, you might ask. Well, you take a shirt, a pair of pants and some leaves or hay. You staple the pants and shirt together, then stuff them with the leaves or hay. Make a head out of cardboard, tape it to a stick and shove it down the neck of the shirt. This makes a passable human mock-up and you sit it in a chair for a few days to a few weeks and let them get used to it. Then replace the dummy with yourself and, presto, you're closer to the birds than you could have imagined.

    Course, by the time that works, the chicks may be gone.

    EDIT: Now if you're really interested in getting the chicks, your best bet might be to set up your camera low to the ground and very close to the feeding area and use the short end of your lens to get a really wide DoF even with a fairly large aperture and thus keep your shutter speed up. Wide angle lenses can make for some phenomenal wild life shots.
     
  5. tom beard

    tom beard TPF Noob!

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    Thanks Ben, I first shot this with my 70-300 kit zoom tight on the feeding plate but missed the focus. I did shoot low (hung the camera upside down on the tripod). You've gotten me into the ball park. Rather than trying for extreme dof, I'll just divide it into two shots. By the way, they didn't show up today and it's sprinkling. I hope I get them before they get too big. Thanks again, Tom B. PS: Thanks for the dummy idea. I'm fresh out of straw, but I can use balloons and fill my dummy up with hot air! TB
     

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