Help with Exposure

Discussion in 'Nature & Wildlife' started by jmthompson, Dec 17, 2008.

  1. jmthompson

    jmthompson TPF Noob!

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    Hi! I am new to TPF, and I am hoping someone can help me with an exposure question. I photograph birds from my office window through the glass using a Canon 40D and Canon 70-200 2.8L IS lens. I am having alot of trouble getting the correct exposure when there are birds on my feeder with snow in background. The birds are always too dark. Any suggestions would be great!
    [​IMG]

    1/1000
    f3.2
    Aperture Priority
    ISO 320
    Exposure +1.3 in camera

    If I turn down the shutter speed, I get blown highlights from the snow in the background, but the birds are better exposed. I feel like I have tried everything, but I am sure there is something I have left out!

    Here is another one I took the same day ~ it was 20 below F in South Dakota and the birds were just trying to stay warm!
    [​IMG]
    This poor guy has ice crusted around his eyes!
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I think you have answered your own question...
    I think your problem is that you are trying to keep both ends of the spectrum in a single exposure...and you can't do that when the range is too great.

    If the background is that much brighter than the birds...and you expose for the birds, then the background will be blown out...not much you can do about that. It's a choice that the photographer must make.

    Now, there are ways around it...like taking multiple exposures and combining them with software but that's hard to do with moving subjects. You could shoot in RAW and process the image separately for both highlights and shadows, then combine them....or maybe you just selectively edit a single shot.
     
  3. Kegger

    Kegger TPF Noob!

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    Spot metering, sure you'll blow out the snow, but snow is white so who cares. lol
     
  4. jmthompson

    jmthompson TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for your quick reply! I do shoot in RAW, and I did adjust the exposure quite a bit in Photoshop also, but I didn't want to overdo it. I will try processing one image for the highlights and one for the shadows and combine them and see how that works. That is something I haven't tried yet, and I am always up for something new!!!
    Thanks again!
     
  5. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    The only other trick would be to use fill flash - expose for the snow and use the flash to fill in the light needed on the birds. Depending on the range you might need a better beamer attachemnt to get more range out of the light from the flash - though if your using the 70-200mm without a TC and getting shots like that I think you should be well in range if you have a decent flash like a speedlite - though you will have to open the window ;)
     
  6. jmthompson

    jmthompson TPF Noob!

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    I had thought about trying my Speedlight, but at 20- F, opening the window is NOT an option!! Especially with these guys waiting to come in!!!
    [​IMG]

    :D
     
  7. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    nice :)
    I like that - cheeky little things that they are!

    but the solution is simple - get an off camera flash cord, drill a hole in the window frame and push the cord through - then stick your flash on the outside of the window :)

    of course this might not be the safest thing for the flash - and your boss might have things to say about holes in the building!
     
  8. jmthompson

    jmthompson TPF Noob!

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    That's really not a bad idea, and I have a home office, so..... I wonder how long I could hide it from my husband! Probably better not. :grumpy: He cusses the birds nonstop as it is (I think the heated birdbath put him over the edge)!
     
  9. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    You could mount a flash in the tree and use a wireless trigger....now we are talking. :D
     
  10. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    heated birdbath - my your birds live in style! :)

    and the only downside I can see from remote flashes outside would possibly be reduced battery time due to the cold - I don't know if this would affect recyle times at all?
     
  11. jmthompson

    jmthompson TPF Noob!

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    Now THAT my husband would love... a little bird demolition derby every time my flash went off because they would all be flying around blind! :clap:
     
  12. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    depends - sometimes animals show no reaction to flash at all - I have taken photos of wild birds close up and they didn't take any notice at all. If you use a decent diffuser the light should not be to intense. They might take some getting used to the idea and they might not take to it at all - it all depends.
     

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