Wildlife cropping, what are the rules? (Buzzards)

Discussion in 'Nature & Wildlife' started by ErectedGryphon, Nov 8, 2009.

  1. ErectedGryphon

    ErectedGryphon TPF Noob!

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    From what I have seen in this section, when cropping wildlife, most people center the subject instead of using the rule of thirds. So today I shot this photo and cropped it using both methods, I like the way both came out, but they "feel" different to me. It's hard to explain, but maybe you can "feel" what I mean, and explain it to me? I'm new to shooting wildlife and am trying to learn what I can, though 95% of what I shoot is unusable, I'll blame my auto-focus, for now... ;)

    #1 Some type of buzzard maybe? (I stumbled upon them eating someones dead pet, they discarded in the woods)
    [​IMG]

    #2 Same shot, different crop.

    [​IMG]

    Camera: Canon 5D
    Lens: Canon 300mm f/4L IS USM
    ISO: 100
    Exposure: 1/100 @ f/4.0

    Thanks in advance for any constructive comments!
     
  2. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    The rule is (and listen close) there ain't no rule ;)
    The reason you see so many shots in wildlife which have a very centred subject is because most people who shoot action based subjects in often overgrown or complex scenes tend to set the camera so that only the middle af point is active. That way they can point the camera direct at the subject they want to take the photo of and have the camera lock onto that - rather than let the camera pick the AF point because then its always going to pick the closest thing it can (that is how AF works) to focus on which might not be the thing you want it to.
    Also (especailly the case for lower end camera bodies) the middle AF points tend to be the most accurate and fastest AF points with the outer ones being decent, but no where near as good. In the mid and higher range bodies the edge AF points are far more refined.

    However after saying that there are no rules - well there are some guidlines you can follow - first one is to have frame in teh direction of travel or the subject or the direction of its attention (with most animals if they are moving their attention is also in that direction.) Its important to have frame for them to move into if they are moving or frame to look into if they are looking - if the viewers eye hits the edge of the frame when following that the shot feels constricted.
    The rule of thirds is also a good guidline to follow when composing as well and certainly it gives a good basic starting point for being more creative with composure.

    Of course composing without needing to crop in the field is a very good skill to master and certainly means better resulting images since you will no longer have to crop away and lose frame when finishing the shot.

    If I take the example of your shot above if I were to crop it I would cut away the top areas above the bird and the ares to the left of the bird - leaving a little space to his left and above him (so as not to constrict the framing around the bird) but also leaving space to the right and the lower part of the shot. This is the area he is looking into and so it needs some framing to make it work. Though I might also crop away the green empty space below the branch as well.

    Bad photographer bad! ;)
    Ok whilst you have IS (and IS is great) I would really try to get your shutter speed up - your shooting on a 5D so noise is really nice for you. Myself I sit at ISO 200 as a base point to get that little bit of extra speed when shooting - in this case and with you camera I would have upped to ISO 400 and got a nice fast shutter speed. 1/100 is rather slow for a long lens and wildlife in general so try to get that speed up if you can. I know (bitter experience ;) ) that its very easy to let the shutter speed drop low, but its also a harsh lesson that when one gets back that it results in soft shots.

    The AF part might be helped by adjusting your AF method - looking at the framing I'm thinking that your not using your middle point and might be letting the camera choose - that is a bad move. If you do get a chance to frame offfcentre then do set the single edge AF point and use that - just get control over the AF system :)
     
  3. JamesMason

    JamesMason TPF Noob!

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  4. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Good points in that article - you might tell but I am a big fan of the close focus on the animal type shots - they are easier to compose overall ( at least I find them to be) but the article is very right in saying that in the environment shots are very valid and worth taking -but that they are more demending on your compositional skills. It's certainly something that I am finding that I am having to learn more about (sadly I don't appear to have one of those natural photographic eyes :( )
     
  5. JamesMason

    JamesMason TPF Noob!

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    Yea its quite a specific article, the others on his website are well worth a read, the zoo one is excellent.

    If any1 is interested
    mark carwardine - wildife photographer - sharks - whales - dolphins - marine - natural history - photography
     
  6. JamesMason

    JamesMason TPF Noob!

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    While we are on the subject of close focus wildlife shots, Overread is that a scottish wildcat in your avatar ?
     
  7. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    good link James - I also added it to the FAQ wildlife sticky (yah we got one of those we have ;) ). As for the photo nopes not a wildcat at all, though by the markings I'm sure there is probably some blood in there at some point. The offspring of the offspring of a stray that wandered into our home - so just your average housecat pet (and the shot is horrible when viewed large too - using a 2*TC and focusing right at the lenses min focusing distance)
     
  8. JamesMason

    JamesMason TPF Noob!

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    You can never tell by the head, its the tail that gives em away (and the size). Makes a great avatar shot tho

    Just been checking out the survival website, love the can a chocolate method for fire. Tho personally i prefer a ciggie lighter.
     
  9. Rifleman1776

    Rifleman1776 TPF Noob!

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    I'm not a fan of having a lot of nothing in a picture. The subject is what matters. Especially with an unusual subject like a buzzard. As long as the quality doesn't fall apart, your close up is the way to go.
     
  10. pugnacious33

    pugnacious33 TPF Noob!

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    I think in shot number one, you've got too much space above the bird and tree. In the second shot you cropped in too close and lost detail. I think a balance between the two would be perfect. Nice shot though.
     
  11. leighthal

    leighthal TPF Noob!

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    I love turkey vultures. They make me smile. Do you think it is their ugliness that makes them so fascinating? Kind of like that ugly cousin you can't help love.
    Also on the make me smile list.... overreads comment. Nicely done critique and information! I especially liked this part.

    I like when members divulge their base settings and then what they would have done in the photos case. It makes much more sense to me when I see it put together. (((Thanks overread))))
     
  12. ErectedGryphon

    ErectedGryphon TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for all he great input, I will definately look at those articles this evening when I have some free time.
     

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