How to meter white birds/BIF

Discussion in 'Nature & Wildlife' started by SuzukiGS750EZ, Jun 21, 2019.

  1. SuzukiGS750EZ

    SuzukiGS750EZ No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Hey guys. I shoot with a canon 80D & mostly a tamron 150-600 G2. I'm getting mixed results when shooting. Before I go into detail about my simple and probably wrong process, can someone explain to me how to shoot white birds in flight or in the water and expose properly. I usually shoot 1/2000 f8 or f5 depending on situation and focal length. The birds I shoot most are osprey and egrets. I find some of my shots to be less than pleasing to me. Here is a shot I think I did ok on, but normally the osprey are really dark or the egrets are blown out.

    IMG_0114


     
  2. snowbear

    snowbear fuzzy-wuzzy Supporting Member

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    I'm guessing the meter is reading the darker background, which is ta larger part of the scene. Try spot metering or drop the exposure a bit. You might be able to test settings shooting a small white paper plate taped to a darker surface like a wall or tree.
     
  3. RVT1K

    RVT1K No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I agree with trying spot metering when shooting birds. Just make sure the spot is actually on the bird.
    I'm more concerned with the bird being well exposed as opposed to the surroundings.
     
  4. zombiesniper

    zombiesniper Furtographer Extraordinaire! Supporting Member

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    Spot metering is best for this. You may have to also use + on the exposure comp in order to get the bid the right colour. 1/2-3/4 exp comp normally will do it.
    Even if the spot meter is calculating for the white, it will want to bring it back to about a 13% grey. That's where using the exposure comp comes in to bring it back to white.
     
  5. SuzukiGS750EZ

    SuzukiGS750EZ No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    How do you get the meter/exposure ready before the shot? I do spot meter but shooting BIF things change on the fly.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2019
  6. RVT1K

    RVT1K No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    If you've set the shutter and f-stop, the exposure is going to be determined by the ISO you set the camera to. What mode do you typically use i.e. aperture priority, shutter priority...

    Spot metering is a camera setting that forces the camera to only look at a very small spot in the entire frame and base the exposure on that small area

    But you've also highlighted one of the challenges of nature photography and that is vastly changing conditions.

    You need to be prepared to get a lot more misses than hits.
     
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  7. SuzukiGS750EZ

    SuzukiGS750EZ No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I shoot full manual, but as you mention... I choose Auto ISO. Is that my downfall?
     
  8. RVT1K

    RVT1K No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    It may contribute but I still feel that the mixed exposure results are from the camera meetering from something other than the bird you are shooting at the time. I'm also basing that on the good pictures you posted, you got it right in those.

    There's lots of ways to get to the same place. I almost exclusively use aperture priority when shooting to control the DOF and adjust the ISO to get a shutter speed I feel I need for the situation.
     
  9. snowbear

    snowbear fuzzy-wuzzy Supporting Member

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    I also think the spot metering is going to be the key. You could test the ISO setting by comparing various ISO values to the Auto ISO, using your normal aperture and shutter speed ranges. Just pick a small light object to meter before you go looking for the birds.
     
  10. zulu42

    zulu42 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I don't get along with auto ISO for BIF. They move from a bright to a dark background and auto ISO is going to change the resulting exposure brightness based on the background, when the exposure for the bird shouldn't change. If you can keep your spot meter only on the bird in flight... you're a better shooter than me.

    My method is to meter the general scene to preserve highlight detail with ISO, then leave ISO unchanged unless the overall lighting conditions change. Just what currently works for me.
     
  11. weepete

    weepete TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Yes, it can be challenging. I tend to try and snap a shot and check the histogram, adjust, check till I have the ballpark settings. I did that when shooting puffins and kittywakes when they were moving from shade to sunlight. That way I knew I needed +2EC for the puffins in the sunlight, -2EC for the kittywakes in the shade, and just bounced between settings.

    Recently I was shooting some black headed gulls on a very dark background, luckily there was a swan I could meter off, and I just metered off the trees for the ospreys till I could get but they never fished. If they did i guess I would have just hit and hoped.
     
  12. ac12

    ac12 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Another option is to shoot manual, and start with the Sunny-16 rule, then adjust from there.
    That way the background lighting won't affect the exposure.
     

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