Hummingbird - C&C - help needed.

wackii

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Hi All,

Please C&C. I need help on how to improve this as I plan to come back there and take more pictures of these hummingbirds. There are quite a few colorful hummingbirds on that garden. I need some tips on how to take pictures of them on flight, etc... I can slowly approach these birds as close as 7-8 feet or so. But with my Tamron 70-300 F4-5.6 on the Nikon D5100, I am not able to take clean sharp shoots of them. I guess due to my handshake. Please see picture below. The birds are slightly bigger than my thumb (quite small). The setting is at ISO 400 (I saw noise on ISO 800), F7.1, Shutter speed is 1/60, focal length is at 300mm. If I open up the f-stop, i'm afraid not getting sharp picture all around (not that it is now - see picture). I did some cropping on this picture. I'm trying to balance this out and get a better shutter speed then 1/60 but that's the best I can do. I do have a flash, will that help? This particular hummingbird is in the shaped area plus today is overcast.
Any advice/suggestion will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.

Al,
 

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snowbear

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I like the composition and the exposure. I agree that the softness is probably due to the shutter speed and camera shake. The shutter speed guideline would be 1/300 - call it 2 stops @ 1/250, but you might be able to go one stop without too much shake.
 

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make the shutter speed higher. at 1/60 you would be better off running aperture wide open to gain shutter speed, your image will be sharper. higher shutter speed is usually a better trade off then higher aperture until you get to shutter speeds in excess of whats is needed. if possible i would try around 1/300-500, wide open, and up the iso to 800 if you needed, a little extra noise that most can be taken away in post is better then a non sharp photo. a flash might also be an option, i would just use it to add a little bit, so use it in manual mode and turn the flash compensation down -1 and start there.
 
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wackii

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Thank you Snowbear and Matthewo for your suggestions. I will try to different settings with flash and without flash. Hopefully I have a bright sunny day on this coming Saturday.
 

WesternGuy

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At 300 mm, the slowest shutter speed for the D5100 is about 1/450. You get this from the general rule of thumb that for a given lens the minimum shutter speed for handheld is 1/(focal length x crop factor). Anything slower than this and the image will be soft and/or will show hand shake affects. If you want to shoot slower than this (1/450), you will need a tripod or some other type of support for your camera. Raising the ISO will allow you to increase the shutter speed, but as you have noticed, it will increase the noise. I am not sure how you are processing your images, but the newer versions of Lightroom (now at version 4.3) are pretty good at removing noise. Alternatively there are a number of noise removal plug-ins available for both Lightroom and Photoshop. I also believe that there are some free ones around if you go looking for them on the web. I would follow mathewo's advice and shoot wide open at 1/500 or higher and even be tempted to raise the ISO to 1600 just to see what you can get. The camera has a range up to ISO 6400 and even to 25,600 if you get really desperate. As well, if you aren't shooting raw, then you should try it. My advice in situations like this is to try whatever you think might work. It's digital and if it doesn't work, you haven't lost anything but a bit of your time checking out your results. You could even try panning with flying ones using Continuous Servo to see if that helps - I know it only shoots 4 fps, but it is better than nothing. HTH.

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Luke345678

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Good job is all I can say. I stood outside my house near a Hummingbirds nest for an hour and a half and got nothing at all, lol.
 
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wackii

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Thank you for your advice Westernguy. I will try different settings. Hopefully, I get a sunny day so I can crank up my shutter speed without raising my ISO. I have lightroom 4.1 and it does have some noise removal but would it soften the pictures in a way? I'm not much of the software guy which I think I should take sometime to learn it. I do shoot RAW + JPG most of the time.

Luke, I took about 150 pictures in 2 hours and got like 4 or so pictures that are decent. Keep trying... One thing though, I did stand still and observed where he likely be and slowly approached him. If my movements disturbed him, he will go to another location which I also noticed where that is. I did have quite a few opportunities to photograph; however, it is extremely hard to take pictures of these little fellows.
 
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wackii

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I went back to the park and took some more shots. This time it's a sunny dayt but since the birds are in a shaded area, I use flash on these pictures. Settings are ISO640, f9 (1st picture), f11 (2nd pictures), 1/200 shutter speed, focal length 300mm. There are some minor noise on the pictures. I use lightroom to remove those and cropped the pictures. I like the results this time. It's so difficult to take pictures of these lil guys on flight. I did not have a good angle. Since it's a public park, people are looking at me weird when I sneak up on the birds to take pictures. I don't know if it's a good idea to bring some sugar water and put some on the flowers... hopefully, I can get some shoots on the flight...
 

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wackii

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This picture is very similar to the picture on thread #1 but sharper. Settings are ISO 640, f11, focal length 300mm, 1/200 shutter speed.
 

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WesternGuy

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Thank you for your advice Westernguy. I will try different settings. Hopefully, I get a sunny day so I can crank up my shutter speed without raising my ISO. I have lightroom 4.1 and it does have some noise removal but would it soften the pictures in a way? I'm not much of the software guy which I think I should take sometime to learn it. I do shoot RAW + JPG most of the time.

QUOTE]

These look a lot better. They seem to be sharper. It was nice for him/her to sit still for you. Don't worry about the folks looking at you kind weird - mostly they are just jealous - :mrgreen:. You should see the "looks" I get when I let loose with mine at 12 fps and a big 100-400 mm lens on it. Just tell them you are "On Assignment".:wink:

In my experience, noise removal does not usually soften a picture that much, although you may have to sharpen it up before you post it. If you are shooting raw, raw images almost always require sharpening before they can be displayed on a web site. If you have Lightroom 4.1, you should probably upgrade to 4.3. The latest release can be found here - Adobe - Lightroom : For Windows : Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4.3 for Windows and here for a Mac - Adobe - Lightroom : For Macintosh : Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4.3 . As far as noise goes, here is a link to a page with a bunch of LR tutorials and if you scroll down a bit, you will find a bit of an introduction to "Noise" - Adobe TV. There also a number of other LR tutorials here - http://tv.adobe.com/show/getting-started-with-adobe-photoshop-lightroom-4/ .

The only other advice I would give you based on your latest postings is to watch your backgrounds. In the second one (the one on the right) particularly, your background of the leaves is a bit distracting. Also, if you would mind numbering your images as you post them it makes it a lot easier for a reviewer to refer to them - thanks.

WesternGuy
 

Don Kondra

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Hi Al,

I'm not familiar with your lens but you shouldn't have to shoot over f8.

You really don't need much DOF so I would be more concerned about the "sweet" spot of the lens.

And basically if you can get the head in focus I would consider it a good shot :)

Cheers, Don
 
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wackii

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Westernguy, Thank you for the links about Lightroom. I will definitely look into. Also, I noticed the background is a little distracting but I tried not to move much because the bird might fly away. Thanks for your help.

Don, The reason why I shoot at f11 is that I want to get the whole bird sharp. I also think f8 should be good. I have a few pictures at f7.1 and those are a little soft that's why I shoot at f11. The softness caused by my shaky hands. Thanks.
 

Don Kondra

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Have you considered a monopod or a tripod ?

Do you understand what "wide open" means ?

A lower f number generally speaking will give you a shallower DOF but a faster shutter speed.

Try this, put the camera in aperture mode, set the iso to the highest you feel comfortable with and shoot at the lowest f number you can.

That will give you the fastest shutter speed possible without using flash..

Cheers, Don
 
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wackii

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Merry Xmas everyone!

Thanks Don, I do understand about shooting wide open. I am just trying to experience different setting. For some reason, when I shoot in aperture mode, my pictures come out little darker and have more noise. I've noticed that aperture mode comes out good when there are more light at the object that I focused on. That's why I am on manual mode most of the time.

Well, today my friends want to go there to capture some hummingbirds. I got one pretty cool picture I think. I am happy to be able to capture it on flight. Settings are ISO 800 (sun had already set), f5.6, 250mm, 1/40 shutter (want a lil light in the background), flash (TTL mode). I was surprised to see the wings of this lil guy.

I'm wondering why I can't attach some of the pictures. I need to resize it to be able attach this picture. Is it because of the size? Thanks,

Al,
 

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