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DMN

A day in the life of a clay pigeon

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The guys were out shooting clays and I thought maybe it would be good practice to take the camera and do some panning.

The shots were with a 400 lens, I focused on the area they would get hit at, and then set manual focus. I also shot jpegs and high speed burst mode because I was unsure when they would fire. It was not as hard as I thoght it would be.

On the way.

2008-07-06-clay1.jpg

Beginning of the hit.

2008-07-06-clay2.jpg

It's all over now.

2008-07-06-clay3.jpg

I would maybe try auto focus next time to see if they would be better.

Thanks

Dan

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Clays are probably one of the hardest things to shoot in my opinion. With the camera, not the shotgun. We had some fun on mancation earlier this year and got some shots of clays bursting similar to yours. Depending on the camera model you have, if you can set the focus to AI Servo autofocus mode so it locks and tracks focus on the clay it will make things a lot easier. My camera body lacks AI servo making moving targets pretty tough to get. If you get really good at tracking them with your camera, setting it to use only one focus point might help, or it could hinder. Practice makes better, cause no photographer can claim to be perfect.

Keep up the good work. The timing on these shots is right on, love the dust shots. It is satisfying to get a duster with the 12 gauge but more so with the camera in my opinion.

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polar, I am going to try Servo mode next time, I thought the lens maybe would hunt too much before I got on the pigeon, these guys were not giving me much time to shoot before the pigions were dust.

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DMN, you used a good approach to get these shots. For my own shots I'd use the approach Tom suggested, which is how I photograph birds in flight.

As for the lens hunting, it helps if you manually turn the focus ring to get to approximately the distance you'll be picking up the clay pigeon. That gives the camera/lens less work to do initially to pick up the bird.

Which body and lens are you using?

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xt,

That was my thought also, that it would be good practice for bird in flight shots.

stf,

I was using a Canon 40D and Canon 100-400 L lens ceenter focus point.

I use AI Servo for bird in flight also, on the clays, they have some trees in the background and I was afraid it would hunt too much, but maybe starting out focused a ways out and keeping my finger off the shutter button until I am tracking good and they are above the tees will work. My finger doesn't allways listen to me you know.

Thanks

Dan

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Dan, that delay technique is a good one. That combo is plenty fast in Al servo. I used a 20D/30D and the 100-400 for about four years for most of my BIF shots, and it works great. Center focus point is definitely the way to go. Because you're panning for your shots, you might consider IS mode 2 or shutting IS off completely.

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Dan, everyone has given you great advice on the best method for shooting a fast moving target. The 40D will have no trouble with the focus keeping up, what will be harder is to have the person with the camera keeping that center point focus on target smile It looks as if you just missed the focus, which would be very hard indeed with manual focus.

It really just plain takes practice, just like shooting them with a gun! I prefer as Steve suggested taking any IS off! You will be shooting at high enough shutter speeds that it really will provide no benefit. In fact I think it actually slows down the focus just slightly. I like the fast speeds to really freeze the pieces in flight.

Another cool thing to capture are the shooters themselves, the shell ejecting from the gun, smoke from the chamber etc. I have some old examples somewhere if you are interested.

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Thanks Dbl, I would be happy to look at some of your pics.

After tryng it now, I will have to spend more time next time and try some of these things out. I was in a hurry this time as they were about getting done shooting.

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Dan, if you are able to wait until the clay pigeon hits the clear sky background you might also try some shots after enabling all the focus points. That worked for me now and then in some situations with the 30D, and the 40D has a slightly improved focus system.

Worth some experimentation, anyway, and if you're there for the whole session this time you'll have plenty of time to try different things.

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