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Jim Almquist

Sunday at the bog

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Thanks to some really helpful tips from Steve (stfcatfish) I went back with a plan to see if I could get my 100-400 to take sharper pictures or did I just have that soft of a copy . I used a tripod all day and used my flash on all shots the way Steve set his up. I really improved all my shots by lowering my ISO and using the flash for fill. THANKS Steve for the tips. Now I am ready for that Great Gray. grin

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Jim, glad to be of help.

Nice work here. The first chicks still look a bit soft, but the final chickadee and all the rest look sharp, and it looks like you got the flash dialed in really well because there are no harshly-lit telltales. I really like using selective sharpening. I'll lasso the subject and sharpen it alone so the BG doesn't get all grainy as it does when one sharpens the whole image. One more way to further sharpen up images from that zoom is to stop down to f8. It makes a noticeable difference. I routinely shot mine at f8, and preferred iso400 or iso800 to make sure I had the shutter speed to handle it.

As a compromise between handheld and the tripod, check out the Manfrotto 680B monopod. That's the one I use, and it's sturdy enough to mount a Toyota Tundra on. gringrin

Seriously, with the 100-400 and its IS, coupled with a strong monopod, you've got a lethal photographic weapon that's much more nimble/flexible than a tripod. I put a Manfrotto 486RC2 ballhead on mine. You don't really need a ballhead on a monopod, but because it has a quick-release plate, it allows me to detach from the head/monopod and go handheld at the flick of a lever. Each runs about $70. And I can use the ballhead on another tripod when I want to do tripod work.

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I went back and yes they are softer. I tried for the most part to aim at one branch but you know how that works out- They go to the other branch. I was going to ask if that was the model you used just because of how short it got. Much easier to take in and out of the truck and to chase down the road.

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The way to get really serious about managing a scene for birds coming to food is to eliminate (trim out) all but one or two simple perches within a couple feet of the food source. By leaving only a couple options (in my back yard I leave only one), and by trimming busy twigs in the immediate background, you can set up with the confidence that birds staging to and from the food source will use the perches you've left. The fewer perches available, the more likely you'll be dialed in when the moment comes.

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I was going to make sure I keep a pruning shear in the truck just for cleaning up both spots. Jay was telling me about a tree at Ribs 2 and it needs some trimming so we can get better Hairy and Downy shots.

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