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panthrcat

ruffed grouse take 2

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I think I have a post here on partridge or ruffed grouse, so figured I'd label this one as #2.

I went out yesterday and got a few cool pics of some birds.

here's a few:

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I love these. I had to look at what you were using for settings, because for the apparent light, you certainly got the clarity and detail. Even catch lights. Do you generally use spot metering, or was that chosen specifically for this series?

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I love these. I had to look at what you were using for settings, because for the apparent light, you certainly got the clarity and detail. Even catch lights. Do you generally use spot metering, or was that chosen specifically for this series?

I generally use spot metering,, I thought that was the best for the type of pics I take,, no? could you enlighten me a bit on which is better to use under which circumstances?

thank you for the comment

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Beautiful brown eyes on these birds, which is something a person doesn't normally realize until they see a good close up photo.

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I generally use spot metering,, I thought that was the best for the type of pics I take,, no? could you enlighten me a bit on which is better to use under which circumstances?

thank you for the comment

I was asking because I am always looking for advice. These exposures looked as if they would be really tough, but I like the results. I tend to like things a little darker, a little more shadowy. However, that makes it really difficult to get enough shutter speed for clarity and detail. I thought you were using some really creative settings for the situation. The 200 ISO surprised me. I have only tried spot metering once without much success, but when I read about it, it seemed to make sense for the situation. Maybe the experts can fill us in.

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Nice work in very tough lighting conditions, Sue. Hard to get pretty images with detail in the shadows when the subject is shaded and the background is sunlit. You did well.

FYI, I generally don't use spot metering in contrasty situations because it's too easy to put the focus point on a spot that gives you a wrong exposure.

Example: You're shooting a Canada goose at close range, and your focus point on spot metering is on its white cheek. Then the whole image gets exposed based on that white cheek. And remember, the meter wants to expose for mid-range values, so it's going to UNDEREXPOSE the white cheek to the point where it looks more gray. That means you'll have to brighten the whole image in post processing, which is no trouble in itself. But, ooops, there comes all that digital noise in the underexposed shadow areas when you brighten the image.

There are times spot metering works quite well. But with my style of shooting when I'm out and about bombing around in the vehicle or walking trails or bushwacking, you never know what you're going to find, so I most always leave it on evaluative metering, which takes in the exposure values of the whole scene and works out the best exposure based on the scene. It has its limitations, as does any metering system, but I've found it the best for what I want to do most of the time.

When I need to make exposure adjustments on the fly I generally just use exposure compensation, which is much faster than fooling with a metering system adjustment.

For static situations or when light is very consistent, I'll use manual exposure mode, which for a variety of reasons can give you clear advantages. Situations like that include studio work, macro work such as flowers, and outdoors when the lighting is even.

A bit about manual settings outdoors on nature subjects. This works poorly on partly cloudy days or other days when the light comes in and out, but on days when it's uniformly sunny or fully cloudy, it can be excellent.

Let's take birds-in-flight as an example in these conditions. I use evaluative metering first, taking a test shot of a bird. Then I check my histogram to see if the bird itself is exposed properly. If it is, I switch the dial to manual and duplicate the shutter speed and aperture settings and I'm good to go as long as the light stays pretty consistent. If the histo shows I've under- or over-exposed the bird, I'll adjust using EC until I get it right, then I'll adopt those settings on manual.

Here's why manual can be so great in situations like BIF and some others. Once you've got exposure dialed in on the subject itself, every frame, no matter what background the bird flies in front of, will produce a properly exposed bird. If you allow the automatic metering to do the job (any of the metering modes), your exposures will vary based on the background through which the bird flies, and that mean a badly exposed (sometimes blown out, sometimes underexposed) bird on some frames. Usually seems to happen JUST when the bird is at its best pose, too. Even with spot metering and center-weighted metering this happens to some degree, but not on manual settings. It works equally well on any subject in consistent light that moving around a lot, whether it's sports, outdoor weddings, parades, etc.

It takes some getting used to, for sure, and an underlying message that's just as important is to get familiar enough with your camera body and settings (and to develop the discipline to remember what your settings are) that you can make adjustments and readjustments easily. And then it's also important to return your camera to whatever settings you normally use for bombing around.

If I'm on manual settings and iso100, with a shutter speed of 3 sec and an aperture of f22 with mirror lock-up enabled and a remote shutter release mounted (like for macro flower work), after I'm finished but before I start walking down the trail I'll return settings to iso400, wide open aperture and Av mode, pull off the remote release and disable mirror lock-up, because I'd hate to have a wolf jump into the trail in front of me with my camera still locked on the macro settings. It might be a hassle to re-set the camera farther down the trail when I find another macro subject for my attention, but that's just part of the way photography works.

Sorry if that was a bit long and rambling.

Also, as always, this represents my experience and my photographic philosophy. Your results may vary, and as we continually find, there are often a number of different ways to accomplish the same effect.

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Let's take birds-in-flight as an example in these conditions. I use evaluative metering first, taking a test shot of a bird. Then I check my histogram to see if the bird itself is exposed properly. If it is, I switch the dial to manual and duplicate the shutter speed and aperture settings and I'm good to go as long as the light stays pretty consistent. If the histo shows I've under- or over-exposed the bird, I'll adjust using EC until I get it right, then I'll adopt those settings on manual.

But, what if a bird comes flying by behind you? wink

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Thank you. Once again that was very helpful. I am not a bif shooter. I have enough problems when they sit still on a branch, but I did get some pifs (pelicans)yesterday with some success for the first time. Make the bird big enough and the day windy enough, I guess. But I did experience exactly what you describe with changing backgrounds. Your method would have worked well in the situation. Fortunately, there is one that I moved my exposure compensation in exactly the wrong direction over water, so when he flew up in front of trees, he came out about right. Happy accident. Good reminder on the resetting to your normal settings when finished. Aarrrgh! When I have forgotten, it usually does not result in a happy accident. Thanks.

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Huh? confused

If you set your camera to manual on a uniformly suuny day, the exposure will be completely different if the sun is behind you, vs. in front of you. In other words, you have the perfect manual exposure dialed in for a bird flying out front, but if a bird comes from behind you, and you turn around and shoot, the sun will now be in front of you. On manual, you would now be off by a at least 1 full stop. Then again, if you are shooting into the sun, you won't end up with that good of a photo ayway. smile

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Then again, if you are shooting into the sun, you won't end up with that good of a photo ayway. smile

Exactly. Unless I'm on a rare species or trying for backlit effects, or there's some compelling behavior going on, I never shoot birds in flight anymore unless the sun is at a good angle. Why take a photo I know I'm not going to like?

I think you'll find, however, that even if you are shooting a backlit bird, there almost always are some edges visible to the camera that have the sun on them, and if you expose for the shaded bird those highlights will be badly blown out. Of course, by exposing for those highlights you'll have a lot of noise in the shaded portions, but Noise Ninja or other noise reduction software was made for situations like that, and if I'm trying for backlighting I'm not interested in developing more shadow detail in the subject.

Just my way of looking at it. smile

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you folks are soooo good! thanks again for all the info and tips,, I like to print them and keep them on hand, I take this stuff with me on my night shifts and always do some studying and reading,, then I get to try new things on my days off!

thanks all!!!

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