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Posts posted by lonestranger

  1. 2 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

    Maybe I'm not following you, but this advice sounds contrary to one of my issues.

    I would agree with you if my goal was to take artistic photos, but my primary goal is to take identifiable photos.  If I want to get a bird who's partially obscured by a leaf, branch, etc, wouldn't I be happier with a lot of depth?   I don't want the bird in the background blurred; he's my subject.  And in other situations, the background environment can give clues to the bird's identity.  Wouldn't greater depth give me a better chance of having the obscured bird in the near background be more in focus, reducing how accurately I have to focus  and saving time before taking the shot?

    Your logic is sound, Charlie Spencer, isolating the bird and having a blurred background is not necessary for ID purposes, it's an artistic preference. There are disadvantages to more depth of field though. More depth of field means a smaller aperture which means less light reaching the sensor. To compensate for the reduction in light you'll need either a slower shutter speed or a higher ISO setting, or a combination of both, to achieve a balanced exposure. In my opinion, a faster shutter speed is preferred over depth of field and I'd rather achieve that with a larger aperture than with a higher ISO setting. Check out this Depth of Field Calculator to get an idea of what you get for DOF at various distances, apertures, and lens lengths, just pick one of the cameras from the list and change the other numbers around a bit. I've used my camera which has a 1.6 crop factor and a 400mm lens for an example. According to the calculator, if I wanted one foot of depth of field to include a bird that is 25 feet away, I would need an aperture setting of F/22. That would give me roughly six inches in front and six inches behind the bird that was in focus, which would be desirable for your intentions. I'd have to slow my shutter speed down 4x what it could be if my aperture was wide open at F/5.6 though, and slower shutter speeds are typically not desirable for bird photography. Alternately, I could increase my ISO 4x higher but that's not usually desirable either. It's that exposure balancing thing, there's trade offs with each setting and slower shutter speeds and/or higher ISO settings are the trade off for more depth of field from using a smaller aperture.

    • Like 1
  2. 6 minutes ago, cruise791@aol.com said:

    Thank you.  Wish I could find the orig post!!  M.A.

    If you click on your name in the top right of the screen and then click Profile, you should see your older posts and such. Clicking on the title of one will take you to that particular thread.


  3. 1 hour ago, AGwilliam said:

    South eastern Ontario, a pair of birds spotted for the first time. Very shy so no photos yet. Robin size foraging on ground under bird feeders. F is mainly brown with some lighter plumage and blends in well with the leaves, M has bold stripes black and white on head and a soft grey/beige chest and underbelly. I have trawled through photos online all day and cannot find anything but if i had to guess, some kind of thrush or cowbird. Please help!

    White-crowned sparrow is my guess based on the description provided, and knowing first hand how easy it is to mis-judge size. When I first joined the forum about 10 years ago, I argued for days that the yellow bird in one of my photos was way too big to be a goldfinch. I'm still embarrassed by the way I argued with the experts that my bird was too big to be an american goldfinch. I look at the photo now and wonder how I could have missed the goldfinch field marks and have ruled them out just because of the size, it was obviously a goldfinch but I was hung up on the size, which I had misjudged. A photo or two, even bad ones, would be a big help with the ID, and help rule out any possible confusion about the size.

    • Like 1
  4. 40 minutes ago, Charlie Spencer said:

    That's the second recommendation to aperture mode I've read in the last week.  Until now I've left aperture on auto, assuming I would get better results by not messing with something I didn't understand.  I don't get how the amount of light I let in will lead to sharper images, but I don't need to understand it to play with it.



    If you're going to use one of the semi auto modes, I would also recommend Aperture Priority and peter571's suggestions. By setting the Aperture wide open and allowing maximum light to reach the sensor, you'll see sharper images because of the faster shutter speeds you'll get. Less light means slower shutter speeds, which runs the risk of blurring from camera shake or subject movement. Whether you use Aperture or Shutter Priority, you'll need to set two of the three variables yourself in order to get the desired effect. If you only set one of the variables, you're allowing the camera to control the other two variables and you'll have to trust me when I say the camera will get it wrong under certain conditions. As an example, if you set your camera on Shutter Priority and just set the shutter speed to 1/800, the camera might use an aperture of F/5.6 and an ISO of 800 or it might close down the aperture to F/16 and push the ISO up to 6400 to get the same exposure. By dialing in two of the three variables, shutter speed and ISO or aperture and ISO, the camera only has one variable to control and it's more likely to give you the desired results. I hope that's helpful and not more confusing.

    • Like 1
  5. On 5/5/2019 at 12:29 PM, Administrator said:

    Is there anyway for us to increase the Like's limit, or is there a serious reason we have kept it where it is.

    That's a good question, one that has been asked many times, in many ways. Perhaps you could find an answer by going to the Admin panel and checking,  Members > Reputation & Reactions > Reactions. Or you might try going to the Invision Community Forum and log in with your client ID and ask them. You'll likely get answers as a client of Invision that the members of Whatbird can't get for you.

  6. I spotted this chickadee last weekend that looked a little disheveled at first glance.



    When the bird turned it's head I saw why it looked so disheveled. I'm not sure if it's avian pox or a wound, but it doesn't look good for the bird.



    Here's a cropped view.


    • Sad 1
  7. 1 hour ago, Charlie Spencer said:

    Do I understand from your post that you have a ton of used hardware you'd like to sell?  :classic_biggrin:

    Unfortunately, no. I still have some of my old gear for specific situations but I have sold most of the redundant gear to recoup some of the money spent on newer gear. If you had of been in the market this time last year, I could have set you up with a decent DSLR, a 400mm prime lens, a 2x extender, and a 100mm macro lens. If you're in the market for used gear, I suggest checking out keh.com, if nothing else, it'll give you an idea of what kind of prices to look for and/or avoid on amazon or eBay.

  8. 19 minutes ago, Charlie Spencer said:

    I've never understood ISO.

    ISO, put simply, is just one of the three settings that controls the exposure/brightness. With everything else being equal, meaning the same shutter speed and aperture settings, a higher ISO setting will produce a brighter photo than lower ISO settings. By increasing the ISO from 100 to 200, the photo will be twice as bright, increasing the ISO to 400 means the photo will be 4x brighter than when using an ISO setting of 100. Doubling the ISO can also allow you to double your shutter speed though. As an example, lets say that I have properly exposed shot if I set my ISO at 100, my shutter speed at 1/100, and my aperture wide open at F/5.6. If I double my ISO to 200 and double my shutter speed to 1/200, I will end up with the same exposure. If I increase my ISO to 800 that means I can increase my shutter speed to 800 and still have the same exposure. If I double that again to ISO 1600, then I can double my shutter speed again and still have a proper exposure at 1/1600 shutter speed. Exposure is a balancing act, increasing the ISO will brighten the photo to the point of over exposure unless you balance it out with one of the other settings. While increasing the ISO is prone to increasing the noise, not increasing it can lead to using too slow a shutter speed which is prone to the blurring effects of camera shake and/or subject movement. Film speed or ISO is the same on digital cameras as it was on film cameras. The faster/higher the film speed or ISO is, the faster shutter speed you can use. 

    That's my spin on ISO. For a more professional description and tips on how to best utilize the setting,  I found David Peterson's writings to be easiest to comprehend. http://www.digital-photo-secrets.com/tip/1625/your-cameras-settings-iso-speed/

    • Like 1
  9. On 4/22/2019 at 2:43 PM, Charlie Spencer said:

    I'm asking for advice and experiences regarding making the transition from a P&S to a DSLR. 

    I switched from P&S to DSLR for a few reasons. I wanted a faster camera with more frames per second. I wanted more megapixels, because more is always better, right? I wanted better photos, and DSLRs are capable of out performing P&S in image quality. Basically, my first few P&S cameras got me hooked on wildlife photography and then I wanted bigger, better, faster, etc. After doing some research, I bought my first DSLR and a 70-300mm lens. My image quality instantly jumped to a whole new level and I was quite happy with my purchase. After a while I started to get frustrated though, my lens didn't have the reach that I really needed to get me close enough to most of the birds I shot, so I invested in a 50-500mm lens. The longer lens quickly took my photography to another whole new level and I was quite happy with my purchase. After a while the camera manufacturer came out with a new model that had some features that I thought I needed so I bought a second DSLR and I was happy with my purchase. After a while I started to notice that my images had a lot of noise/grain/speckling in them and soon realized that the 2x crop factor(smaller sensor) in my DSLR was contributing to my noise issues, so I changed manufactures and bought a whole new set up. I bought a camera with a 1.6 crop factor and a 400mm prime lens(no zoom) since most of my shots were always at maximum zoom and seldom did I need a shorter focal length. My image quality jumped to a whole new level, again, and yet again I was happy with my purchase. After a while I bought a 2x extender for my lens and although I seldom used it, I was quite happy with it's performance when it did get used but that 2x 400mm combination was limited to being mounted on the tripod so it got used less and less. The 2x extender also wouldn't auto focus on my camera so using it had the added frustration of trying to manually focus my shots, sometimes I got it right, sometimes I missed. A newer version of my camera came on the market that allowed for centre point auto focus with a 1.4 extender so I bought the new version camera and the 1.4x extender and was quiet happy with my purchase. After a while I decided that I wanted the newest version of my camera manufacturer's 100-400mm lens, which not only had image stabilization that my 400mm prime lens was lacking, the 100-400 zoom lens was also claimed to be as sharp as the 400mm prime lens, which I can't dispute, it's a great piece of glass. I am now noticing that my images are often noisier than I'd like, especially in low light conditions such as early morning or late evening. I push my ISO up higher than I should so that I can get fast enough shutter speeds in those situations, and the results often show noise that I'd rather not be there. In order to get rid of the noise from high ISO settings I will need to invest in a full frame camera with a bigger sensor that produces little to no noise at the same or hopefully even higher ISO settings than I currently limit myself to. A full frame camera would also allow for multi-point focus options with either extender. Yes, a full frame camera is now on my wish list. So that's my experience in purchasing camera gear, I learned a lot of lessons about what I needed/wanted the hard/expensive way. Knowing what I know today, I would have saved myself a bundle of money and bought a full frame camera, a third party 150-600mm lens, and then round out my setup with a 70-200 F/2.8, which is a workhorse of a lens, and a shorter zoom lens for the fewer landscape shots I take.

    All the while I was making mistakes about my camera gear purchases, I was learning more and more about photography. I started off in auto mode with my P&S cameras and tried the various semi-auto settings like Program Mode, Sports Mode, Aperture Priority Mode, Shutter Priority Mode where I could control things a bit but the camera still took care of getting the exposure right for me. I found that I could use Aperture priority to set my lens to it's fastest/largest aperture, set the ISO to a fixed setting of my choosing, and the camera would come up with the right shutter speed for a proper exposure, most of the time. When I got my first DSLR I started playing around with exposure compensation, which is used in the semi-auto modes to adjust the brightness of the shot. I was getting too many silhouette images when I was photographing birds with a bright sky behind them so I learned that I needed to set my exposure compensation to +1, +2, or sometimes +3 in order to get the bird exposed properly in those situations. I had a hard time remembering to reset my exposure compensation after shooting birds up high with the sky/clouds behind them when it came time to take a shot of a bird with a darker background behind it. I think it was about that time I decided to try full manual exposure. After all, I was setting my own aperture, setting my own ISO, and fine tuning my own exposure with the exposure compensation feature in the semi-auto modes so why not try full manual exposure. Yep, I botched a bunch of my first attempts at manual exposure but it didn't take long to learn from my mistakes and before I knew it, I was controlling the exposure and getting satisfying results. I found it so much easier to control the exposure in manual mode than in any of the auto modes, including the ones that allow exposure compensation. If a bird was in the sun, it wouldn't matter if it had a bright sky behind it or shaded bush behind it, the exposure usually didn't need to be adjusted. If the bird moved out of the sun and into the shade, I simply adjusted one setting on the camera and I was good to go. As I learned more and more, through practice, reading online sources, and the hard lesson of learning from my mistakes, I kept getting better and better shots in manual mode and would never go back to any of the auto modes. There are three basic adjustments in manual mode, aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, which are easy to adjust on most DSLRs. Learning which adjustments to make and when you need to make them is something that comes with practice/experience but once you set your exposure in manual, it doesn't need to be adjusted often, or adjusted much. If you have already learned how and when to use exposure compensation in the semi-auto modes, you already know how to set the exposure manually, you're just not doing it in manual mode.

    So, that's my experience in both purchasing and learning the controls of my cameras. Am I great photographer that you should take advise from, probably not. I consider myself to be a decent photographer with decent equipment that takes some decent photos but I admit I still have a lot to learn. If I was to offer advice on purchasing camera gear and learning how to use it, I would recommend getting a decent long lens, the longest quality lens you could afford. The better the glass is, the more likely it is that you'll like the results it produces, now and in the future. While I know that full frame cameras have better image quality than crop cameras do, I'm not sure if starting with a full frame camera is something that I'd recommend, I might suggest the idea but I wouldn't consider it a necessity. I would advise against cameras with the smaller sensors though, a 2x crop factor might give the illusion of a longer lens, but the smaller sensor simply can't capture the same detail that larger sensors can. Small sensors with 18MP means 18MP of small receptors(for lack of a better word), larger sensors with 18MP means 18MP of larger receptors. The larger the receptors, the higher the dynamic range, meaning more versatility in capturing the brightest and darkest elements without over exposing and/or under exposing the image, and less noise in the image too. As for what to learn first with a new DSLR, I'd recommend learning the cameras controls for ISO, shutter speed, and aperture, learn how to adjust them so that you can do it efficiently in the field, regardless of what mode you're using, manual or semi-auto. I highly recommend going straight to manual mode though, it's not as complicated as it may seem and it will teach you a lot quicker than any other mode on the camera. I also find it much more gratifying when I get the shot right with manual exposure, knowing that I was the one controlling the outcome of the photo and not letting the camera control it for me just brings a greater sense of satisfaction for me. 

    If something I've written is confusing, feel free to pick my brain. Just don't start asking what camera you should buy. :classic_laugh:

    • Like 3
  10. Sorry @Charlie Spencer, I think I may have quoted @Spyonabird from a quote you used in your post. I was actually just commenting on what Spyonabird said about trying to get it right in the camera so that cropping isn't necessary. I am the one saying that cropping is undesirable, meaning that it's better to fill the frame with the bird when possible, but I seldom have that luxury. Sorry for any confusion there. 

    • Like 1
  11. 4 hours ago, Spyonabird said:

    I may crop to get the final composition but I really try to get a good shot in the camera.

    That's the best way to get the best photos, get the capture the way you want it in the camera when you press the shutter button and post processing becomes so much easier. Getting a shot like @pictaker's towhee photo composed in the camera(DSLR) would require a substantially longer lens than I have access to, or a stuffed towhee. :classic_laugh:  I need to be within 5 feet of the bird to fill my frame with a bird that size. I think that the better the gear is and the better the photographer is, the more you can get away with cropping without it being detrimental to the finished product. Starting with a tack sharp photo in the camera gives you more flexibility when it comes time to crop. If the focus is off just a little though, cropping will only emphasize that fact the more you crop. Don't get me wrong, I agree that cropping is undesirable, but in practicality, it's an essential tool for me.

    • Like 1
  12. 4 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

    I enabled the Thirds grid on my view finder but you know birds.  They rarely stay where the grid lines intersect!

    I shoot all of my bird photos with the bird centered in the middle of the frame. Centre point focus and spot metering is my default setting so that's where my subject needs to be, in the middle. If we knew before hand which way a bird was going to face, left or right, we could set the focus point on the camera accordingly for compositional reasons, we'd need to reset the focus point to the other side every time the bird turned it's head though. I think most bird photographers shoot centre point focus and rely on cropping to finalize or fine tune the rule of thirds or other compositional ideas. I know I can't adjust the camera's focus point back and forth fast enough every time a bird turns it's head/body so I shoot my birds in the centre and worry about all compositional factors in post processing. With birds in flight I usually expand my focal points from a single center point to the maximum focus points for tracking purposes but my composition work is all done on the computer. I'm happy to just get a bird in flight in the frame, I don't have time to think about composition, I'm too busy just trying to keep the bird in the frame. 

    • Like 4
  13. 1 hour ago, Charlie Spencer said:

    For example, how much cropping is too much or not enough?  I see @lonestranger's cropped photo above and wonder how the decision was reached to cut the bottom where it is instead of further down or up, or why the  bird's shoulder is chopped on the left, or why crop it at all.

    On the example I posted, my thought was simply to magnify the part of the photo that I found most interesting. There wasn't really much compositional or artistic thought involved, I just wanted the bits and pieces on the bird's bill to be easily noticed. Could I have gotten that effect with less of a crop? Maybe. Could I have cropped it a little bit more? Maybe. I just cropped until I thought the bill was magnified enough. Was it too much, not enough, should I have taken more from one side and less from another? Questions like that go through my mind all the time. When you find out how to answer those questions for yourself, maybe you could help answer them for me. :classic_laugh:

    2 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

    Other post-processing options befuddle me, again because I don't know how to define 'better' or 'finished'.  I get hung on the details and it turns into a chore.

    I can totally relate to that ^. I don't like post processing and have often considered going back to shooting in JPG mode just so I don't have decide what looks right as far as exposure, contrast and saturation goes. I've read lots and learned a fair bit about post processing, but I am far from good at it, which makes it less enjoyable and more like a chore, like you said. I'll still play around with my images and sometimes find something worth sharing, but when processing becomes work, I tend to leave them sitting in the unprocessed folders and no one but me ever looks at them. 

    • Like 1
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  14. I can't get the original photo to look remotely like your cropped photo. Everything gets far too distorted to see the bird(?) when I try to zoom in to the same proportions as your crop. I suspect your original(2nd) photo is being resized somewhere in the upload process and wonder if we're actually seeing the original photo in it's true original size. If you have a flickr account, perhaps you could upload your original photo there and maybe, just maybe, we'll be able to see the true original better when we zoom in. Sorry, but I can't even ID the bird as a bird when I zoom in on it in this photo.

  15. Is it possible this is actually a bird in the air and not in the water? I see what looks like a fanned out tail with a dark band at the bottom of bird, making me wonder if what appears to be the head of a grebe in water is possibly the curl of a bird's wing where both upper and lower parts of the wing are visible making it look like a grebe's head. Perhaps a bird of prey after something in the water? I'm probably way off but that's what my imagination sees when I zoom in on the bird. Keep in mind that my imagination has been known to work better than my eyes now and then. :classic_laugh:

    • Like 1
  16. I can't speak for the "amazing" photos but I usually have to crop most of my bird photos to some extent, especially to get that "close up" effect. The closer I am to the bird to start with means less cropping is required, which usually results in better photos. On some occasions the bird is close enough that cropping isn't required at all and those situations usually produce the best photos, but that's a small percentage of the time, a very small percentage. Obviously, the bigger the bird is the easier it is to fill the frame with the bird and the less I'll need to crop. Smaller birds are harder to fill the frame even when I'm close, so they'll get cropped more often and cropped more severely if I'm after that close up look. Here's an example of a close up photo before and after cropping. 





    33954418966_078ec8b816_c.jpgIMG_5424 by lonestranger102, on Flickr

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