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Everything posted by lonestranger

  1. Whether you're learning or not, an outdoor classroom is always preferable. ? While you're indoors though, here's a link to an online source of tips and tutorials that might be helpful. I found the author to be easy to read and understand and the topics are pretty much anything you could think of and some topics you may not have thought about. I took the liberty of finding a short lesson on Manual mode because of the relevance, but if you look up top you'll see links to the Tips and Tutorials and the How do I? sections where you can find all kinds of topics in a similar format as this. https://www.digital-photo-secrets.com/tip/3400/take-photos-in-manual-mode-for-a-month/
  2. That's the sad part about getting better at photography, there is a lot to learn and it can become overwhelming at times. I started out much like @Charlie Spencer and struggled to understand what other people took for granted. I'd read the camera's manual and saw how to change settings without knowing why I would want to change them or how that would affect the end results. There's still settings I have never explored and don't know why I would need them, but they're there if I ever get around to learning them. I would read online resources and see that so-and-so used this mode and took stunning photos so I would try that mode. I'd play around with that mode for a while until I picked up on something new and then I'd try another mode. Once I learned about exposure compensation I thought I had it all figured out until my bird flew from the shadows under the tree to the very top of the tree and I forgot to change the exposure compensation accordingly. I got better and better with the help of Aperture mode and exposure compensation, to the point where I was pre-setting my Aperture and ISO and just using exposure compensation to control the shutter speed. Then it dawned on me that if I was setting my own ISO, Aperture, and then using exposure compensation to control the shutter speed, I was manually controlling the exposure triangle. I then decided to get over my fears of missing that all important shot, and turned the dial to that big M for Manual exposure. I don't think I am exaggerating when I say I that learned more after a month or two of using Manual than I had in the previous 5 years. After years and years of growing as a photographer, basically because of my interest in birds, my advise to someone in the early stages of a similar interest would be this.... First, learn the basics, meaning how to access and control ISO, aperture, shutter speed, focus modes and focal points, etc. Don't worry so much about what they do but ensure that you know how to access them because they'll need to be adjusted at some point or another unless you stay in 100% Auto mode. Some cameras aren't easily controlled and this is something that should be considered when thinking about upgrading your equipment. Ease of use is definitely a factor in achieving better photos, a quick turn of the dial is much easier than diving into a menu system and scrolling to your desired adjustment. Secondly, read as much as you can even if you can't absorb it all. Somewhere down the road that info will make sense and suddenly a light will go off and you'll wonder why you didn't pick that up earlier. Speaking from personal experience here. Lastly, skip the lessons that slow down your learning. I wasted time learning how to use P mode, I wasted time trying to use the scene modes, I wasted time trying to use shutter mode, I wasted time trying to use aperture mode, I wasted time trying to learn exposure compensation. All of those settings still left the camera in control, not as much as in full Auto, but the camera was still in control. In hind sight, if I had of dived right into Manual mode instead of being afraid of it, I would be a far better photographer than I am today. Now don't get me wrong, Manual mode isn't for everyone, but if you want to control your camera so that you don't end up with silhouettes all the time when a bird perches on top of a tree or telephone pole, Manual is the mode to learn. The other modes work well most of the time, and can be tweaked with exposure compensation, but the camera is in control and it can/does get it wrong now and then. If my exposure is wrong, I'd rather it be because I set it wrong than the camera setting it wrong, but that's just me and another two cents worth of my thoughts.
  3. I'm afraid I can't help you there, Charlie. I pulled out my old Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28 and charged up the battery to see if I could refresh my memory on how the controls work in the hopes that your Panasonic had some what similar controls. When I powered it up and turned the main program dial to Manual, all it did was go back and forth between IntelligentAuto and Program mode, I couldn't access Aperture or Shutter mode or any of the dozen or so other options on the dial. Maybe it's a Panasonic glitch that just doesn't like Manual mode... Perhaps contacting Panasonic tech support can shine some light on your problem. We've been looking at it as if you are doing something wrong when it's entirely possible that there is something wrong with the camera. Either way, I don't know how to help you figure out the control issue in Manual. Wait, one last possibility, do you have a joystick type controller on the camera? If so, pushing the joystick up and down might control one setting and left to right might control the other setting. I'm just grasping at straws now and really hope that you can figure it out before your frustration gets to be too much.
  4. I can't be certain of what's going on, Charlie, but here's my suspicions. Your camera probably shows a +/-3 meter that can't tell you when the exposure is way beyond the low end of the scale's range. If the scale only goes to -3 and lets say that the exposure is actually -6, you're only going to see -3 on the scale. Turning the dial once or twice won't show any change on the scale, it would still read -3 because the actual exposure would now be at -4. I can't help but wonder if you took a couple of pics when you didn't want to push the shutter button, if you may have been able to see a slight change in how black the cat in the coal mine was and if there was any actual change . Your eyes might have noticed the brightness change from -6 to -4 even if the meter showed -3 for both. I also suspect that you might have to turn your control dial in the opposite direction than what you're used to when you've used exposure compensation in aperture or shutter priority. I'm not familiar with your particular camera, and it's been so long since I used exposure compensation that I'm not all that confident in which way the dial turns on my own camera, but I think it's possible you may have to turn the dial opposite direction of what you'd think, and possibly turn it a lot before you see any changes that'll show up on the metering scale, especially with low ISO and overcast skies. Can't really help with the shutter and aperture being displayed in different places, sorry.
  5. I suggest that you try using your view screen to review some of your photos while you are actively using the camera, Charlie. Your display screen should be able to show you whether your shots are underexposed and too dark, or overexposed and too bright, using blinkies(for lack of a better word) can help show overexposed/underexposed areas. Zooming in while viewing the photo should be able to give you an indicator if the subject is in or out focus and how noisy/grainy the image is, too. My theory is that while viewing photos on the camera, the more I can zoom in on my photo without signs of distortion, blur or graininess, the better the image is. If it looks funking at the first stage of zoom view, I know it won't be as good a photo as the one I can zoom halfway through before any funkiness shows up, and won't be anywhere near as good as the photo that zoom view allows me to zoom in all the way with no funkiness. I don't use the display view as a final deciding factor but I do us it to see if my exposure is right and to get a feel of the images quality of focus. Another 2 cents worth.
  6. The first thing I notice about your two killdeer shots, @Charlie Spencer, is that the lighting in the second photo is a lot better than the first photo. While fast shutter speeds are desirable to prevent blur from subject movement and/or camera shake, slow shutter speeds with lower ISO settings can achieve excellent results if your subject is still enough and you are steady enough. Good image stabilization in the camera helps too, but the quality of light can make or break a photo, which I believe is what has happened when comparing your two photos. The better lighting of the second killdeer photo brings out details that just aren't there in the first killdeer shot with the poorer quality lighting. As far as white balance goes, that's the one setting I hardly ever take off auto. I have locked it into a specific setting on occasion, but that was usually for my creative attempts at more artistic shots. I know it can be a great tool for achieving desired results, but auto white balance is the one camera setting that I trust the camera to get right. Just my 2 cents worth. Don't worry, no invoice will be sent. ?
  7. Here's an explanation of this morning's manual exposure setup and the shots I took afterwards. Using my Nikon P900 superzoom point and shoot, I set the mode dial to M for manual, this mode only manually adjusts the exposure or the brightness/darkness of the photo, it does not affect the automatic focus which I always have set to a single center point focus. I then dove into the menu and set my ISO to 400 before raising the camera to my eye. Using the display button on the camera, I had previously set the display to show the camera's settings and the exposure meter/scale so I can see the settings I am adjusting in the bottom of the viewfinder. Since my aperture fluctuates from f/2.8 to f/6.3 as I zoom out, I set my aperture to wide open at the long end of the zoom at f.6.3 using the dial on the back of the camera. I then pointed the camera at a branched area and turned the main dial on top of the camera to adjust the shutter speed and balance my exposure according to the metering scale in the viewfinder. This gave me a shutter speed of 1/250, aperture f/6.3, and ISO 400 when the scale was centered so I took a test shot. I thought that was a good starting point so I turned the camera to the cars in the parking area, I zoomed out for a wider angle and took another test shot. My camera shows a quick preview of the image I took in the viewfinder so I could tell the photo was overexposed without having to look at the image on the rear display. I knew that 1/250 for a shutter speed was way too slow for a bright sunny day so I used the top dial to crank the shutter speed up to 1/640 and took another test shot. I was getting closer but the image was still overexposed so I used the main top dial again to crank the shutter speed up to 1/1250, which is a preferred shutter speed if the ISO isn't too high , and took another couple of shots. I was satisfied with this exposure, and was now ready to take some pictures of birds. There was a goldfinch and a chickadee both perched in the same tree. I zoomed in a bit on the goldfinch first, which decided to turn it's head away from the camera just as I was pressing the shutter button, which is typical of birds and no setting on the camera can change that. ? Note that the goldfinch has both bright sky and dark shadows behind it and it's situations like this that result in fluctuating exposures in aperture or shutter mode where the camera can easily mess up the exposure because of changes in the background's brightness/darkness. The lighting on the bird is consistent and therefore the exposure shouldn't change, but the camera may not realize that in aperture or shutter mode if the background brightness/darkness changes. I then turned the camera on the chickadee next which has dark shadows that would most likely influence the camera to change it's exposure settings from that of the goldfinch photo if it were in aperture or shutter mode. There were no birds in the shadows at the time but this red squirrel shows how the exposure looks without changing any settings, or having the camera change the exposure if it were in aperture or shutter priority. It looks natural to the scene and shows how the squirrel looked in the shadows. A few minutes later one of the squirrels jumped up on the branch in the sunlight so I zoomed in a bit closer and I took one last photo. So, it took me less than two minutes to take some test shots and dial in an exposure that I liked, 1/1250 shutter speed, f/6.3 aperture, and ISO 400. After that, all I had to do was point and shoot. I didn't need to adjust my settings once, no exposure compensation was needed, but if I did need to adjust my exposure all I'd have to do is turn the main dial one way to brighten the image or turn it the other way to darken the image. I guess what I am trying to emphasize is the fact that if the lighting on the subject(s) doesn't change, the exposure settings don't need to change. In manual mode the settings stay the same until you change them, in aperture and shutter mode the settings are constantly changing at the camera's discretion and/or background's brightness/darkness. In aperture and shutter modes the camera will often select the right exposure, and exposure compensation can always be dialled in when needed, but I prefer to have consistent exposures and settings that won't fluctuate with bright sky or dark shadowed backgrounds. Manual exposure may seem scary or overwhelming if you don't know what you're doing, but once you try it you'll realize that it's not really all that hard. While I do encourage manual exposure for bird photography, I know that it's not for everyone and am not trying to force anyone into trying it. I am simply trying to point out why it's my choice and how easy it is for me to use. I also think that manual exposure is one of the best teaching tools for those interested in learning the basics of exposure. This ends todays lesson.
  8. That's a very important tip. If you have to raise the centre column to achieve eye level, then you're using a monopod on top of a tripod and lose stability.
  9. Did you forget to post the link birdbrain22?
  10. Adjusting the exposure manually isn't going to be much help with focusing issues, Charlie. Using f/8 for your aperture will help getting more of the area in focus, but it won't help much if the camera focuses on the branches out in front of the bird (and it will produce slower shutter speeds and/or higher ISO noise issues). Your hermit thrush photos didn't focus on the branches but instead found the opening through the branches so it could focus on the bird. Shots like that are hard regardless of what camera or exposure settings you're using. Zooming in as much as possible can help in finding the best opening to focus through, otherwise it's hit or miss as to whether the focus catches your intended subject or the surrounding branches.
  11. I totally agree with you, manual focus is one function that I never use on my superzoom because it's so slow and less accurate than auto focus, I seldom used manual focus on my DSLR either. As long as I preset my ISO and aperture at the beginning of my outing, adjusting the main dial, which controls my shutter speed, is super easy. Here's my procedure if you want to give it a try. I start by setting my aperture wide open, using the smallest f/#. I then set my ISO to 400 or 800 depending on how bright it is out. I then look through the viewfinder while pointing the camera at the grass or trunk of a tree and turn the main dial so the meter is centered in the scale and see where the shutter speed falls. If my shutter speed is 1/500 or faster I will take a test pic and see how the exposure looks. If my shutter speed is below 1/500 I will increase my ISO until I can achieve 1/500 or faster. If my shutter speed is way over 1/1000 I may decrease my ISO for less noisy results. It takes all but a minute or so to preset the camera before shooting birds, but once it is preset, it usually stays there for the duration of my shoot. Yes, I need to adjust the shutter speed if I move from direct sunlight into complete shade, and may have to adjust ISO as well, but it's not like I am walking in and out of sunshine every time I take a picture. If I move from sunshine to shade, I just preset the camera again for the shaded part of my outing. If you follow this method you will notice that you can usually take pictures of birds in the treetops or feeding on the ground without needing to adjust the exposure, the bright sky or dark shadows behind the birds will not affect the preset exposure. It's the bright background of the sky that causes the camera to under expose birds in treetops when using aperture or shutter priority and that's why you need to use exposure compensation in those situations. When looking through the camera and panning around the yard or living room in auto, aperture, or shutter priority modes, you will see the scale is stationary and the numbers fluctuate depending on the brightness of the background. In manual mode, you will see the scale changing as the background changes but the numbers remain constant. If the lighting in your yard/room hasn't changed, then there is no need to change the exposure. A simple test is to set an object in the middle of your living room and take a photo of that object from all four sides of the room in aperture mode and compare exposures. Chances are all four photos will be exposed differently, the photo taken with the windows in the background will be darker than the photo taken with the windows behind you. Then preset your camera in manual mode and take another four pictures from the four different sides of the room. All four shots in manual mode should have similar exposures since the lighting on your subject hasn't changed. I know I am not explaining this as well as I'd like, but I hope it'll help in understanding why I no longer use aperture mode. I'm not suggesting that manual mode is better than what works for you, I'm just trying to explain why manual mode works better for me.
  12. I respectfully disagree, I think it's actually faster to use manual to adjust exposure than it is to use exposure compensation in shutter or aperture priority. Manual mode requires pre-setting the ISO and aperture but once those two elements of the exposure triangle are set, all you have to adjust is the shutter speed to fine tune the exposure. Once in a while an adjustment to the ISO or aperture is required, but most of the time I am just turning one dial to adjust the shutter speed/exposure. Using exposure compensation requires pushing buttons before turning the dial to adjust the shutter speed...or the aperture...or the ISO, whichever one the camera feels like adjusting. Once you have manually adjusted the exposure, you don't have to worry about lighter or darker backgrounds affecting the camera's exposure. Typically, once the exposure is set manually, it needs very little adjusting but when it does need adjusting, it can be easily adjusted by turning one dial.
  13. Thanks for the offer Seattle, but the end of her week out west is tomorrow, which she'll be spending with her niece, and then she's coming home Monday.
  14. Whether there's an eagle #14 or not, that's an impressive number to see clustered together. Hopefully my girlfriend will be blessed with seeing numbers like this while she's vacationing in the Vancouver area this week. ?
  15. Looks like you miss counted, I don't see a #14.
  16. If you copy and paste(or drag and drop) your images right into the message box, they should upload(I think) and would greatly help with IDing your mystery bird.
  17. Since water falls seem to a popular theme, here's a shot I took of Hilton Falls back in 2011. Untitled by lonestranger102, on Flickr
  18. I don't think that there is much support for iBird on this forum. The members here are great at helping to identify birds, but there isn't a lot of technical know how shared here. While the iBird developer is the @Administrator of this forum, there isn't much support for iBird other than the suggestion to visit the iBird website and contact them and submit a request for support there.
  19. @Leeward Birder, Here's a photo of a hummingbird moth, (which are quite variable) with the white rump that you couldn't match to any of the hummingbirds.
  20. I could be way off here, but my first impression was a hummingbird moth, not an actual hummingbird.
  21. There is a downloadable checklist on the ABA website. http://listing.aba.org/aba-checklist/ Printing out multiple copies would allow you to create yard lists, county lists, state/province lists, life lists, and yearly lists.
  22. Welcome to Whatbird, alana. One method for uploading a video is to upload the video to youtube, or similar type site, and then paste the link directly into the message box. I hope that helps.
  23. Welcome to Whatbird, @Shirley Phares. I can't help with your ID but if you post it to the North America ID forum, you'll likely get a much quicker response. Personally, I have no idea why there is an iBird Only ID forum. All this forum does, in my opinion, is segregate the iBird ID requests from the other ID requests. The North American ID forum is more than capable of IDing birds for iBird users, and much quicker at doing so, too. There is nothing unique or helpful in using this iBird exclusive forum, it's nothing but a waste of space, in my opinion.
  24. Birds can disappear suddenly for a variety of reasons. A new cat roaming the neighbourhood can have an impact on birds and squirrels alike.
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