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Kerri

Close up photography question

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Just curious for those of you who post the amazing close up photos....are these typically the actual photo taken or are they a cropped photo of a longer distance shot? Thanks - Kerri

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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. 

Before

HZw93Qll.jpg

 

After

33954418966_078ec8b816_c.jpgIMG_5424 by lonestranger102, on Flickr

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Posted (edited)

Some people don't mind cropping, but I try to avoid it.  When I do crop my photos it is to make a better composition, but I try not to crop too much (making a full body shot into a head shot is a bit too much for me).  I can usually tell when a "close-up" photo isn't really a close-up; the quality of those photos are noticeably worse than the photos that were actually taken up close to the bird and/or with a good long lens.

Here is an example of how I'll crop my photos.  The Cedar Waxwing was only a few feet away from me and I used all the optical zoom my camera had.

waxwing.jpg

Edited by The Bird Nuts
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I also crop only if necessary for a better composition.   Original vs cropped.  I do very little post processing mainly because I am bad at it.   Both of these are as-is except for cropping

original.jpg

cropped.jpg

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I forgot to add....

When I cropped this, I wanted to eliminate the tangle of twigs to the right of the bird.  I felt it was too distracting.  I also cropped it in such a way as to give the bird something to look at.  I probably could have kept the clump of leaves at the lower left but that would have given the picture 2 focal points and that's not what I wanted.  

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For the record, I think all three original shots are terrific.

All post-processing drives me nuts.  To a small extent it's because once I get the birds ID'ed and the photos tagged and uploaded to eBird, I'm usually ready to do something else.

Mostly it's because I don't know what the end results are supposed to look like.  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. Ditto @The Bird Nuts second photo.  I can see there is a difference between them, but I guess I don't appreciate what was gained by cropping it such a small amount.  I understand @Spyonabird's motivations but those goals wouldn't have occurred to me.

And that's just cropping, an analog of what was originally a physical process.  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.

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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. 

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

For the record, I think all three original shots are terrific.

All post-processing drives me nuts.  To a small extent it's because once I get the birds ID'ed and the photos tagged and uploaded to eBird, I'm usually ready to do something else.

 I understand @Spyonabird's motivations but those goals wouldn't have occurred to me.

And that's just cropping, an analog of what was originally a physical process.  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.

For me, I really enjoy the artistic process.  I think that comes from 2 places.

1.  Many many years of art classes

2.  I am a scientist by trade so this gives me an outlet.

Everyone has their own ideas about what makes a good picture.  Although there are some basic artistry rules that are grounded in science,  you are the ultimate judge of your own work.  

Edited by Spyonabird
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I crop in when I can, a good bird pic will have the bird slightly off center looking in the direction of the longer crop. as if its goin to fly in that direction. A good flight shot is the same thing,more space on the side it is flying to,less space behind it. a couple of examples

 

this male towhee has been cropped to where the tail is almost touching the back of the pic,but leaves plenty of space in front for it to fly away...

46881451344_16d29cd70c_z.jpg

 

This Yellow Crowned Night Heron has been cropped to make it appear as though it is flying off the page.the legs are close to the back end of the pic and the head is slightly past the middle

 

33788966048_7b56f47c88_z.jpg

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Being a fine artist as well as a photographer, I've figured out where I think subjects look best in a composition.  Most of the time my favorite pieces are composed using the "Rule of Thirds".  I suggest you look it up if you are interested in learning how to compose photos (and other artwork).

Edited by The Bird Nuts
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Posted (edited)
54 minutes ago, Spyonabird said:

2.  I am a scientist by trade so this gives me an outlet.

Interesting.  I'm a network analyst, and occasionally I'll try to force solutions and answers even when they're not there.   We appear to have gone different directions from logical backgrounds.  Maybe it's the art classes?   Birding is definitely my outlet; it forces me to be patient and accept that there may not be an answer.  But I have no exposure to creating art other than finger-painting.  Maybe photo processing isn't the best place to start.

Edited by Charlie Spencer

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13 minutes ago, The Bird Nuts said:

Being a fine artist as well as a photographer, I've figured out where I think subjects look best in a composition.  Most of the time my favorite pieces are composed using the "Rule of Thirds".  I suggest you look it up if you are interested in learning how to compose photos (and other artwork).

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

Another artist.  I suspect processing isn't as easy as the application and camera ads would have one believe, especially with no artistic background.

Thanks.

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, Charlie Spencer said:

Interesting.  I'm a network analyst, and occasionally I'll try to force solutions and answers even when they're not there.   We appear to have gone different directions from logical backgrounds.  Maybe it's the art classes?   Birding is definitely my outlet; it forces me to be patient and accept that there may not be an answer.  But I have no exposure to creating art other than finger-painting.  Maybe photo processing isn't the best place to start.

Bench scientist/biochemist here.  I like the challenge  of designing experiments.  I think of them as a a big puzzle and I have to put together all the pieces.  I was giving a tour to some high school teachers many years ago and they asked me what they should have their students focus on to increase their success in the sciences.  Without hesitation, I told them that creativity will give them the best chance of success.  No new discoveries are made if you only follow dogma.

Edited by Spyonabird
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I think of network and IT support as getting paid to play with toys I couldn't afford on my own.  I have a degree of creative freedom on how i reach a solution but in most cases, the final result is predefined.  That's why processing frustrates me - no defined goal.

College IT majors would often post on forums asking what IT field paid the most.  I'd advise going into the one they enjoyed the most; otherwise, they'd just spend the bigger salary on Maalox and therapy sessions.

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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. 

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1 hour ago, lonestranger said:

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.

Yep, that is the way I do it most of the time.  I think I read somewhere that the sharpest point is the center focus point, so it's best to use that anyway.

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11 hours ago, lonestranger said:

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. 

I center focus, lock it, then move the camera to recompose the shot with the bird off center.  I may crop to get the final composition but I really try to get a good shot in the camera.

There are some really useful techniques that I have learned from others and from taking a class.  I have been trying to get better.  My husband asks me why learn more when I already take nice pictures.  He doesn't understand the drive and that's ok.  He has his own hobbies that he obsesses about... his motorcycle...a perfect lawn...etc

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13 hours ago, lonestranger said:

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.

I center almost everything, but it never occurred to me to use cropping for positioning the subject.  I thought it was just a way to reduce the size of the image or to remove what you didn't want.  Another case of being aware of the mechanics of what a tool does but not understanding how to use it effectively or artistically.

2 hours ago, Spyonabird said:

I center focus, lock it, then move the camera to recompose the shot with the bird off center.  I may crop to get the final composition but I really try to get a good shot in the camera.

That's what I try to do on those occasions when I consider composition.  It's also where I run into problems when the bird won't cooperate.  I try to get as good a shot as possible with the camera, I guess because I don't understand post-processing.

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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.

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1 hour ago, lonestranger said:

I agree that cropping is undesirable, but in practicality, it's an essential tool for me.

If I said anything that indicted I thought cropping was undesirable, that wasn't what I meant.  I don't know enough about using it to have an opinion, good or bad.

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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. 

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Posted (edited)

I do quite a bit of cropping, I didn't have to crop much on this one as the bird was pretty close

DSC_1497_zpstikfxb6e.jpg

 

This one was farther and I had to crop quite a bit

DSC_078920-20Copy_zpsvw3sm584.jpg

Edited by bearcat6

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16 hours ago, bearcat6 said:

I do quite a bit of cropping, I didn't have to crop much on this one as the bird was pretty close 

This one was farther and I had to crop quite a bit

Since we don’t see the original shots, what were your goals when you cropped these?

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Posted (edited)

I don't do much cropping I have Nikon coolpix p900 (point and shoot). Which has a incredible zoom. This is about as heavily cropped as I ever do.

Edit the cropped photo is also slightly brightened.

DSCN5819.JPG

DSCN5819.JPG

Edited by Kevin
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