Monday, 23 August 2010

Photographing garden birds, part II.

Earlier this year I set up an area of the garden so I could photograph birds without showing them at a feeder. I’ve been regularly baiting it since then, but because I had to send my Sigma 100-300mm f4 back to Simga to be recalibrated, it was only recently I was able to try things out.

Using the longer lens lets me get the camera that little bit further away from the birds. The shutter noise from the D300 or D700 is sufficient to scare away most birds at closer distances, only the starlings ignore and carry on filling their beaks. With the 300mm on the D300 I can have the camera around 12 feet away and the birds are generally content whilst I get a large image without resorting to heavy cropping.

Although I had planned to use flash, the weather was sufficiently bright, even in the shade of the tree, that I could shoot at ISO 400, around f5.6-f8 and at 1/100-1/50 second. I left the camera metering in matrix mode because the background was also in the shade, focus in single servo and then triggered the camera using a Hahnel wireless release. The range on this last item is around 100 feet (I’ve not tried longer distances). With the camera mounted to the tripod using my new, longer, Giottos MH 621 base plate, the pictures at 1/50 sec showed little sign of camera shake and the only problem was that the autofocus sometimes selected the wrong end of the bird.

I’d been using a mixture of crumbled fat ball and, separately, bird seed mix to tempt the birds in and within 10 minutes of setting up and adding some seeds I had a male chaffinch feeding away. I took about 10 photographs and then he left, have eaten all of the seeds. I reviewed the images, increased the ISO to gain a little on the aperture and added more food.

Nothing! I’d had my chance and the bird’s were off doing something else.

1 comment:

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