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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Bird Talk 
Thread started 07 Jan 2018 (Sunday) 10:37
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Soft ­ Focus
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Jan 07, 2018 10:37 |  #1

My house sits on the side of a hill with the ground rising steeply in the back yard. I have a little cleared area where I feed the birds and watch them from the couch. Squirrels also gather there to eat the sunflower seeds in the wild bird feed that I buy at Costco.
Yesterday I was watching a squirrel and it suddenly bolted for the tree. A second later a sparrow hawk swoops down and lands where the squirrel was. I quickly grab the camera, check the settings, and sneak out the door to try and get a shot. Of course, the dog picks up on my excitement and bolts past me to investigate. I'm calling the dog back in my lowest stern voice, using some very colorful language, and she finally goes back inside. Miraculously, the sparrow hawk is still there! It's flitting around and I'm trying to move into position to get a clear shot. It lands on a rock in full view! I take two shots before it flies up in a tree. I get one more off of it in the tree and it's gone.
This is what I got :-(
I didn't notice the weed in front of it and I totally screwed up the focus (manual focus, no excuse). I got perfect focus of him in the tree, but the branch obscured eighty percent of him (great shot of tail feathers though). I really wanted a nice shot of this bird because they're hard to get close to under normal circumstances, and they are nice looking birds.
I know this happens to all of us, but DANG! Oh well...


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Tom ­ Reichner
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Jan 07, 2018 12:06 |  #2

Been there, done that ...... many more times than I care to remember.

I think that scenarios such as this just go to show that almost all good bird shots come as a result of planning ahead, not from just hoping to "capture a moment" that pops up unexpectedly.

I would say something like, "better luck next time", but I know that luck has nothing to do with it. If one relies on luck and happenstance, then they are never going to get nice bird photos.

.

Soft Focus wrote in post #18535552 (external link)
I got perfect focus of him in the tree, but the branch obscured eighty percent of him (great shot of tail feathers though). I really wanted a nice shot of this bird because they're hard to get close to under normal circumstances, and they are nice looking birds.

I'm glad to hear you say that you really wanted a nice photo of this hawk, because so many times, people just don't want it badly enough to do what it takes.

If you really do want nice photos of this sparrowhawk, and other birds, then there are steps you can take to prepare for good photos:

Pull that weed that is in front of the rock.

Clean up the dead grasses at the base of the rock.

Learn what branches the birds usually prefer to perch in and prune the other branches out of the way so that you have clear shooting lanes.

Find attractive perches and place them in key locations near your feeder setup.

Figure out ahead of time what positions to shoot from, to ensure that you place the most attractive, distraction-free background behind the bird.

Take practice shots of the rock and the branches, even when there aren't any birds there ...... then study those practice shots and look for anything in the frame that is unappealing, and then figure out how to mitigate any such problems.

Relentless effort will go a long way towards ensuring that you don't flub up the next time the hawk comes around.

.

Soft Focus wrote in post #18535552 (external link)
I didn't notice the weed in front of it and I totally screwed up the focus (manual focus, no excuse).

I think that in this instance, autofocus would have worked perfectly. Enough of the hawk's head is in the clear, and your camera's AF would have grabbed onto the nice contrast between the head and the background and locked into perfect focus.

.

Soft Focus wrote in post #18535552 (external link)
Of course, the dog picks up on my excitement and bolts past me to investigate. I'm calling the dog back in my lowest stern voice, using some very colorful language, and she finally goes back inside.

Having a plan in place ahead of time, as far as how to manage your dog when a bird appears, would ensure that you avoid this problem in the future.



.


"Your" and "you're" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"They're", "their", and "there" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"Fare" and "fair" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one. The proper expression is "moot point", NOT "mute point".

  
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Soft ­ Focus
THREAD ­ STARTER
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Location: Mill Valley, Ca
     
Jan 07, 2018 12:41 |  #3

Thanks Tom, I hadn't really thought about getting my area cleaned up, but that's a good idea. Building a few perches also got added to the list.
I just recently got back into photography, and my skills and mind haven't quite caught up yet. You're right though, good planning makes for much better pictures.

Ted




  
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