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Old 17th of October 2008 (Fri)   #16
Pauky
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Default Re: Wildlife Photography and staying hidden

BradM--were these pictures taken with the 100-400 or the 400mm?
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Old 17th of October 2008 (Fri)   #17
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Default Re: Wildlife Photography and staying hidden

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pauky View Post
BradM--were these pictures taken with the 100-400 or the 400mm?
The EXIF on all of his images shows <400. I'd say they're all with the 100-400.
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Old 18th of October 2008 (Sat)   #18
BradM
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Default Re: Wildlife Photography and staying hidden

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pauky View Post
BradM--were these pictures taken with the 100-400 or the 400mm?

Just as our wise moderator has surmised, the shots are with the 100-400mm, the 1st @ 390mm, the 2nd @ 220mm and the last @ 210mm.
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Old 18th of October 2008 (Sat)   #19
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Default Re: Wildlife Photography and staying hidden

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Originally Posted by BradM View Post
Just as our wise moderator has surmised, the shots are with the 100-400mm, the 1st @ 390mm, the 2nd @ 220mm and the last @ 210mm.

Thanks BradM.

I have a 40D and a 100-400, but I can't get the shots nearly as sharp as yours. After studying your EXIF, it might be the f/9-f/11 range that you're using. Are you using autofocus or manual? I'm wondering if I have a soft lense. Do you have any suggestions?

I have been perusing your site. You are taking some absolutely amazing shots! I'm very impressed. Some of those shots you captures: I just can't imagine how you got them.

Very nice work.
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Old 18th of October 2008 (Sat)   #20
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Default Re: Wildlife Photography and staying hidden

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pauky View Post
Thanks BradM.

I have a 40D and a 100-400, but I can't get the shots nearly as sharp as yours. After studying your EXIF, it might be the f/9-f/11 range that you're using. Are you using autofocus or manual? I'm wondering if I have a soft lense. Do you have any suggestions?

I have been perusing your site. You are taking some absolutely amazing shots! I'm very impressed. Some of those shots you captures: I just can't imagine how you got them.

Very nice work.
Thanks for the nice words, it is certainly appreciated.

On the aperture issue, I have found my lens is at the best between f/7.1 to f/9. And so I am usually shooting at f/8 but in these cases I stopped down further because as you probably know the closer one gets to the subject the more narrow the dof gets. And I didn't want to lose the areas I wanted sharp, the eyes & head in most cases. In all cases I am using AF, my eyesight is bad enough I am lucky to identify a bird from a log.

On whether or not you have a soft copy or not: It has been my personal experience with at least 7 of these lenses that I have yet to find a soft one. In different seminars I have held the owners have felt theirs wouldn't perform as well as my own. So I suggest we swap, shoot the same subject and the "issue" of softness remains.

So it then is evident it isn't a gear issue but rather an issue of settings or technique. And most cases it come down to the technique of using longer lenses.

Some quick tips for the best results while handholding (I never use a triopd with the 100-400mm) I could offer would be:

Don't grip the lens barrel, cup it. If your fingers on the lens aren't adjusting then they shouldn't be applying any pressure to the barrel.

Always have 3 points of firm (but not tension) contact with camera, body to the eye/forehead, right hand pulling it in, left hand cupping with elbow braced against body.

If standing the left foot should be slightly in front of the right with weight mainly on the forward foot. And if you can brace yourself on something, lean on a tree, fence post, car or something. The first step in a sharp shot is stability, get stable and the rest is easy even at shutter speeds well below the focal length times crop factor rule of thumb.

Squeeze off a shot, too many people slap the shutter button. An easy techinque to try to see if you are slapping is to shoot 3 or 4 shots in succesion.

Be sure to let the IS spin up before shooting, .5 to 1 second. The 1st maybe soft, the 2nd and/or 3rd sharp and the last soft. The reason for the first soft is the slap, the last is the anticaption of checking the shot. This tip alone has converted many people away from the soft copy thought they had previously on their glass.

The basic techniques I use in shooting photos is the same I used in handgun qualifying and meets as a former police officer, grip, bracing, breathing and squeezing.

Most of the tips that can improve the sharpness of the shot can come down to just slowing down and thinking through the shot. While the time with the subjects are often fleeting the oxymoronic cliche of "making haste slowly" really is best advice one can give in my experience.

I hope some of this helps, more questions or concerns please ask. Myself or some of the real experts we have in our community are here and willing to help you out.
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Last edited by BradM : 18th of October 2008 (Sat) at 08:59.
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Old 20th of October 2008 (Mon)   #21
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Default Re: Wildlife Photography and staying hidden

Like BradM I don't use a blind except for special circumstances. Wildlife are very aware of their environment. Imagine someone setting up a blind in your living room while you are sleeping. Do you think you would notice it when you got up the next morning? Blinds can be effective if they are left in place permanently but I don't th they work very well on a temporary basis.
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Old 24th of October 2008 (Fri)   #22
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Default Re: Wildlife Photography and staying hidden

My car or my van. Best "hide" you probably already own. Especially in a wildlife area that has a road running through it.
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Old 24th of October 2008 (Fri)   #23
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Default Re: Wildlife Photography and staying hidden

Great tips from everyone. I hunted for many years including bowhunting, so I am quite used to being close to wildlife. It saddens me to think of all the great shots I could have gotten if I was in to photography back then! That is the way it is though...Here are a few thoughts of mine to consider.

Using the vehicle as a cover- while this does probably work in areas where deer are used to seeing vehicles, it does not always work in a real world environment. I have watched deer's reactions to vehicles during hunting season and they are not good. Some deer will go WAY around the vehicle because they associate it with a predator (especially bucks).

When I am trying to stalk an animal, I use natural cover to block my outline. Move very slowly and walk in a way that there is always a tree or bush between you and what you are going towards. It takes a lot of patience to get close in the wild. This does not apply at places like nature centers and parks obviously.

Don't be afraid to just sit and wait-A lot of times animals scatter like crazy when you are running through the woods. I have found that if you just sit down and wait, they will come back. Patience can pay off in more ways then one. I like deer, but while waiting for deer to show up I often see a lot of squirrels and birds hanging out at close ranges. If you are careful to be still, you will probably be surrounded by wildlife.

Pop up blinds are excellent- If you know anything about turkeys, you will know that they often scatter at the slightest movement(in the wild). I have found that a pop-up blind works great to counteract this phenomena. With a popup blind in place, I have been surrounded by about 10 hen turkeys within 8-10 feet for a period of about an hour. The only reason they go scared off is because I moved to a different spot. I have also called in a 20+ pound tom within 10 feet. Missed the shot, however because the safety was on but that is another story in itself. Another benefit of the popup blind is that you can get away with moving around more and not wearing camo.
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Old 24th of October 2008 (Fri)   #24
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Default Re: Wildlife Photography and staying hidden

I have found with birds that I can sit out without a blind if I sit on the ground with my back up to a tree. A hat usually helps and if I'm just watching birds, I wear sunglasses so they can't see my eyes. I've had mixed luck with blinds, sometimes they work really well and other times not at all.
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Old 24th of October 2008 (Fri)   #25
Guerry Dalrymple
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Default Re: Wildlife Photography and staying hidden

Jeremy

Being a bowhunter for years it was a pretty easy tranfer to getting close for photography. Also being in a wheelchair make me need to pick site to photograph from and not move around a lot. Another old bowhunting technique, scouting. In any case I use blinds and camo for the most part. Sometimes only one or the other but mostly both. I have a pop up blind my wife got me last birthday if you want to try it out.

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Old 24th of October 2008 (Fri)   #26
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Default Re: Wildlife Photography and staying hidden

I use the same techniques for photography that I do for hunting (deer waterfowl and turkey). Most of which were mentioned above.

I want to add one thing about pop up blinds they work but you can not just set one up jump in an expect to have animals get close. You need break up the out line. Take away the hard edges of the blind. A blind is great in that you will probably be more comfortable and the more comfortable you are the longer you will sit trying to get that once in a life time shot. Most hunting blinds have places on the outside to stick branches and brush you need to make your blind blend in.
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Old 24th of October 2008 (Fri)   #27
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Default Re: Wildlife Photography and staying hidden

Awesome info everyone! Thanks so much!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guerry Dalrymple View Post
Jeremy

Being a bowhunter for years it was a pretty easy tranfer to getting close for photography. Also being in a wheelchair make me need to pick site to photograph from and not move around a lot. Another old bowhunting technique, scouting. In any case I use blinds and camo for the most part. Sometimes only one or the other but mostly both. I have a pop up blind my wife got me last birthday if you want to try it out.

Guerry
Thanks Guerry! I'll keep you in mind if I ever get a chance to get out. lol
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Old 28th of October 2008 (Tue)   #28
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Default Re: Wildlife Photography and staying hidden

Ghillie suits work well too - You can easily make your own portable blind from camo fabric bought at any store and a couple of pieces of 1/2" plastic water pipe and some duct tape - tape the cloth to the pipe and cut the pipe with an angle on one end to poke it into the ground - you can use 2 or 3 pieces with one on each end and a third piece of pipe in the middle - very light weight and very portable - For those who don't know many times deer will smell you before they see you - Also deer and turkey many times travel together - the deer will be moving to feed and water while the turkey are moving to roost in the evening and just the opposite in the morning - I even seen them tease and play each other - In the fall you can bust a flock of turkeys and set and make a lost turkey call and many times they will come right back at you on a dead run - Just thought these things might be worth a mention - DB
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Old 30th of October 2008 (Thu)   #29
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Default Re: Wildlife Photography and staying hidden

BradM, you seem to been a real pro in wildlife shooting, the wolf photo is really amazing. Hope to practise some wildlife shooting as well soon.
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Old 1st of November 2008 (Sat)   #30
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Default Re: Wildlife Photography and staying hidden

I always thought it wouldn't really matter how well you hid if you were close to your subject wouldn't they be able to pick up on your scent or work out theres a threat nearby?

I guess if you could get a 800mm and a II x extender you should be allright
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