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Thread started 04 Aug 2005 (Thursday) 08:30
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Birds in flight - best metering mode?

 
WSpruance
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Aug 04, 2005 08:30 |  #1

What metering mode do you use for birds in flight? My equipment is a Canon 100-400 lens on a Canon 1D Mark II body. The choices are Evaluative, Partial, Spot, Centerweighted Averaged and AF Point-Linked Spot.
My other settings are Stab Mode #2, Auto Focus on, Tv priority - 1000/Sec, AI Servo, ISO 400 to 1600 (Lighting conditions) and drive mode=High speed continuous. Your suggestions for both a sky background and other backgrounds are greatly appreciated.


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yellow_belly
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Aug 04, 2005 08:51 |  #2

Hi, I take a 'lot' of bird in flight shots and a lot of white birds at that :) I normally use 400iso, 100-400 lens at F6.3 in Av mode to stop the lens down a little and then this produces the highest shutter speed I can get for the setup and Evaluate metering. However the one other thing that I have to also use (especially with white birds) is the histogram because it is soooooooooooo easy to blow the whites. I check the histogram after every 'burst' of shots and adjust the exposure for the light at that particular time. I also find it very preferable to have any sun behind you, taking white birds on a cloudy day is easier on exposure but harder for the slower shutter speed.

I also delete a lot of inflight images as my keeper ratio for this kind of shot is small.

Terry




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CyberDyneSystems
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Aug 04, 2005 09:02 |  #3

I tend to use Partial metering and in the sky I still need at lease 2/3 stops .. sometimes as much as 2 full stops plus exposure compensation..

Evaluative will really give about the same results though the only difference being that you will most likely need more compensation than with partial...

The point is.. none of the metering modes will get it right without your additional input.. trial and error and looking at your historgram.. no one setting is even remotely close enough to let you set and forget under these conditions... (although PArtial with plus 1 stop might be a good pl;ace to start) ..essentially your looking at an almost 100% manual exposure setting ... no matter what metering mode you use.

As for spot metering.. trying to keep the tiny metering area on a bird in flight is ... difficult... to put it mildly.. and I find with the 1D one still needs copious EC even wehn you get the "Spot On".. so in this case Spot metering tends to make your task more difficult.


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SkipD
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Aug 04, 2005 09:15 |  #4

I haven't shot any birds in flight in recent years, but I think I would start by metering something else closer with the same light falling on it as on the bird. Then lock in the exposure in manual mode. If the same light is falling on me, I might meter my hand or do an incident reading with my handheld meter.

Simplicity is my guideline. In many cases, auto exposure and/or auto focus just complicate the situation. Manual mode makes thing much easier in oddball situations.

A handheld meter that can do both reflected and incident readings goes a long way towards making exposure control easy. I have a 1-degree spot lens for my meter which adds to the ability to resolve problems with exposure calculations. My meter is a Sekonic L-358.


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primoz
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Aug 04, 2005 14:15 |  #5

I don't shoot really much of birds if any at all but I guess it's pretty close to shooting sport. And for almost all my sport shooting I use manual settings not tv or av mode. Once in manual mettering choice becomes unimportant. I guess it would work pretty much same for you as it does for me with sport so here's my "procedure". Take reading from some kinda grey object (usually with spot meter because I usually just find some grey object next to track), add another 1/3 stop and that's pretty much it. It works fine for pretty much all outdoor sport and if lightning condition changes too much my experience for compesantions would cope with it you just repeat "procedure" from start. It takes less then 10sec and you get new settings.
With auto programs (av and tv) camera gets fooled to easy when lightning is a bit tricky (yes even 1d), so I don't really trust that kind of shooting.


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Scottes
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Aug 04, 2005 14:43 |  #6

ISO 200 or 400, f/5.6, evaluative. I chimp the histogram and make adjustments accordingly. When I shoot with evaluative metering I can then make EC adjustments based only on the size of the bird and/or the color.

Often I find that I'll shoot the same type of bird over and over during a shoot. So it's just the size of the bird in the viewfinder that will dictate how much EC to adjust. If it's small in the viewfinder then I trust the automatic exposure. If the bird fills the viewfinder then it's + or - 1 EC. It's pretty simple to wing it quickly using this method, IMHO.

Now if the type of bird changes then I'll now have to pay attention to the color of the bird, too. But that's easy, since I just have to make one quick decision about the "difference in EC" between this bird and the last one. (The last one was an egret and this is a duck so...) Then another adjustment based on size as above. (This duck is a lot smaller but a little closer than the egret...)


Generally I find that the camera's meter is rarely perfect. But it's also rarely so far off that I have to add or subtract a full stop. And it's quite easy to tell if it's Plus or Minus EC. So basically I only have to think about adjusting EC by either 1/3 or 2/3.

That's it! Is it one or the other? 1/3 or 2/3? If the bird is large in the viewfinder then it's 2/3, if not then it's 1/3. If the bird is so far away that it won't even affect the camera's meter reading then I generally don't shoot at it.

Which one? 1/3 or 2/3? How much simpler can you get?


Now, to be fair, I've been doing it this way for a while and I shoot in RAW mode. (It's pretty rare for me to keep an image that's more than 1/2 stop off though.) But I seem to do OK with this method.


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robertwgross
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Aug 04, 2005 15:04 as a reply to primoz's post |  #7

primoz wrote:
I don't shoot really much of birds if any at all but I guess it's pretty close to shooting sport.

Birds tend to be flying in the sky, and they appear as a dark object with a bright background. If the bird is small, then metering gets very tricky.

With sports, there are many variables. For field sports, you tend to have a player against a background of green grass or brown dirt or something like that, so the metering problem is not the same.

---Bob Gross---




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AJSJones
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Aug 04, 2005 16:44 as a reply to robertwgross's post |  #8

robertwgross wrote:
Birds tend to be flying in the sky, and they appear as a dark object with a bright background. If the bird is small, then metering gets very tricky.

---Bob Gross---

The trick is to determine whether the bird is lighter or darker than the background, and then by how much.

The background can be blue sky, white clouds, dark storm clouds etc, while the bird can be from mostly white to mostly dark. As Bob suggests, it's common to have bright skies and dark birds ; this requires + EC, sometimes lots. However, many birds, white or mixed require -EC if the skies are dark and the metering wants to open up the lens. Often there's an enormous peak in the histogram (for a luminance histogram) that is the sky, and it's hard to see the little blips that are from the target; but it's important to look for it and move it as far to the right as possible WITHOUT blowing the highlights. Check carefully for blinkies in the image of the target - it's OK to have a bright sky create a large peak topwards the right - or in the case of a dark bird - some of which goes off the right of the histogram (and leads to blinkies in a lot of the picture). I prefer to get some blown-out sky and a good image of the bird rather than a non-blown-out sky and a dark image which shows lots of noise when tweaked later. As noted, particularly problematic are mostly white birds, such as egrets, against a dark sky or even against the marsh etc, and I've had to resort to up to (sometimes over) -2 EC to keep the bird from blinking and the marsh looks like a night shot. Since they are often only a small part of the scene (unless you have a supertele and are stealthy (or at a zoo!) it's the difference between the background and bird that should determine the approach. If the bird "matches" the background, the metering's likely to be close...

(I thought Art Morris's website had some guides for how much EC under general conditions, but couldn't find them any more)

Good luck

Andy


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robertwgross
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Aug 04, 2005 17:01 as a reply to AJSJones's post |  #9

The bird that is the photographer's friend is the Sandhill Crane.

It is a gray bird that is about 18% gray in tone. Hence, no Exposure Compensation if you can get the meter pattern to match the bird size.

---Bob Gross---




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AJSJones
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Aug 04, 2005 17:53 as a reply to AJSJones's post |  #10

AJSJones
(I thought Art Morriss website had some guides for how much EC under general conditions, but couldnt find them any more)

Good luck

Andy[/QUOTE
wrote:

I had actually remembered the chart on page 60 of "The art of bird photography" by Art Morris, but found a product that responded to the interest in his site Check out

http://www.birdsasart.​com/bn73.htmexternal link

It appears to have a lot of examples and the metering suggested for them....


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arunchs
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Aug 05, 2005 00:02 |  #11

My settings:
Evaluative, Av at f/5.6 so I can get max shutter speed, continuos AI servo

Compensation:
+1 to +1.5EV in case of white sky, 0 to +0.5 in case of blue sky.

I shoot at ISO 200 to 400 and ensure that shutter speed is at least 1/500

But I am thinking of trying to meter first and then shoot at Manual mode.


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robertwgross
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Aug 05, 2005 00:16 as a reply to arunchs's post |  #12

When shooting birds in flight, I find it impossible to meter something one way, and then switch to any other mode and expect to do something in a hurry.

For birds, I find that I have to have my camera ready almost 100% of the time, and I have to be able to recognize the shot coming in one second, then compose and shoot in the next second. In other words, things happen very fast.

---Bob Gross---




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primoz
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Aug 05, 2005 01:53 as a reply to robertwgross's post |  #13

I agree Bob, but there's also other sports :) And most of sport I'm shooting is outside on snow, which means you get bright white background and dark skiers, so this comes quite close to dark birds in bright sky.
But generally I agree with you. It's not same but I would still say it can be compared. But on other hand yes it has nothing much to do with field sport or sports in hall like basketball, handball etc.


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Salleke
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Aug 05, 2005 02:16 |  #14

WSpruance wrote:
What metering mode do you use for birds in flight? My equipment is a Canon 100-400 lens on a Canon 1D Mark II body. The choices are Evaluative, Partial, Spot, Centerweighted Averaged and AF Point-Linked Spot.
My other settings are Stab Mode #2, Auto Focus on, Tv priority - 1000/Sec, AI Servo, ISO 400 to 1600 (Lighting conditions) and drive mode=High speed continuous. Your suggestions for both a sky background and other backgrounds are greatly appreciated.

WSpruance - A few days ago I had the chance to take a picture of a bird in flight. Like you know they never flying steady for one second.
I had only a few seconds time to aim my camera and to shoot one picture and he was gone again flying like a madmen, or madwoman.
I don't know if it was a she or a him ... :confused:

The picture was so, so but somehow I liked it. Then after posting it in the Nature & Animal section an other member -Dragonslayer.
I can thank him enouf - Offerd me to work on this image and he made a fantastic job at it.

My point is that even if your exposure is not perfect you can always take care of that in postprocessing. Ofcourse the better the exposure
the better the result but sometimes shooting birds in flight is knowing what to do and a lot of luck.
I was lucky in taking the picture of that bird and some else make it shine.

I like this forum and the helpfull friendly people. Thank you all. Ciao ... :) ;)




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WSpruance
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Aug 05, 2005 07:05 |  #15

WOW! You Canon people are the best. If anyone was looking to buy a new camera I think reading this post would convince them that Canon provides a great product and this forum is a virtual encyclopedia of experts giving the best advice available anywhere.
I thank all of you for stimulating my mind to become a better photographer every day and to provide as much help to other photographers as you have to me.

Many Thanks,
William Spruance
Fort Lauderdale FL


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