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Author Topic: Wildlife photography, Part 2 Exposure/Composition (2of2)  (Read 4816 times)

Offline popeshawnpaul

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Wildlife photography, Part 2 Exposure/Composition (2of2)
« on: January 05, 2009, 08:00:19 PM »
Real World Examples

Example 1
You are in the west and looking for mule deer.  You are out at daylight and it is generally dark.  You have a Canon 40D DSLR camera and a 400mm f4 DO lens as well as a 1.4x in your camera bag.  Then you come accross this deer walking away from you at 100 yards.  The deer sees you and walks off.  What do you do?


400mm, F4, ISO 1600, 1/250th

When I started looking for deer that morning it was dark.  I set my camera on aperture priority mode and put my camera lens on my wide open setting of f4.  I needed as much shutter speed as I could get in the dark.  I had a 1.4x, but there was not enough light to lose that stop of light so I kept it int he camera bag.  I set my camera to the highest ISO of 1600 to maximize the shutter speed in the dark.  Then I jumped this deer.  I snapped the above shot real quick for a reference shot.  Digital film is free, why not?  Now, I followed this deer for 20 minutes until he calmed down and started to have interest in a few does.  Here was my chance.  The problem was it was still dark.  I had got a little more light so now I was at 1/500th of a second.  I took the following shot:


400mm, F4, ISO 1600, 1/500th

This was a decent shot, but can you see the problems?  It's an ok shot, but there isn't a lot of color and the noise in the shot is high because my camera is on ISO 1600.  I could try and lower the ISO to 400 and then my shutter speed would be 1/125th of a second.  That might get some sharp shots but that speed isn't enough to stop the action of the deer moving.  I decided to stay patient and see what develops.  After all, I knew the sun had to come up at some point...

So I followed this deer and he eventually bedded down.  This is at least 45 minutes later.  In the meantime, M_ray called me on the telephone and I was able to talk to him while the deer calmed down.  Now I have another problem.  The sun is coming up and the deer is between me and the sun.  That means the deer is in shdows and I can't get detail in the deer.  I stay clear of the buck and make a big loop around to get some side lighting.  Side lighting can be dramatic and is interesting.  This is about an hour or so since the last photo and I move in and take a few shots of the deer.  The problem is the deer is in the shadows.  I have more light now though.


400mm, F4, ISO 400, 1/500th

That was a better shot and worth the hour I had invested.  This buck will sit in the shade all day though if I let him.  Let's get him up and see what happens.  I move closer and closer.  He finally tires of me and gets up.  The buck is much more patient with me now than he was earlier in the morning.  I get to 50 yards and he pushes out in the sun.  I got the 1.4x but I'm so close I don't need any more focal length so I leave it in the bag.  Yikes, take that picture quick.  Good side lighting and colorful background.  Composition?  Hmm.  Let's think of our power points.  The central focus point of the photo is the head of the deer.  The deer is looking toward some does to the right.  Since I always want animals looking into the photo I put the deer on the left side of the frame with his head on the upper left power point.  Wait, are my exposure setting correct?  I see some trees in the background and I don't want them to distract from his horns.  I getter use the shallowest depth of field I can so I set my camera to f4.  I need the deer head to be in focus so I need to select the upper left focus point that is located on his head.  I lock the focus and take the shot.  Here is the final result:


400mm, F4, ISO 400, 1/750th

This is a photo I am satisfied with and I know I got the shot.  It took a few hours and some patience but I finally got a good shot.  Had I been satisfied with the shot in the morning I would not have been satisfied with that shot. 

Example 2

You are in the high country photographing rutting rams.  You have a Canon 40D, 70-200 f2.8 L IS, 400mm f4 DO, and a 1.4x teleconverter.  You hear a bang of two rams butting.  You move toward the sound.  When you get there a few rams are fighting for dominance.  They don't notice you much and keep on banging away at each other.  You move in and now you are 30 yards from them.  They are moving around and running each other around.  You have your 400mm f4 DO on.  However, the rams are coming so close you can't get both in the frame.  You can get one or the other, or the occasional point where two come together.  But you can't seem to get both in the frame.  Your goal is to get them in the action with both in the frame.  The 400 is locked to one focal length and it isn't giving you what you need.  You need to be light and quick for the action when it happens quick.  The 400mm needs a monopod and that is slowing you down.  I took out the 70-200 f2.8 L IS.  The reach wasn't enough though.  You grab for the 1.4x teleconverter and now you have a 100-280 f4 L IS lens.  Perfect.  Now what about exposure?  There is a lot of light because it's mid day but the sun is behind the clouds.  This is good though as there are no shadows.  Your lens is capable of f4, but you put on a 1.4x teleconverter on a zoom lens and that always makes the quality suspect.  If you stop down 1 stop it usually improves the quality of your photos when using a 1.4x.  So I stop from f4 down to f5.6.  Despite there being trees in the background, f5.6 is still enough to blur the distracting background.  The action is quick, and slower speeds aren't doing it.  You need at least 1/750th of a second but you can't get that unless your ISO is 800.  Oh well, better to have a sharp and slightly grainy photo than a soft photo or no photo.  You use the zoom to capture the action.  With no monopod you are light and quick in predicting when they are going to hit each other.  However, you now notice when the rams rear up to hit each other they are 30 yards apart and there is a lot of dead space between them.  Maybe if we change the angle we can get them both in the frame with less dead space in the photo.  Here is the shot I got:


280mm, F5.6, ISO 800, 1/750th

Example 3

You are at Cannon Beach with the family.  You are eating dinner and spot a nice sunset outside.  You've had a few beers, but what the heck, you are on vacation.  Dang, the sky is looking great.  It would be easy to pass up the opportunity and sit in the hot tub but light like this doesn't happen often.  You go out the back and head down to the beach with camera and tripod.  You have a Canon 40D, 10-22 f4.5 lens, polarizing filter, and a tripod.  First you have to set up.  You want to take a photo of a great sunset but sunsets look boring unless there is some interesting foreground.  Silouette photos look good and you have a big famous rock in front of you.  You set up so the sunset, water, and rocks are in the composition.  You think of centering the big rock, but then realize that isn't interesting.  So you put the main focal point and rock in the right side of the frame.  You want the lowest noise images possible so you set your camera for the lowest ISO setting of 100.  You have a tripod so no worries.  The glare of on the water is not good though, so you put on the polarizing filter.  You turn it until the glare disappears.  You lose another stop of light, but who cares because you have a tripod.  You set the tripod up at standing height and take a few test photos.  You don't get much detail in the sand in front of the camera.  We decide it's time to give up the body and lay in the sand and put the camera a foot or so off the ground.  Now the foreground is more visible in the photo.  We want everything in focus in this photo from the pebbles in front of the lens to the sky and rocks in the background.  We set to the highest aperture of f27.  This gives us a shutter speed of 1/4 second.  You could never hand hold that speed so good thing we have the tripod.  If I use my hand to click the shutter it will shake the camera and it won't be tack sharp.  Then we remember we have a remote timer on the camera.  The shot is composed and we snap the trigger.  Everything seems to be fine and we got the shot.  It wasted 15 important minutes of beer drinking time but maybe you will win photo of the month with this shot...  Back to the wife and kid.


16mm, F27, ISO 100, 1/4th

Hopefully some of these examples give you an idea of what goes through my head when I'm taking photos.  There can be a lot to think about prior to pulling that trigger.  If you slow down and think them through you can take an average snapshot and make it a thing of beauty.  If this is helpful and there is continued interest then maybe part 3 we can talk about post processing photos.  Then maybe a part 4 for advanced photo techniques...?

Offline robodad

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Re: Wildlife photography, Part 2 Exposure/Composition (2of2)
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2009, 08:16:08 PM »
Awesome !!!  :tup:

Thanks again for the write-ups !!
The essense of freedom is the proper limitation of government !!!

Offline GoPlayOutside

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Re: Wildlife photography, Part 2 Exposure/Composition (2of2)
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2009, 08:22:48 PM »
Sweet pix!

Keep 'em coming.
"Aim small, miss small."
Genesis 27:3, "Now then, get your weapons, your quiver and bow, and go out to the open country to hunt some wild game for me."

Offline Skinner

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Re: Wildlife photography, Part 2 Exposure/Composition (2of2)
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2009, 08:32:35 PM »
Thanks,  some of the #'s are actually making some sense to me now.  I need a camera and lens in front of me to acually see it though.  Soon!
IAFF Local 828

Offline Slider

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Re: Wildlife photography, Part 2 Exposure/Composition (2of2)
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2009, 09:10:48 PM »
Keep um coming!!!  :)

Offline cameraguy

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Re: Wildlife photography, Part 2 Exposure/Composition (2of2)
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2009, 09:29:09 PM »
Shawn, the  way explain things makes me really think about some of the ways I take my pictures.  You have a lot of talent and knowledge, I am learning a lot  reading your posts.  I can't wait for one of these days to hook up with you  for a photo outing.  If the day ever comes, you better bring some ear plugs because I'm going to be asking a lot of questions.  Can't wait to read more of your posts on taking better pics. 
A good friend will come and bail you out of jail...but, a true friend will be sitting next to you .
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Offline M_ray

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Re: Wildlife photography, Part 2 Exposure/Composition (2of2)
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2009, 10:05:31 PM »
Quote
Topic Summary
Posted on: Today at 09:29:09 PMPosted by: cameraguy 
Insert Quote
Shawn, the  way explain things makes me really think about some of the ways I take my pictures.  You have a lot of talent and knowledge, I am learning a lot  reading your posts.  I can't wait for one of these days to hook up with you  for a photo outing.  If the day ever comes, you better bring some ear plugs because I'm going to be asking a lot of questions.  Can't wait to read more of your posts on taking better pics.   
Posted on: Today at 09:10:48 PMPosted by: Slider 
Insert Quote
Keep um coming!!!   
Posted on: Today at 08:32:35 PMPosted by: Skinner 
Insert Quote
Thanks,  some of the #'s are actually making some sense to me now.  I need a camera and lens in front of me to acually see it though.  Soon!
Posted on: Today at 08:22:48 PMPosted by: GoPlayOutside 
Insert Quote
Sweet pix!

Keep 'em coming.
Posted on: Today at 08:16:08 PMPosted by: robodad 
Insert Quote
Awesome !!!
 

 Bunch of ki$$ a$$e$ ... he takes ok photo's!!!!  :chuckle:
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.    :chuckle: Kidding of coarse! (like I had to say that) Thanks and you keep posting them and I'll keep reading them!  :)
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Offline popeshawnpaul

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Re: Wildlife photography, Part 2 Exposure/Composition (2of2)
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2009, 10:42:00 PM »
I remember when I first started taking nature photos back in high school and college I would read books by John Shaw and Joe McDonald and they both had sections in their books on what would you do in a situation like this...  Then they would walk you through their thought process.  I'm no Shaw or McDonald but I hope the thought process behind why you select apertures and under what circumstances.  I use to love the example parts of the books and I felt like I learned a lot from them.  I hope they make sense as I know a bunch of the other stuff can get a bit above anyone's head unless you do it all the time.  It took me about 2 years of photography to get the aperture/shutter speed/ISO relationship down.  It's not an easy concept. 

This stuff may seem like it is for the guy getting serious with a DSLR, but this can all apply to a guy out there with his point and shoot.  You know, most of your point and shoot cameras you can change your ISO and settings just like a DSLR.  Learning what some of those settings do can really help you out.  At least I've answered a few questions from a couple of you and can point you this direction instead of trying to PM all of you. 

Offline robb92

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Re: Wildlife photography, Part 2 Exposure/Composition (2of2)
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2009, 01:17:25 AM »
More good info, thanks again!
"ITS NOT WHAT THE WISE MAN SAYS BUT WHAT THE WISE MAN DOES IN HIS LIFE THAT MATTERS"


Offline Skyvalhunter

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Re: Wildlife photography, Part 2 Exposure/Composition (2of2)
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2009, 05:48:54 AM »
Bet you regret giving T_Mike you cell number!! :chuckle:

Offline searchnfor

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Re: Wildlife photography, Part 2 Exposure/Composition (2of2)
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2009, 12:53:13 PM »
Thanks Shawn, like Skinner said this is starting to make sense to me now.  This is great information, appreciate your time to write these post, love to hear more.

Offline groundhog

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Re: Wildlife photography, Part 2 Exposure/Composition (2of2)
« Reply #11 on: January 07, 2009, 11:52:03 AM »
You da man!! Thanks for the insight!

Offline huntnphool

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Re: Wildlife photography, Part 2 Exposure/Composition (2of2)
« Reply #12 on: January 07, 2009, 11:56:19 AM »
Outstanding posts Shawn, thanks for getting back on here and helping out. I would assume we would be seeing a lot more pics being posted up in the near future, good work. :tup:
The things that come to those who wait, may be the things left by those who got there first!

Offline Skyvalhunter

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Re: Wildlife photography, Part 2 Exposure/Composition (2of2)
« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2009, 11:57:42 AM »
I second that

Offline Antlershed

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Re: Wildlife photography, Part 2 Exposure/Composition (2of2)
« Reply #14 on: January 07, 2009, 01:01:56 PM »
I think I need to read that with my camera in front of me so I can maybe get some of it to stick. Great post though Shawn. Thanks!

Offline Jeffrey

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Re: Wildlife photography, Part 2 Exposure/Composition (2of2)
« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2009, 09:36:54 PM »
This is good stuff here...keep up the great posts.
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Offline popeshawnpaul

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Re: Wildlife photography, Part 2 Exposure/Composition (2of2)
« Reply #16 on: January 13, 2009, 11:34:09 PM »
I'm thinking about a part 3 to complete the series, on what to do after the shot.  From uploading photos to the basic photo techniques used to get the photos looking good...  I know this exposure stuff isn't that popular, but this was really the most important info I gave.  Everyone wants to talk equipment and lens selection yet they have no clue what an f-stop is or how it relates to iso.  The truth is a good photographer can take a good photo with about any camera or lens if they know what to do with it.  Understanding iso, aperture, and f-stop is really important.  It's hard because there is no great analogy I can make to make the relationship between the 3 make sense.  One merely has to look at it and try and make sense of it through whatever method they choose.  Stay tuned...

Offline Timber

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Re: Wildlife photography, Part 2 Exposure/Composition (2of2)
« Reply #17 on: January 14, 2009, 06:05:38 AM »
I'm ready and waiting for a part 3 when you have time pope. I'm sure a lot of other guys are too.  :)

Offline Skyvalhunter

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Re: Wildlife photography, Part 2 Exposure/Composition (2of2)
« Reply #18 on: January 14, 2009, 06:07:12 AM »
+1

 

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