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My Wildlife Photography - Criticism & Advice Needed!!

Discuss and share your wildlife photography, filming and equipment
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DuQues
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Re: New to SLR photography

Unread post by DuQues » Tue Aug 31, 2010 12:39 pm

On a 20D (which I have myself) I'll never set it higher than 400, unless it's the sighting of a lifetime. The photos will just become too grainy.

TV or AV is a personal choice really. But for portraits and lone animals you never want background, but do want control over it. So you set it for AV, and you are the boss over the amount of background.

I wrote something about it not too long ago, maybe in the photography FAQ?
Not posting much here anymore, but the photo's you can follow here There is plenty there.

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Re: New to SLR photography

Unread post by BushNuts » Fri Sep 03, 2010 12:09 pm

Hi craigf86,

Some nice shots. Here are my comments;

1. Like DQ said, "where the legs". Always try to take as much of the animal as you can (unless you specifically want to take a head and shoulders portrait), and leave some space for the animal to move into the picture (Rule of thirds will also help in this regard). Remember you can always crop later on the PC but you can't un-crop something taken on the camera.

2. The Giraffe shot is lovely, good lighting. Best times to take photos are early morning and late afternoon, when the sun is lower on the horizon (Funnily this is also the best time to see game, strange how these things just work out). Also don't be scared to take a vertical shot. In this case it would have helped to fill the frame and add more to the story.

3. The Lion, I love the tongue. Everyone has seen a lion, but how many licking his lips. Getting the right shot at the right moment to add more to your photograph. Improvements, depends on what you want? If you want everything frozen in time, including the grass blades, then use your shutter priority and a fast lens (f/2.8, but let the camera worry about that and you worry about the shutter speed). If you want the lion crisp, and the grass blurred, use aperture priority (around f/4 to f/5.6, depending on how strong you are). You want to pan with the lion. This should hopefully blur the grass and give you a decent image of movement from the lion. You may want to consider an external flash to help with the lighting.

4. As with point 2, try to get this shot at a different time. The high mid day sun tends to wash out nature's wonderful colors. If you have no choice, try to increase the contrast later on the PC. You may also want to look at using exposure compensation to darken the image a bit. The foreground objects (blurred branches and leaves) detract a bit from the photo, especially where they cover the buff. Try zooming in a bit or even moving (if possible, wildlife is not the most accommodating model).

5. Not much to say. Good photo. If you want it might help to switch to manual focus so you can prevent the camera from getting confused and focusing on the branches instead of the bird.

That's it for now. My last tip, lots of practice. Especially if you want to start using aperture priority. Don't get caught up on trying to keep the aperture as open as possible (i.e. f/2.8). Try all the different apertures on a stationary target first and try this at different time of the day. You'll fail a few times but as long as you learn from the failures you'll be fine.
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craigf86
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Re: New to SLR photography

Unread post by craigf86 » Fri Sep 03, 2010 1:41 pm

hey bushnuts

thanks for the comments!

will try put everything that you guys have mentioned into practice!!

i dont think i can go as low as f/2.8......the lens i have are:
- f/3.5-5.6: 18-55mm
- f/3.5-6.3: 28-300mm(used this to take most of the pictures)

now wen i set my camera on aperture priority and il set it at 3.5......when i zoom in the aperture value changes by itself....is this normal??the aperture value changes with the focal length?sorry if these are very noobish questions....but on my last camera, slow-syncro flash was about as complicated as it got.

i find when i put the camera on aperture priority it slows the shutter speed and because im not always leaning on something my pictures come out blurred

if i mess around with my camera in my room here and take some pictures with aperture priority on the 28-300 lens, i get shutter speeds of 1/8 and 1/4......

but then again wen i mess around and use shutter speed priority, my pictures come out very dark....

i know in my room is not the best place as there isnt too much natural light, but with all the studying i do....im in there A LOT of the time....so just mess around with the camera a little!

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Re: New to SLR photography

Unread post by RUMURUTI » Fri Sep 03, 2010 1:47 pm

Hi craig86,

Zoom lenses function with two different apertures.
f/3.5 when you are at 18mm
and f/5.6 at 55mm
"You can leave Africa but Africa never leaves you"
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Re: New to SLR photography

Unread post by craigf86 » Fri Sep 03, 2010 2:31 pm

guys with regards to shooting in the early morning....say 5,6,7 am....there isnt too much light....especially around 5 and 6am.....

what settings would be best for shooting at these times??

if i had to hazard a guess now.....id go:

Aperture Priority - set it as wide as possible (low fstop number?)
ISO - set it higher to allow more light? (around 400?800?......back to 100 in the afrternoon)
and then the camera will adjust the shutter speed automatically....

im going to the kruger in december and dont want to be practicing my settings for the 3 days im there....i wana be taking WOW pictures :dance:

and i think this is the best place to confirm everything before i head out:)

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Re: New to SLR photography

Unread post by BushNuts » Fri Sep 03, 2010 11:29 pm

craigf86. I'm going to give you a piece of advice which is kinda like cheating. Get out in the early morning, or in lighting conditions similar to those you will be shooting in, set your camera to auto and take a couple of pics (okay, lots). Check whic ones came out the nicest, or acceptable at worst, and have a look at the EXIF data to see what settings the camera's brain used. Quickest way, although not always a hundred percent guaranteed.

When there is not much light and you are planning to take pictures of wild things without much blur, you have two options. One is to use an alternative light source such as an good quality external flash or maybe a spotlight. The other option, put the camera down and enjoy the moment.
"What makes a simple picture a true photograph, is the infusion of a story, emotions and memories."

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Re: New to SLR photography

Unread post by kesheshe » Sat Sep 04, 2010 6:48 am

i am no expert but the new cameras handle low light much better than before so do not be to worried about using higher ISO if required. Can always download software to help reduce the noise.

Try the following:

1. Play around with EV setting when taking birds or in very difficult light conditions
2. Regarding apertures when you want landscape shot or wider view maybe F14-f20
3. If you cannot get to F2.8 in bad light try adjusting shutter speed - this should only be done with a good support system - tripod , beanpad etc
3. High shutter speed for moving objects - maybe higher than 2000
4. Play with camera / lens combination as you may find best results at F7.1 / f8 rather than F3.5 etc
5. Also when lense is fully extended quality will in most cases unless prime drop off - as estimate 10-15% from max. In other words a zoom lenses that can go to 500 will produce better photos at 450 in alot of cases (gets what they call a bit soft)
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Re: Advice

Unread post by NightOwl » Mon Sep 06, 2010 9:49 am

timbo: I don't have time to go through all 200+ images, but had a look at the first couple of pages...

Make more use of the basic rules of composition: Rule of thirds and golden points.
Draw two horizontal and two vertical lines in your viefinder whith your imagination to divide it up in thirds, then place things along those lines and on the intersection points. Animal eyes are usually an easy one to place on an intersection point.
Then clipping ears, beak-tips and tails should be avoided. If it can't be avoided then get a little more 'creative' with the composition and rather clipp it completely to benefit the composition then just clipping the tips. Give the animals space to move into. Don't place the nose tip right on the edge of the image, leave some space infront of the animal and less space behind it.
Try to avoid shooting animals nearly completely covered by vegetation, when waiting a few seconds will give you a clear shot. Like the Giraffe shot. Giraffes don't usually disapear quickly after you spot them and stop the vehicle, like some other animals. Spend a little more time and wait for the 'nice' shots.
Good wildlife photography takes a lot of patience.
With the Hornbill series, I would have composed with less of the back of the head or top of the head (depending on the angle) and rather gotten the tip of the beak in. Except when you compose creatively and go for a shot focussing on the eye and then crop "most" of the beak instead of just the tip.

There are quite a few where your composition is making use of the basic rules, just try and keep it consistant throughout.

Zebra: Picture 018 : Rather dont clip mouth and ears. Turn the camera and do a portrait shot instead of landscape and you'll get the ears and mouth in.

Zebra - Uploaded on Sep 9, 2009 - is really not a good shot: even post processing cropping won't improve this shot, because the mouth is clipped as well as the ears.

I know it might sound only like negative comments, but thinking about composition will drastically improve your pics. I don't know if the ones that are nicely composed was thought about or just 'lucky' point and shoot.

My advice would be... Instead of racing through the bush trying to photograph as much as you can spend a day or to to just focus on improving your composition by thinking about it. When you encounter animals that look like they won't be racing off, switch the car off and don't rush yourself to shoot of as many images as you can. Spend some time to 'think' about the composition of each image. Think to yourself... don't clip noses, ears, beaks, unless I'm doing it very specifically for creative effect. If I can't get the shot horizontal, will a vertical maybe work??? Draw those third lines in your mind through your viewfinder and experiment with placing things on the intersections or on the lines, especially eyes on intersections and horizons on the lines.

Then after each image, look at it on the screen and see if the composition worked and if you missed something that you did not notice through the viewfinder, then go for the next pic.

The more you practice this, the better your composition will get when you do just pick the camera up and just shoot... Because your brain is then putting all those things into place in a split second.

But most off all... Enjoy being in the bush :dance:

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Re: Photos for Criticism

Unread post by Fransmargate » Fri Oct 01, 2010 3:59 pm

Although I have never commented (still learning) I have always enjoyed the pics and comments.
Please help : Did I crop this pic too much - I also have the Goliath Heron where it actually caught the fish but thought it would have more impact if I cropped it and I maybe overdid it.

Image

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Re: Photos for Criticism

Unread post by RUMURUTI » Fri Oct 01, 2010 4:23 pm

Hi Fransmargate,
Yes, I think you cropped it a little too much especially on the top. Show us the original and lets see what's around it.

Very nice picture!!! :thumbs_up:
"You can leave Africa but Africa never leaves you"
LIFE IS MADE OF GOOD AND BAD THINGS, I TAKE THE GOOD AND YOU CAN KEEP THE BAD!!!
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DuQues
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Re: Photos for Criticism

Unread post by DuQues » Fri Oct 01, 2010 4:29 pm

Indeed posting the original photo would help us.

At the moment the heron looks to get a bump on the head if he lifts it a bit, but we don't know how much space there was...
Not posting much here anymore, but the photo's you can follow here There is plenty there.

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Re: Photos for Criticism

Unread post by Fransmargate » Fri Oct 01, 2010 9:24 pm

Thank you for your replies. You have already opened my eyes to see what I was doing wrong. Here are two more pics


Image


Image

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DuQues
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Re: Photos for Criticism

Unread post by DuQues » Fri Oct 01, 2010 10:50 pm

Totally agree with Andy, and the reason for the crop. That branch is too intrusive.
Actually, if you just want the photo for yourself (!) you can actually use Photoshop to remove it... It's a great photo without it.
If you want me to I'll happily edit it, but I'll need the original, and it's weekend, so I don't have a computer to work on.
Not posting much here anymore, but the photo's you can follow here There is plenty there.

Feel free to use any of these additional letters to correct the spelling of words found in the above post: a-e-t-n-d-i-o-s-m-l-u-y-h-c

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Re: Photos for Criticism

Unread post by Fransmargate » Sat Oct 02, 2010 12:21 pm

Thank you Andy(I liked your edit-thank you) DuQues(I will place the original) and Lockie. Few more pics but have learned not to overcrop.


Image


Image


Image

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Re: Photos for Criticism

Unread post by Raptor142 » Sat Oct 02, 2010 1:18 pm

.....I dunno guys .... maybe I'm just different, but I like the framing offered by the strategically cropped branch in the foreground. My crop would be very similar to the shot IMG_7911 with just a bit of water visible in the corner.....

ImageIMG_7920

for IMG_7917 I would have gone a bit more symmetrical ...

ImageIMG_7917
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