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  1. Nespresco

    Nespresco

    Name:
    Alan
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    So I decided to buy myself a DSLR just over a year ago in anticipation of another trip to Kenya last summer. This trip was the first time I properly used the camera, or any DSLR for that matter, for more than a few shots in a day and whilst it was a huge learning curve I found it thoroughly enjoyable. I took maybe 1000 photos over 3 days, I then tried my hand at post processing (another huge learning curve) and ended up with maybe 20-30 which I am pleased with. My initial plan was to rent a 100-400mm lens to use on a 500D body, but I decided to buy used and then sell on my return which should work out cheaper although I decided to keep it in the end :D.
    So here are a selection on pictures that I ended up with, I would really appreciate honest constructive criticism, pared with suggestions on how I might have shot the scene/subject and or edited it better to achieve a more professional looking image.

    Some are uploaded in higher quality Here

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG] - Really not sure if the B & W looks any better for this one (non B&W under link at the top)
    [​IMG]
    Uploaded with ImageShack.us

    The things I had difficulties with:

    The light, I suspect this is due mostly to a lack of ability on my part in combination with an 'entry level body' and a f5.6 lens, as soon as it started getting dark and I was having to go to ISO 800 and above to maintain sharp shots they had too much noise. I try reducing it in Photoshop but I lose too much sharpness before the noise is at an acceptable level.

    Post processing, I am a fan of B & W and at times got carried away with it, I suppose its down to a lack of experience but I found it very hard to judge how good a picture is (and my opinions varied from viewing on a day to day basis) on the picture of the lion cubs the tone of the fur and the yellowy grass didn't do it for me so I tried reducing the saturation and increasing the vibrancy of the colors to try and create better contrast, I'm not sure if the end result 'works'. Is there a general criteria for what makes a good candidate for a B & W exposure or other Post processing directions or is it simply a matter of trial and error.

    The final thing really is focus, a disappointing amount of images came back slightly out of focus, I was generally using single point (center) AF mode. Stationary animals generally came back O.K, moving subjects weren't so good I tried using AI servo (and switched I.S to panning mode) to track a cheater chasing after a Thomson's Gazelle but none were sharp enough to be used.

    Sorry for a long-ish post, I realize a lot of things will (hopefully) correct themselves over time, but I am keen to learn and would appreciate anyone taking the time to read this and offer some advice, and hopefully I will get some better shots this summer coming.

    Alan
  2. Bullysrus

    Bullysrus

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    Tony
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    Some nice shots

    Love no 2
  3. gramps

    gramps

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    Love the Kojak zebra :D
  4. Nespresco

    Nespresco

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    Alan
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    Thank you, There were 4 lion cubs all playing around could have happily spent the whole day watching them.

    Yes it's one of my favorite shots, It reminded me, being from the south west, of a farmer. Kojak was a bit before my time ;)
  5. deanlewis

    deanlewis

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    I love these Alan, yes they can be improved but these are great captures. The 3rd shot could be easily improved with a small crop to the left to get rid of the branch but the detail you have captured is very good. The pick for me is the Zebra, I love it, the black and white works really well.

    Dean
  6. mrtoad

    mrtoad

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    Geof
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    hi Alan and welcome
    3 and 5 are the better..that is the rest arent really in the same viewing class
    3 is a good sharp eye shot of the cheetah as she sits in the shade..i think this could be masai mara area rather than samburu
    5 is a easy shot of the zebra but the processing is good...and the little stick in the mouth adds to the interest
    the rest are fraught with troubles...lack of sharpness and could have been taken in a better position...so reducing the foreground blur branches
    the two cubs are too enmeshed...sort of siamese to see who is who
    i did the kenya safari as well with, as you have taken, loads of shots which all boiled down to a few good with no real class shot emerging..
    as i feel myself i should go back and concentrate more
    cheers
    geof
  7. Nespresco

    Nespresco

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    Alan
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    Thank you Dean, much appreciated, I hadn't thought of just cropping the branch out, I guess I was too fixed on having the heads positioned according to the 'thirds rule' to think about it.
    It is indeed the Maasai Mara, apologies if I said Samburu (never actually been there) I was particularly pleased with the sharpness of picture 3, and the lighting meant post processing could reveal some of the detail in the eyes. 5 was a shot I didn't actually notice until I uploaded it but it was sharp and had something different, which over 3 days I didn't really come across much that stood out as unique, I guess this is the experience side again you learn to spot stuff that makes a good shot.

    I'm afraid some of the sharpness issues might have been me trying to reduce the noise or possibly due to relativity low resolution shots. However more likely due to the issues I noted earlier. For some reason my focusing was inconsistent and I cant really think of a reason for it. As for positioning on the cheetah shot we were jostling for position with about 5 or 6 other vehicles I was trying to get a clear shot but it wasn't easy.
  8. mrtoad

    mrtoad

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    Geof
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    sounds like the same situation i had...and the same bush

    [​IMG]
    cheetah by mrcrow_uk, on Flickr
  9. Nespresco

    Nespresco

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    I think it's a common situation in the mara at peak times, She was with 3 cubs in an area with a decent sized pride of lions and was tying to stay well hidden. If i was with a group of photographers we would have been able to stay longer for a better shot, however I was with my non-photographer family and they wanted to move on.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2012
  10. mrtoad

    mrtoad

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    likewise...we had to think of the land rovers other occupants desires to see more and travel around a bit
    one of our travellers paid a bit extra to his driver and got a dawn trip to the mara river for the carve up the alligators have with the wildebeeste and zebra..
    we should have done that as well...they were away for the whole day and came back with some great shots
    cheers
    geof
  11. dhackett

    dhackett

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    Hi Alan,

    Thanks for these - some lovely shots. I'm out to Africa this summer and have recently bought the 100-400 to go with my 500D. In my first few plays I'm also struggling to get sharp shots. What did you do different with pic 3 that makes it so crisp? Nice to see that the pairing is capable of sharp shots given the right conditions!

    Dean
  12. 501cards

    501cards Suspended / Banned

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    Richard
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    If you have a UV filter on the 100-400 take it off, not sure why but there seems to be issues using UV filters on a lot of 100-400s and it causing problems. Suggest you try the same subject with and without a filter and see if your particular 100-400 is affected..

    Here are some examples taken on the same day at the same location with the same camera & 100-400 First image with the UV Filter on Second without it

    1/1000 sec with UV Filter attached

    [​IMG]

    Crop From Above

    [​IMG]

    1/1000 Sec without UV Filter attached

    [​IMG]

    Crop From Above

    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2012
  13. Nespresco

    Nespresco

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    Alan
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    Thanks very much for the positive feedback!
    The lens can be wonderfully sharp but I kind of got inconsistent results with mine which may be I wasn't using a fast enough shutter speed because of the light. If you are worried your lens might not be sharp trying using a tripod and live view + manual focus (zoomed in) to focus and see how it turns out. Some lenses are sharper than others. I also found the 100-400 on a 500D to be very front heavy, a battery grip helps a lot with balance, I picked up a genuine canon one in as new condition (couldn't tell it from new) not only does it help the balance it also means you wont have to change battery when you are in the middle of shooting something. Where about in Africa are you heading? Also as mentioned below I read about UV filter issues and so never put one on, digital cameras don't really need a UV filter either tbh.
  14. mrtoad

    mrtoad

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    i think safari photography is the most demanding and rewarding
    demanding that you cant get the shots the pros get because a lot of tracks are closed to tourists...and i think the leopards know this!!
    rewarding because when you do get that great shot its been worth all the effort and clicks
    i long to go to namibia which has lions i would eat my tonsure to see
    cheers
    geof
  15. Nespresco

    Nespresco

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    Agreed, the African savannah is just a fantastic place to be whether you have a camera or not. Never been to Namibia but heard good things, personally I just love Kenya and my dad lives there so get the opportunity to go back each year. Regarding the closed paths, our driver seemed to be able to go anywhere and his knowledge was phenominal, He was maasai and had lived there all his life, knew a lot of the lions by name.
  16. mrtoad

    mrtoad

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    we saw paths ...hardly use ones...with a sign saying no entry or such
    we were told these were the access roads used by the filming people to do the wildlife programmes
    they are there for years on end and dont want us ruining a shot with a half dozen jeeps and those big open trucks disturbing a hard to repeat shot
    as i understand and if you watched the lion diaries you wouldnt see anyone except the film crew jeeps in shot
    cheers
    geof
  17. ozbuoy

    ozbuoy

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    Chris
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    I love the Masai Mara, I went there on my honeymoon in 2010 and i'm heading back there at the end of April. This time I've beefed up my camera equipment, so hopefully I should get some decent shots.

    Welldone on your photos.
  18. mrtoad

    mrtoad

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    tanzania is a great place as well...
  19. ozbuoy

    ozbuoy

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    I'd love to go but my wife won't let me go unless she is joining me and as we are trying for a child she isnt taking any risks that are associated with anti-malarial medication.

    I have a 7 night stay at the Mara Intrepids starting on the 1st of May.

    I'm just wondering how many people would be interested in perhaps a photo safari in 2013.
  20. dhackett

    dhackett

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    Hi Nespresco,

    We're taking an overlanding tour from Joberg, up through Zimbabwe to Vic Falls and back through Botswana to Joberg. Probably sharing trucks with another family or two but over three weeks with guide, cook and driver for approx £800 ea (not inc flights). Really looking forward to it as been to Tanzania and Ethiopia before but never with family and, more importantly, never with decent camera!

    Also just booked a week in the Netherlands over Easter, staying in a safari tent in a safari park. Plan is to get used to lens and try out some of these suggestions. I'll let you know how I get on
  21. dhackett

    dhackett

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    Well, I'm back from the Netherlands. Fantastic idea to stay in a safari tent. -3 on the first night so I wasn't too popular with the family! Had a really good week and free entry to the park meant that I could take as many pics of wildlife as I wanted. I do think there is something in the UV filter comment. I had a day of shooting with the filter then took it off for the remainder of the time. All the later pics are generally sharper than the first day. Could be me getting used to the lens but I'm certainly tempted to ditch the filter now.

    I didn't monitor light levels, but I also notice that I'm getting faster shutter speeds with later pics. Hardly rigorous research but I wonder of the filter also has an impact on light entering the lens.

    Overall, a good experience and I'd higly recommend something like this before committing to a big safari, but ultimately I'm not convinced I can get the shots I want from my 500D. Despite the improvements later in the week, I'm still not getting that sharpness in my shots that I'm looking for, even when I can get shutter speeds down to 1/1000th. Thinking about taking the plunge and going for a 5D Mk2 whilst there are bargains to be had. Hoping it's not just my rubbish photography that's causing poor shots!
  22. tezmed

    tezmed Dangerous to bathrooms

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    terry
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    some cracking pics!!!!

    always hard to focus in on something thats ultimately designed to be camouflaged!!!
  23. mrtoad

    mrtoad

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    vibrations from the jeep...get the driver to switch off the engine...

    or get out and stand on the ground..:LOL:

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