Beginner A Question for bird photographers

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Paul
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#1
Just recently I've been trying to get some BIF shots. So trying to keep the shutter speed up and the aperture at something to give a reasonable DoF I have the camera in manual and use auto iso to take care of the exposure, however when taking a shot against a light background i.e. sky, I need to over expose slightly to get the right exposure for the subject. Neither my EM5i or EM10ii will allow exposure comp in manual so how do I get the right exposre for the bird?
 
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Barry
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#2
The whole point of Manual is to "manually" use the camera - you've immediately obviated this by using auto-ISO. Set every parameter yourself - don't let the camera decide.

Simply take a meter reading of something mid-grey (18% grey if you're a purist) and use this as the basis for your exposure. Green grass is good - just make sure it's illuminated the same as your subject will be.

Let's just say you get a meter reading 1/500 at f/11 with 400 ISO. To overexpose by +1 stop either shoot at 1/250, or f/8 or 200 ISO. The point is, just changing one parameter will give you +1 stop extra exposure.

You'll have to experiment to start with but you're in control - NOT the camera!

Imagine what it was like with film? At least you can look at the rear screen nowadays!
 
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#3
What he says ^^^^ but look at the histogram :)
 

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#5
The whole point of Manual is to "manually" use the camera

Yes, and the not so obvious goal is to be faster to adapt to new situation
avoiding the "usual" margin of error inherent to Auto everything either in
terms of exposure or AF for ex.

My typical setup on my D850 / 600 mm ƒ4 combo looks like this:
  • Manual Mode — this is fix
  • Auto ISO — this is fix too
  • ƒ 8 — hardly ever tweak that one
  • 1/1000 s — as a starting value
  • Matrix metering
  • BBF
I advocate EETL thus protecting the whites at all cost — keeping an eye
on the histogram for control and using EV +/- for adjustment.
 
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John
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#6
Great advice, as always Kodiak, but on this occasion the OP does not have access to exposure compensation. With this in mind, unfortunately, auto iso is not a workable option.
 

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#7
on this occasion the OP does not have access to exposure compensation. With this in mind, unfortunately, auto iso is not a workable option.

Thanks for reminding me that, John! :cool:

So, if no EV available, I will suggest this corrected version:

I advocate EETL thus protecting the whites at all cost — keeping an eye
on the histogram for control and SS and / or ƒ stop for adjustment depen-
ding on a static subject or action capture.
Thanks again, John! HTH.
 
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#8
Great advice, as always Kodiak, but on this occasion the OP does not have access to exposure compensation. With this in mind, unfortunately, auto iso is not a workable option.
Yep that's exactly the point I was getting at. So I guess the real question is what's the best alternative?
 

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#10
@Kodiak Qc Sorry being a bit thick here. EETL?

I am apparently the only one to advocate for Expose To The Left
protecting the whites at all cost— while most others advocate
ETTR — Expose To The Right.

Legitimate question, Paul, I had to learn that too! :cool:
 

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#12
So I guess the real question is what's the best alternative?

See my corrected / adapted answer in post #7
 

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#14
Great advice, as always Kodiak

My daughter just took my attention to these words I over read, John,
because we both read that a clique here strongly accuse me of the
exact opposite… :D:D:D
 

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#15
There is a vid on youtube of one of the best bird photographers explaining how he does it.

I'm sure if you have a good search you can find it.

But for me it did not make things much easier, it is hard to expose a dark bird with light background, especially if it is small, moving very fast and has a changing background light level.
 

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#16
it is hard to expose a dark bird with light background, especially if it is small, moving very fast and has a changing background light level.

That's right, buddy, but the tool we use is a camera…
not a magic wand! :)
 
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Mike
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#17
Paul
,

This point on exposing to the left has been laboured and laboured by Kodiak on countless occasions, and is so badly wrong I cant quite fathom why he keeps trying it on.

Please, please , please ignore this advice, the best exposure is 'exposing to the RIGHT' whilst not blowing any highlights. This will provide you with potentially the highest possible IQ. Exposing to the left results in increased noise and a lack of detail.

I'll leave it up to you to look into the reasons as otherwise the thread will drop into petty arguments and useless advice

Mike
 
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#18
So, if no EV available, I will suggest this corrected version:

I advocate EETL thus protecting the whites at all cost — keeping an eye
on the histogram for control and SS and / or ƒ stop for adjustment depen-
ding on a static subject or action capture..

Sorry maybe I've misunderstood or I'm still being a bit thick, but I still don't see how this will allow me to expose to the left. If I adjust either shutter speed or aperture then surely the auto iso will just compensate and set the expose back to what it “thinks” is correct?
 
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#19
Sorry maybe I've misunderstood or I'm still being a bit thick, but I still don't see how this will allow me to expose to the left. If I adjust either shutter speed or aperture then surely the auto iso will just compensate and set the expose back to what it “thinks” is correct?
Don't use auto ISO.

On any given day, the sky's luminance will not change much. Take a photo early in the session without worrying about the artistry. If it is overexposed, reduce your exposure. If it is underexposed, increase your exposure. As the sky is constant in the short term, you should not need to adjust exposure between shots for quite a long time.
 

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GTG

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#22
So, it is green peas and peas green!
Important is protecting the whites at all cost
or not blowing any highlight! :D
Expose so that you are just starting to creep into the last channel on the right of the histogram is ideal.

That is what one of the top Canon bird togs said in a video ( although he moved to Nikon now )
 
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#23
I think the whole thing here is - switch off anything which will automate the exposure if you can't make EV compensation.

Remember, it's expose TO the right not PAST the right - get as much detail out of the shadows you can (and reduce noise doing it) whilst not blowing out the highlights :)

Using RAW will improve matters somewhat in protecting detail at both ends of the dynamic range.
 
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#24
Thanks for all the replies. My main take away from this is don't bother with auto iso, expose to the left/right/top/bottom/middle but whatever you do keep an eye on the histogram.
 

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#25
Thanks for all the replies. My main take away from this is don't bother with auto iso, expose to the left/right/top/bottom/middle but whatever you do keep an eye on the histogram.

Yes, absolutely, Paul! :)

btw, top/bottom/middle is waaaay less relevant! :cool:
 
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#26
Thanks for all the replies. My main take away from this is don't bother with auto iso, expose to the left/right/top/bottom/middle but whatever you do keep an eye on the histogram.
Hi, No offence here but did you even have a lok at the link I posted earlier? Tim Boyer is a very good bird photographer even just written a book on the suject. AUTO ISO video from him.
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAZihW0c_kA
 
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#27
@russellsnr Yes I did, and I agree he has produced an excellent series of videos, but he's telling me to do exactly what I have been having a problem with, namely using auto iso when shooting a bird against a bright sky leaves me with a nice silhouette and no detail.
 
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#28
I am apparently the only one to advocate for Expose To The Left
protecting the whites at all cost— while most others advocate
ETTR — Expose To The Right.

Legitimate question, Paul, I had to learn that too! :cool:
Sorry I really cannot agree with this and it does appear you are quite unique in advocating this way..
I am self taught at what I do , all help from either Magazines or TP and I may add that I was advised from a professional wildlife photographer who visited my little owl site to expose to the right ...I was shown this both by eye and using the histogram ,now this wildlife photographer as had thousands of images published ....I also practice this as well now @Kodiak Qc so a serious question .....am I doing this wrong and should I expose to the left so unsure on who's advice to take here as you do labour the point to newcomers to ETTL
 
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#29
@den @Kodiak Qc Having given it a little more thought it appears to me that this whole ETTL vs ETTR business rather depends on the subject. If I'm trying to shoot, for example, an egret against a dark backgroung then I would assume that I need to expose to the left and make sure that I preserve the detail in the whites, I couldn't care less about the background. If however we go to the other extreme and say I'm shooting a blackbird against a light background then surely the opposite applies and I need to be exposing to the right as I want the detail in the dark blackbird and couldn't give a stuff about blowing out the light background. Or have I just completely misunderstood?
 
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#31
Just get a correct exposure for what you are shooting,,,,Kodiak talks a good photograph that’s about it
Oh, I don't know - he's usually quite right about dynamic range and it's importance in various aspects of 'paid for' photography.

As the OP has just stated it's a question of getting it right for the subject in question - Egrets against a dark background is spot on and it's down to personal taste, but blown-out white feathered birds just will not cut it!

@Pag Get yourself a film camera and a roll of slide film, you'll soon learn (well after processing ;) ) - many of us oldsters cut our teeth on trying to get superb images from a medium that will only record a dynamic range of around 7 EVs (Extachrome had an exposure latitude of just ± 0.5 stop) :)
 
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#32
Hi, No offence here but did you even have a lok at the link I posted earlier? Tim Boyer is a very good bird photographer even just written a book on the suject. AUTO ISO video from him.
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAZihW0c_kA
He doesn't address the fact that any 'auto' mode in the conditions described will underexpose.
Frankly I've never seen a less useful video 'lesson'. He say's nothing of any use at all. To the point he wound me up. :dummy:
 
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#34
Sorry I really cannot agree with this and it does appear you are quite unique in advocating this way..
I am self taught at what I do , all help from either Magazines or TP and I may add that I was advised from a professional wildlife photographer who visited my little owl site to expose to the right ...I was shown this both by eye and using the histogram ,now this wildlife photographer as had thousands of images published ....I also practice this as well now @Kodiak Qc so a serious question .....am I doing this wrong and should I expose to the left so unsure on who's advice to take here as you do labour the point to newcomers to ETTL
If you think there's only one way to 'get it right' you're on a fools errand.

The basic advice for all photographers is 'do whatever works for you', the problem with that advice is when someone hasn't found what works for them and they get conflicting advice.

The catch 22 is that once you understand what you're doing; you then know who's advice to take.
 
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#35
@russellsnr Yes I did, and I agree he has produced an excellent series of videos, but he's telling me to do exactly what I have been having a problem with, namely using auto iso when shooting a bird against a bright sky leaves me with a nice silhouette and no detail.
It's crap advice if you can't use exposure compensation - it's frustrating that the people who advocate that method ignore the thousands of camera owners that the advice doesn't apply to.

If I'm trying to shoot, for example, an egret against a dark backgroung then I would assume that I need to expose to the left and make sure that I preserve the detail in the whites, I couldn't care less about the background. If however we go to the other extreme and say I'm shooting a blackbird against a light background then surely the opposite applies and I need to be exposing to the right as I want the detail in the dark blackbird and couldn't give a stuff about blowing out the light background. Or have I just completely misunderstood?
I'll see if I can produce the lightbulb moment, seperate what your meter thinks it's evaluating from your subject.

It doesn't matter to you whether your subject is dark against bright, dark against dark, bright against dark or bright against bright. Your aim is to expose the subject properly, your camera is making a guess at what you want to do and what to prioritise. So your judgement should be based on te light falling on your subject, not the light entering the camera.
So lets say you are photographing a gull. You can meter from a gull sat on the grass in the same light and lock that in in M mode, then if you shoot a gull flying against a bright sky, the histogram will shift across to the right but your gull is still coreectly exposed. Now when your gull flies past a forest (still in the same light) your gull is still exposed properly but the histogram shifts to the left.

Hope that helps.
 
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GC
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#36
The basic advice for all photographers is 'do whatever works for you'
:agree:100%

Try ETTL, try ETTR and practice, practice, practice:). Remember ABS: Always Be Shooting;)

GC
 
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#37
@Phil V Yes the lightbulb is on and I understand what you are saying about a correctly exposed subject being correctly exposed regardless of the background. However in my limited experience with bird photography my problem is finding the correct exposure in the first place, the first time I see the damn thing is usually when it flies across in front of me. I'm not naïve enough to believe anyone can give me a simple answer in a single sentence on web forum, so I guess the real answer is trial and error and practice, followed by more practice. But if anyone does have any simple “tricks of the trade” then they would be more than welcome.
 
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#38
@Phil V Yes the lightbulb is on and I understand what you are saying about a correctly exposed subject being correctly exposed regardless of the background. However in my limited experience with bird photography my problem is finding the correct exposure in the first place, the first time I see the damn thing is usually when it flies across in front of me. I'm not naïve enough to believe anyone can give me a simple answer in a single sentence on web forum, so I guess the real answer is trial and error and practice, followed by more practice. But if anyone does have any simple “tricks of the trade” then they would be more than welcome.
You’ve misunderstood ‘lightbulb moment’ (you appear to have thought i was referring to the lights being on).:banghead:

I’ll try again. You don’t need to see your subject, you can measure the light falling on a tree, a road, a lawn etc. Once your M exposure is set, you’re good to go.
 

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#39
If you ever do find simple tricks of the trade, let me know. There is a great deal of advice on the web, some from so-called experts which as shown above sometimes goes against the grain or is poor. BIF are difficult, especially small ones. The posts from Chuckles accord with my understanding but I am no expert.

I would suggest starting on large slow flying birds that do not rapidly change their flight path. Don't expect a high hit rate.
 
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