Birds in flight Settings

Messages
159
Name
Liam
Edit My Images
Yes
#1
Hi hope this is in the right section,
I have been offered to go up to the Farne Islands at the weekend for the puffins,
I have never been before and not really shot birds in flight,
With it not being exactly cheap I don’t really want to mess it up and at least come away with some useable shots,
Can anyone with this experience please share some advice on what would be best for me to start out on settings wise,
It’s a D7500 and I’d be using Tamron 150-600 G2,
I’d just like to get some sharp in flight shots so the day isn’t going to be wasted,
Ideally I should of practiced beforehand but it’s last minute decision and I took it,
I was kinda thinking 1/2000, 6.3 and Group AF, but unsure on iso settings, maybe auto iso ?
I currently use matrix metering which I find ok for most things, but I did try a bird before and the bird was dark,
So I’m guessing another metering mode, maybe spot for BIF ?
Hope I’ve covered everything here to get the most accurate advice,
Thanks in advance
 
Messages
748
Name
Phil
Edit My Images
No
#2
I would use manual exposure, set your shutter speed and aperture and choose a suitable ISO.

Puffins are mainly Black and White so trying to use spot metering and auto exposure, depending on where the spot falls on the bird the meter will try to make that black or white appear grey so will not expose correctly for the bird... take a reading from somewhere that looks neutral, such as grass, do a test exposure and use that in manual...
 
Messages
539
Name
Pete
Edit My Images
Yes
#3
I was told that all, well, most birds have white on them somewhere, so expose for white* so the highlights aren't blown, you can easily bring back the darker colours in raw.
*(Unless you're shooting crows, ravens etc)
 
Messages
3,511
Name
John
Edit My Images
Yes
#4
If using auto iso, make sure that you set an upper limit, that you are comfortable with.
 
Messages
539
Name
Pete
Edit My Images
Yes
#5
Hi hope this is in the right section,

I believe there is a bird section but it got a bit heated in there a while back, lots of bans etc., more heated than a "Clash of wedding tog's":p
 
Last edited:
Messages
4,563
Name
Mike
Edit My Images
Yes
#8
Hi pal, don't be worried about getting stuck into the bird section. Most of the issues were a long while ago, but people still like to make mention of it. Pretty decent in there now.

Regarding puffins in flight - they are seriously quick little bullets. They require a little thought to give you a decent chance of a sharp shot. Look at the light angle, and if possible get the light directly behind you. Shadows are difficult to avoid in bright light, so you need to be careful of your light angle. Test the wind direction, they like to land into the wind. Try to look for a regular flight pattern - on my most successful session I realised they were all flying in a loop behind me, which incidentally coincided with the best light angle. Do these things early on and try and resist just getting there and shooting anything that moves.

AF is difficult for a camera. I'm lucky to have good gear, and even my kit struggles. Best way I've found it to pre-focus on an area you think they're going to fly into (you'll know this from your earlier research!!), pick up the bird early in its flight when its way out of focus, then track it as it approaches the AF zone. As it arrives, activate the continuous AF and hope for the best! Be prepared for a lot of failures!

Get the shutter up as fast as possible, push the ISO if necessary, keep the aperture open if required - shutter speed is far more important that DoF here - I was up at 1/4000th and above.

All that together gave me these kind of results - all the best!

Puffin in flight
by Mike, on Flickr

Puffin
by Mike, on Flickr
 
Messages
130
Name
Phil
Edit My Images
No
#9
Agree totally with pooley and Monkeyhangar. A fast shutter speed is totally the order of the day - as fast as possible. Shooting on Manual is a good idea, and I have found that setting the ISO to Auto can help as it allows you to control the shutter speed and aperture. I use the Tamron 150-600mm G2 on a Canon 5DIII and have found those settings to be the most helpful. Also many people recommend turning off the image stabilisation, as, truthfully, it doesn't seem to work at all well with really fast moving subjects such as puffins, and certain other birds.

I try very hard not to use the lens wide open, so the aperture control allows me to set it between f8 and f11 where it seems to give the best results - the use of Auto ISO lets the camera then control the ISO. You can usually then post process for any excess grain - but, at the moment, the light seems to be very good on most days so you shouldn't stray into really high ISO levels.

Others may disagree, but hope this helps a little, by emphasising the good advice given above.
 
OP
OP
Liam_89
Messages
159
Name
Liam
Edit My Images
Yes
#10
Thanks for the replies appreciate it
I have just got back from shooting the puffins
I used 1/2000 f8 and group af with 800 iso
I’ll get some shots up later
I tried on auto iso and it seemed like every shot was under exposed
 
Messages
3,511
Name
John
Edit My Images
Yes
#11
That's when exposure compensation can come into it's own.

Different camera bodies, can perform differently, e.g. I tend to find, that my D500 overexposes about a 1/2 stop, so will use exposure compensation to correct.
 
Messages
130
Name
Phil
Edit My Images
No
#12
"Mea culpa" - sorry! Forgot to mention that you need to select the metering mode carefully, as this also controls how the camera sees the subject. On my 5DIII I have the following:
1. Evaluative Metering - the general purpose mode for most situations; but do BIK fit this?
2. Partial Metering - effective when the background is much brighter; meters just over 6% at the centre.
3. Spot Metering - just what it says, about 1.5% at the centre.
4. Centre Weighted Metering - weighted to the centre but averaged over the whole area.
If you look at my recent post:
https://www.talkphotography.co.uk/threads/the-joy-of-flight.682221/
all the shots were taken using the "Evaluative" mode, but the birds were much bigger and, probably. much closer than your puffins. Don't know your D7500 but, having done a little reading about its capabilities, it does look quite different. You need to consider the lighting conditions and then select appropriately, as this can affect the finished image significantly.

Hope the pictures turned out OK and, at least, they will be a valuable learning tool for the future.
 
Messages
6,811
Edit My Images
No
#13
To add to the advice above.

I use Centre weighted average because very few birds will occupy the whole frame, never in my (limited experience) partial or spot metering because the likelihood of keeping the metering zone on the bird are very low.

Also, rule of thumb for me is if the bird has a clear bright sky (i.e. not a dark overcast sky) behind it then I dial in Exposure Compensation of up to + 1.5 to ensure the bird is the main subject exposed well as the sky can 'take care of itself....' The same Exposure Compensation approach is need for airshow photography.

NB This has been with all the Canon bodies I have owned (350D, 40D, 7D and now 5D3)...............incidently I have always found that Canon seem to underexpose by about a 1/3 of a stop so I usually have the +1/3 dialed in for daily setup. Re: Auto ISO unless the camera body allows (the Canon 5D3 does not :( ) exposure compensation in Manual mode then shutter priority with auto ISO Note ~ I think I read that some Nikon bodies do allow for Exp Comp in manual mode!
 
OP
OP
Liam_89
Messages
159
Name
Liam
Edit My Images
Yes
#14
Cheers guys,
I’ve never ever used exposure compensation,
not sure where to start on that one,
I’ll need to practice with it,
I got some useable shots I’ve just edited a couple of them and I seem to be somewhat happy with what I got,
Considering I’ve not done anything like this before they look ok to me.
Majority of them were 1/2000 iso 800 and f8 with matrix metering and group af,
Most of these comments above come in after I visited and did the shoot,
But I’m still very grateful for the tips
I have taken these on board and will put them into practice next time I’m out and see if I can improve on what I got today,
I will post a few pics in this thread in the morning so you can see what’s what,
Thanks again for the input it’s very helpful
 
OP
OP
Liam_89
Messages
159
Name
Liam
Edit My Images
Yes
#15
Last edited:
Messages
539
Name
Pete
Edit My Images
Yes
#16
I really like the tern shot, that pointy beak ;) I also like the puffin landing on your flickr
 
Last edited:
Messages
369
Name
Lindsay
Edit My Images
Yes
#17
I love the tern shot. As a former pilot, I love to watch birds taking off and landing, and when they fool about with air currents
 
Messages
2,894
Name
Simon Everett
Edit My Images
Yes
#18
Great first go. You should be pleased with them - interesting to see the 1/4000th shots above and the wing tips still have movement in them. That gives an idea of just how fast their wingbeats are.
 
Top