This is me - thank you for your kindness to a Newbie

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This is another attempt at that Blog. Being new I wanted to tell you a little about my photography and relationship to birds. My photography passion is Landscape but birds, being something I have always kept an eye out for, are a wonderful diversion. Well any wildlife is but birds are the greater challenge and reward – at least I think so. I shoot garden and forest but also lake and sea – anything really I guess – watch out in May-July when I start sneaking in Dragonflies. You are very kind on your comments with regards to my pics and I wish I could say I am usually satisfied, but I am not. If I get 5% of shots that I think okay – that is a good day. If I get 2% that I think are good – that is a very good day indeed. Thank goodness for Digital Cameras.
Equipment? I use a Nikon D300s with mainly a Nikon 18-200mm zoom. If I purposefully go out to shoot birds on a bright or semi bright day I fit my Sigma 50-500mm as I did today (Sunday 5th December and you have seen some of the results). I think 2 or 3 are good – it was a good day.
I do not have a technique that I always use – it is a variable depending on the usual things, time of day, quality of light, sunny, dull, background. The forest birds I tend to shoot speed priority at about 1/250 and if necessary maintain the speed by ISO changes. My D300s is pretty reasonable against noise even up to 1600 as long as that is not combined with major cropping. I set exposure consistent at -0.7 (except in dark wooded areas) as I feel this gives me a richer print and accentuates the colours. I also tend to shoot with a polariser in place which again enriches the colours. (No – not for the yellow duck) I guess this is a fall back to landscape for IMHO a polariser is as necessary as a lens for landscape. I tend to set single point exposure and focus or centre weighted for these little darlings
When we get to the waders/ducks etc I change systems. Aperture priority is virtually the only setting and I keep reasonably wide apertures 4/5.6/7.1, rarely anything more. I like to always focus on the eyes and any fall off of DoF when the eyes are clear – I feel adds to the picture. Or maybe I just take a lot of blurred shots and use that as an excuse. I also like the more dramatic – head close ups, in flight, water drips after they have just dived. Notice I try these shots with Ducks etc but not the forest birds – why – because the lake birds are relatively slow and far easier to get a dramatic but successful picture. Forest birds I would have to firstly get them in frame and then be shooting at 1/1000 to have a chance of a blue tit “coming in to land”. I try – I fail – I try again and so on. I tend to use a monopod and use VR when on the monopod or hand held. If I use the tripod I turn VR off. I also set focus at centre weighted mainly so that the camera will recognise movement and help out.
I am pretty useless at computer work at the moment but Alan T and another guy have started helping me with things. Alan taught me a couple of weeks ago how to put a frame around my pictures and my, what a difference it makes. My New Years resolution is to learn the relative bits of Photoshop Elements as I am assured it will be of great help especially with my Landscape stuff. I also want to do proper Macro and HDR in 2011. I cannot wait for it to start.
Anyway – that’s me.

Comments

6 Dec, 2010
Stickipuffin_avatar
stickitoffee said:

i shall look forward to seeing the results, lovely photos so far ~ i love dragonflies but have very few pictures ~ they are so quick!! maybe my canon G10 is not the right tool for the job but im still learning to use it! havent got to grips with the all the numbers and would still like to learn more of photoshop!

6 Dec, 2010
Wren_nest_building_edited_2
littlewren said:

I just knew you were a technical wizard with the camera by your lovely photographs. I will just have to do with my foolproof Panasonic

6 Dec, 2010
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bonkersbon said:

Glad you were able to post Mike .. see that Kenrick has given some belt and braces tips which are great esp if internet connection goes on the blink.

Began by explaining the save and preview button then thought better try myself and encountered same problem ! Thanks to Ajay for sorting .. the save and preview is always worth doing as Aster suggested , esp after submitting photo(s) to your draft .

If similar problems ever occur in future you wont have to wait till end of blog to find they cant be submitted and always helpful to be able to prepare a blog over a period of time.

Like Littlewren we have a Panasonic - my days of real keen photography go back to manual settings and admit have become quite lazy with all auto settings avaliable.

Some wonderful photography being submitted and truly envious of the quality and some of the locations members have been to.

I sincerely hope that the site remains as friendly as it is and open to all whatever their skill or equipment level and that we continue to acknowledge one anothers interest based on our love of birds and wildlife.

6 Dec, 2010
Stoke_city_vs_bristol_city_006
mike said:

Heh - there is nothing wrong with "foolproof" panasonics either. I also shoot - what I think are nice photos - with my Canon IXUS compact. My wife who shoots with a Nikon 200 swears by her IXUS for all wide angle stuff

6 Dec, 2010
Stoke_city_vs_bristol_city_006
mike said:

Bonkersbon - I just wanted to reiterate your sentiments on open to all.
I am the Chair of a local camera club and we have one or two guys who are capable of making my pictures look pretty awful thank you. But the club also has one member who does not even have a camera - "but wants to get one when she can". We have recently introduced a 30 minutes to an hour before the club starts each week for the people with "less experience" and Alan and I wrote handouts and created presentations for them to use to build up their skill base. The club has only been going about 5 years and had a varying membership of 12-20 souls. This core though are mainly a really friendly and social bunch but needed help and support. Alan and I joined at about the same time - last April - and after a couple of months of getting used to it we started to help out. We then became Execs at the AGM in September and since then the club has really moved forward, the membership seem to look forward to the night (and to outings/workshops we now arrange) and we now stand at 34 members with 23/25 regulars. Most of the "newbies are inexperienced but are made to feel as much of the club as anyone and if they have a need there is always someone there to give a hand. I would say it is very much like the friendliness of ISAB.

6 Dec, 2010
Stickipuffin_avatar
stickitoffee said:

thats really good, and well done to you and alan, the local camera club here are rather too expert for me and dont have a beginners section.

6 Dec, 2010
P1220732
bonkersbon said:

The club sounds brilliant Mike just wish lived a little closer , as ST has said some are a bit elitist - as are some bird sites - sadly not everyone has the level of patience yourself and Alan seem able to extend.

6 Dec, 2010
Stoke_city_vs_bristol_city_006
mike said:

What are you saying bonkersbon Alan and I ARE elitist ------------ thats good ain't it???? lol

6 Dec, 2010
P1220732
bonkersbon said:

Thats Ok Mike .. you cant be that bad or the club would probably only have 2 members .

6 Dec, 2010
Stickipuffin_avatar
stickitoffee said:

elitist with a sense of humour ~ thats allowed!

6 Dec, 2010
015
aster said:

Thank you for your explanation of your photography Mike,unfortunately most of it went straight over my head lol.
I try to use all the gismos on my camera but I'm never quick enough to remember which ones to use.If I ever get a decent shot I've changed the settings so many times my heads in a spin :)))
Think I'll give up,sit back and just enjoy your beautiful photo's :)

6 Dec, 2010
Stickipuffin_avatar
stickitoffee said:

sounds a good plan to me aster!
i keep trying with mine too ~ thats why my computer is full of thousands of photos ~ occasionally i get one im pleased with ~ makes it all worth while.

6 Dec, 2010
Stoke_city_vs_bristol_city_006
mike said:

Don't give me that Aster I have looked at your pics and you do some beauties - look at the moth pics for a start - wonderful.
Me thinks you ladies "protesteth too much" and know that you take some good pics. I throw away volumes of stuff to keep hold of the ones that are acceptable and the good ones are rare - like swans teeth eh lol.

7 Dec, 2010
P1090048
bloominrosey said:

Very interesting Mike, especially the techie jargon. I knew that your camera was either a Canon or Nikon. Much of a muchness despite the intense rivalry. As for the Panasonic and other less expensive cameras - wasn't it the BBC who chose a snapshot camera's photo for their winner this year, some sheep in snow? I will look forward to your macro shots with interest as I also love macro photography and can't wait for the spring with all the insects etc. Thanks for some lovely pictures.

7 Dec, 2010
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jane said:

Im enjoying all your photos Mike,and the club sounds just brilliant.Well done both of you....

7 Dec, 2010
015
aster said:

Thank you for your encouragement Mike :)
I was quite pleased with the moth pics it seems to be the long distance ones-birds on feeders that are not very sharp.I suppose they are at the limit of focus. Maybe I should use my car as a hide like Nick lol :))
Yes Bloominrosey it was the BBC Countryfile photo/calender competition for Children in Need. We've had one for the past few years,some cracking photo's in it :)

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