First time shooting sunbirds


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gooseberry

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Mar 11, 2004
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Well, was heading to meet the rest of the CS group for today's SBG outing and just happened to pass by Heliconia Walk when I saw a flash of movement in the corner of my eye - looked and realised it was a sunbird - had to stop and take a few shots as I hadn't seen sunbirds at SBG before.

Wanted to share what I learnt from taking these type of shots for the first time and getting some advice from the experienced birders here. All shots taken handheld with my consumer grade 70-300mm lens.

First thing I realised was - these little buggers are QUICK! and don't stay still for too long, so you have to be pretty fast to be able to get a shot of them.

This one just left vapour trails for me to sniff when I tried to take a shot of it.

#1: "Catch me if you can.... haha, too slow"


They're also very shy and sensitive to motion, so no loud noises or sudden movements. You need to patiently wait for them to land and slowly creep into range. If you're shooting handheld with a consumer grade lens, don't be afraid to raise the ISO to 400 to get acceptable shutter speeds as they are mainly in the shade - got quite a few of blur shots handheld. About the only time they'll be in one place for a while is to have a drink

#2: "Boy, all this camera dodging has made me thirsty!"


#3: "OK, where's my next drink ?"


Because they are so skittish, you don't get much time to frame and compose your shot properly, so it's often a case of sneaking up on them and firing away and hoping to get a few good shots and doing the cropping later.

#4: "Hah, caught you!"


#5: "Defying gravity..."


All in all, had a fun time this morning - hope to catch some more in the future.

Constructive comments appreciated.
 

sonix

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We should give a lot of encouragement for first timer :D :D

I think your photo are not bad at all. Good one is the clean background for last one. Nice composition for the third one

Color a bit off tho, what lens u use? maybe PS will help.. not very sure ;)
 

gooseberry

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Hi sonix,

Thanks for the words of encouragement. I was using the Sigma 70-300mm APO II on my D70. Shot in RAW, converted in Nikon Capture and removed in camera sharpening setting (forgot to set in camera sharpening to none), imported into PS, cropped, slight USM and resized - didn't do any other modifications to image.

Can I ask what do you mean by colours slighty off ? Too saturated ? Images are pretty much straright out of camera - except crop, USM and resize. Shot in colour mode sRGB IIIa (which gives me more saturated greens and reds).
 

shortcake

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Jul 16, 2004
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Wonderful shots. The day I manage to capture one that close, will be a very happy day for me. I like it's posture in #3. Maybe you could PS the distracting background away...
 

rainman

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Very nice...It proves that a consumer lens can do wonders! Cheers for u!
 

gooseberry

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Hi shortcake,

Thanks for the comments - yeah, I was quite happy with the results. Because they move around so much, quite difficult to get a good background - have to take the shots as and when you can. Haha, might try out some of the PS techniques we learnt the other day to clean the background.

BTW, nice meeting you the other day.
 

gooseberry

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Hi rainman,

Thanks, yeah quite happy with this lens - cheap but good. I noticed today that good hand holding techniques increases your number of keepers - but sometimes you don't have time to do this properly...
 

sonix

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gooseberry said:
Hi sonix,

Thanks for the words of encouragement. I was using the Sigma 70-300mm APO II on my D70. Shot in RAW, converted in Nikon Capture and removed in camera sharpening setting (forgot to set in camera sharpening to none), imported into PS, cropped, slight USM and resized - didn't do any other modifications to image.

Can I ask what do you mean by colours slighty off ? Too saturated ? Images are pretty much straright out of camera - except crop, USM and resize. Shot in colour mode sRGB IIIa (which gives me more saturated greens and reds).

What is your White balance for the shots? probably is because of the sRGB, but as long u like it thats fine ;)
 

gooseberry

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Hi Newguy69,

Thanks... good meeting you today. Didn't even notice you and jbma taking shots of the sunbirds as well! Probably we were there at different times.
 

RossChang

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May 2, 2004
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Hei, next time we also go take sunbird... been taking dragonflies for the last couple of outings...

Looking at your photos... I also wanna take a shot for my self... damn...
 

gooseberry

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sonix said:
What is your White balance for the shots? probably is because of the sRGB, but as long u like it thats fine ;)
Hi sonix,

I was shooting in Cloudy -2, it was quite overcast today and the -2 gives me slightly warmer colours. Haven't looked at the photos on another monitor yet - colours look good on my old laptop LCD screen - but it isn't calibrated.

I've actually quite liked the colours coming straight out of the D70, haven't had a need to do any post processing on this aspect.

It might be the sRGB mode IIIa as it seems to be a special Nikon sRGB mode - I'll try having a look at these on a machine that doesn't have any Nikon software installed.
 

gooseberry

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Hi Ross,

Good meeting you today. Hehe, yeah taking dragonfly shots can get a bit same old same old after a couple of times, I quite enjoyed taking shots of the sunbirds - probably 'cos of it being my first time and found it a bit of a challenge.
 

edwinywh

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Wow,wee....this is really such a fun outing! :D
I got an idea how those guys caught those dragon flies,bees shots already.
Indeed its impressive! :thumbsup:
 

2100

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Mar 3, 2004
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Maybe can invest in a monopod. Even using it right straight up (not the best way to use it), you can easily get 1 stop advantage compared to handholding. Very fast to setup too, have to be careful if you move around with it on the monopod though.
 

rainman

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gooseberry said:
Hi rainman,

Thanks, yeah quite happy with this lens - cheap but good. I noticed today that good hand holding techniques increases your number of keepers - but sometimes you don't have time to do this properly...

Welcome. Amazed that u have great holding power ;p 9 out of 10 times my pictures will come out blur due to handshake esp on such long end. :thumbsup:

Even with monopod, it just gets slightly better..keke think its time for me to do some exercise.
 

ccplim

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Jan 6, 2004
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2100 said:
Maybe can invest in a monopod. Even using it right straight up (not the best way to use it), you can easily get 1 stop advantage compared to handholding. Very fast to setup too, have to be careful if you move around with it on the monopod though.
Agreed with you. A monopod will sure help a little.

OT abit. How's your new 50-500? Show us some pics too leh :D
 

Avatar

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gooesberry, the first one looks really abstract, not sure why but I love the effects in an artistic POV :)

You might wanna watch for the highlights (in the background) in the 2nd one, that can ruin a perfectly good shot if not handled properly. The 3rd and 4th pieces are pretty well done, good job! Keep them coming! ;)
 

gooseberry

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Mar 11, 2004
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2100 said:
Maybe can invest in a monopod. Even using it right straight up (not the best way to use it), you can easily get 1 stop advantage compared to handholding. Very fast to setup too, have to be careful if you move around with it on the monopod though.
ccplim said:
Agreed with you. A monopod will sure help a little.
Thanks guys for the suggestion. Might look into getting one - can use it as a walking stick and leaning pole when waiting for the birdies...

ccplim said:
OT abit. How's your new 50-500? Show us some pics too leh :D
Sorry, but were you asking 2100 or me ? I don't have the 50-500, although it might be quite usefult for birding ;p
 

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