Help request for bird image

relic

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This is an attempt at bird photography. My guess is that the bird is a dark-eyed junco (I Googled)-- correct?. I would be grateful for any comments or suggestions for my next attempt. I know I have misjudged the exposure (back lighting resulted in under-exposure that I tried to correct in post-processing).

E-P1 with ED Zuiko 70-300mm f/4-5.6 + adpater, f/11, 1/50 s, ISO 1600, IS off, tripod, remote shutter release, jpeg file. I processed in Elements 8, and used Noiseware (standard edition) to reduce noise. Crop: 20% of frame. Image quality was probably made worse because I took the picture through a glass window (it was rather convenient to be inside both for warmth and to avoid frightening the birds).

I would be very grateful for any comments on image quality, focus, noise and noise reduction, or anything else. Thank you for looking (and commenting).
 

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BBW

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It certainly looks like a Junco. Relic, I don't know what part of the world you live in... I do know that our Robins here in the states do not look a bit like the Robins over in the UK. http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Dark-eyed_Junco/id

Do you need to use such a high ISO to take a picture like this? I'm sure it would help to use a lower one for better color and not have to worry about "noise". No doubt the seasoned bird photographers here will be of much more help than I.:wink:
 

russell

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I'm very interested in the answers from the experts too as I want to get into wildlife myself. My first thought would be to get closer (build a hide if needs be) to avoid cropping, and further reduce the noise by going to a lower ISO. Maybe f/5.6 and ISO 400 and focus on the eye. Shouldn't have a problem with DOF but I could be wrong (guessing from 35mm experience.)
 

bilzmale

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The shot shows 'smearing' of the feather detail caused by over-cleaning of noise. f/11 is quite a small aperture giving a long shutter time even at high ISO (impossible without tripod and remote release).

I'd open the aperture to no more than 5.6 and apply less noise reduction to get more feather detail. Overall a good first effort and you will get better.
 

relic

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Thank you all very much for taking the time to offer your thoughtful, helpful suggestions. Everyone agreed that my ISO was too high resulting in degradation of the image.

BBW: I'm in North Carolina (it just started snowing again:smile:) I thought I needed to avoid a very shallow DOF in order to get the whole bird in focus. I went overboard with f/11 (which gives DOF of 7.7 in, 20cm). f/5.6 (as I now checked) should give 3.8 in (10 cm) which would be just sufficient, but it leaves little room for the bird moving out of the zone of focus (I had prefocused on the birdseed dish). I should try automatic focus but my initial attempts were not very successful. I hope to try again tomorrow keeping in mind what I've learned here. Thank you again.

russell: I was using the lens at 200mm (I forgot to mention that fact), and I could have used a longer focal length (up to 300) and got a 'closer' picture. But I wanted to allow enough room for the bird to be within the frame when it was on either side of the food dish. But now that I know that the birds will come (sooner or later) to eat, I could zoom further and just shoot when the bird is within the (now) narrower field of view. Unfortunately the birds don't sit still, and I've not found it possible (so far) to manually focus on the eye; using AF would just focus wherever it decides to. I could use a larger aperture, prefocus as I did, and just take lots of pictures with the hope that a few might be in focus. One thing I noticed was that in very few of pictures was the beak sharp, so I should use a higher shutter speed (I'll need to wait for sunshine, I think). Thank you for your suggestions.

Luckypenguin: Tomorrow I'll use lower ISO and larger aperture. Hopefully, next week we'll have some sunshine and I'll be able to also use higher shutter speeds (especially to freeze the beaks which are blurred in many of my pictures). Many thanks.

bilzmale: Thank you for pointing out the smearing. I wonder how shooting through the window (two thicknesses of non-optical glass, with four non-coated surfaces) might have affected image quality. I find it hard to tell how sharp and how smeared (or how noisy) a photo is (I think I need new eyeglasses). I'll use a wider aperture next time. Many thanks for your comments and encouragement.
 

relic

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Second attempt

I have tried again using the advice forum members have generously given me. I used a lower ISO, a larger aperture, and a slightly longer focal length. I think the resulting image quality is much better. With more practice, I might hope one day be able to post images that approach the general level of forum members' images. Thanks again for your help.
 

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BBW

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relic, I think that birds have to be one of the more difficult due to their not exactly holding still for the photographer. This looks a lot better color wise and the background looks good being out of focus. I don't know what shutter speed you chose, or anything else...but I think you should experiment to see if you can lessen the movement of this little fellow - or of one of his pals.

I'm very appreciative of your posting your pictures and questions here and my bet is that there are quite a few others who are learning by reading.

Everyone continues to learn as they take pictures. I don't think anyone can exist who doesn't. :thumbup:
 

relic

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Many thanks, BB, for your comments. I am figuring out that birds are a difficult subject (maybe I should try squirrels instead!) I gather from what you said that the bird is blurred (obviously I must have difficulty with determining sharpness). I used 1/50 s (I know this is much too slow, but I didn't want to use ISO 1600 this time), f/7.1 at ISO 800. Clearly I should have waited for better light. Yet the blurriness may not be due only to bird movement but also possibly to poor focus (I cannot tell), and perhaps also to the two thicknesses of window glass through which I took the picture (this old man prefers not to sit for hours in freezing temperature to take a picture of a bird:smile:

"Everyone continues to learn as they take pictures. I don't think anyone can exist who doesn't."
There is bound to be one exception:smile:

Thank you again.
 

relic

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Before abandoning birds for squirrels, and at the risk of belaboring this thread, one final attempt: I took this last Thursday when it was sunny and the ice started to melt. I used a higher shutter speed (as BB had suggested), and a lower ISO (as everyone had suggested). Shutter speed 1/200 s, f/7.1, EV +0.3, ISO 400, FL 226 mm. I think it is less blurry than my previous efforts.

I would like to thank everyone for their helpful suggestions.
 

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