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What's wrong with this photo?

Discussion in 'Nature' started by ssgreenley, Sep 5, 2011.

  1. ssgreenley

    ssgreenley Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 12, 2011
    The duck in the corner lacks detail. Am I underexposed or out of focus? Shot @ 300mm, so if it's underexposed, how the fizzle can I brighten a subject that far away? This is my first super telephoto, so any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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  2. thearne3

    thearne3 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 28, 2010
    Redding, CT USA
    Re sharpness: The reeds in the center foreground seem to be sharp. Long focal length doesn't mean deep depth of field - what was the aperture? I assume you were focusing on the near bird.

    Re 'brightening': well, not with a flash! :biggrin:

    Seriously, your choices are the same for any high contrast scene:
    1. + exp. compensation (which will blow the highlights)
    2. Bracket and use HDR processing.
    3. Do the best you can with PP.
  3. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter Subscribing Member

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    You're just hitting the dynamic range limit of the camera. Is this a raw or jpeg originally? You can probably pull a bit more out of the shadows without blowing out the highlights further using LR or camera raw. You also might want to try actually picking the AF point on the duck (or whatever) next time.
  4. LovinTheEP2

    LovinTheEP2 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 15, 2011
    Personally i think it's a nice photo.

    Agree with the above, just a missed focus point (reeds vs. bird). Even then though, not sure how much more it would have changed though as the reeds are pretty dark as well. Unless you could have zoomed in a bit more and made the bird a larger part of the scene not sure if there was much you could do to bring out the bird anymore then you did.
  5. ssgreenley

    ssgreenley Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 12, 2011
    Thanks so much for the feedback! Maybe pp is the only option. This is a jpeg; since my computer broke I've been trying to practice getting it right in camera (my justification for continually buying new lenses rather than a new computer!). I've heard metallic reflectors can be of some help in these situations--does anyone have any experience with these?
  6. LovinTheEP2

    LovinTheEP2 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 15, 2011
    Thats a far distance (600mm equivalent) with a small bird in flight ... if you had anymore range to get the bird larger in the frame maybe..

    I had a quick look at the bird in the low res jpeg and there isn't much there to pull out. Then again, I'm not very good at PP so maybe others can pull out some significant detail.
  7. anidel

    anidel Mu-43 Regular

    May 13, 2011
    Twickenham, Uk
    I think there's nothing technically wrong in the picture. The bird has light coming from behind, so you've got its silhouette.
    To get details of the bird you should put yourself with the light on your back. But I guess you know that already!

    In this case, if you wanted to get details of the bird, a nice zoom lens would have been needed to fill the frame with the bird by itself (or at least a good piece of it).
  8. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    You are beyond the dynamic range of your camera sensor to expose for details in both the black duck and the highly reflective water plants. You would have the same problem if you were using an UWA lens (it is not a lens problem but an exposure problem).

    Had you exposed for the duck, then the rest of the scene, which is brighter than the duck, would have been blown out and w/out details. Had you exposed for the water plants, (which looks as if that is what you did), then the darker elements will become dark shadows again w/out details.

    You need to learn exposure, especially manual exposure and what your various exposure possibilities available and the subsequence ramifications of said exposure possibilities. You need to understand how the light meter works, (the meter is merely a guide not a law).

    In any case, (as in this one), the only way to defeat blown highlights or shadows w/out details, an image which is beyond the dynamic range of your sensor is to:

    1) Shoot multiple and various exposures to be post processed into a single HDR image; or
    2) Use artificial lighting (flash and/or reflectors) to bring up the shadow areas into the sensors dynamic range.

    There is a third option, choose a compromise exposure somewhere between exposing for the bird and exposing for the water plants and hope to manage/manipulate the image, via post processing, into a nice, award winning photograph. But typically with a compromise solution one gets a compromised result.


    PS- There are flash attachments designed specifically for nature photogs. "Better Beamer" is one brand. These are quite large and focus the light for longer telephoto lenses. They work quite well.

    An image shot at 800mm (in 35mm) with a fill-in flash.
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    The flash filled in the shadows and even give me some nice catch lights in the eyes. This was a standard flash without a Better Beamer attachment.
  9. phigmov

    phigmov Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Apr 4, 2010
    Rather than the technical side of the image itself I thought the composition lacked a point of focus - other than being a nice image I wasn't really sure what my eye was meant to be drawn towards (I find myself doing this alot when I retrospectively critique my own images).
  10. scotth

    scotth Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 3, 2011
    Shooting wildlife is tougher than it looks.

    I think the best bet is to look at where the light is coming from so that the bird is front lit. Unless you want a silouette you need the sun behind your back. Shooting early in the morning or later in the evening the light will be more even as well.

    Plus, it helps to get closer. The bird looks pretty small in the frame, and there is a lot of other stuff. Even with a long lens you need to pretty close, which is not usually easy.

    I am not sure that us a duck. Was the bird flying when you took the shot? It almost looks like an anhinga drying its wings, or maybe a cormorant.
  11. hkpzee

    hkpzee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 5, 2011
    Hong Kong
    You can probably narrow your camera's metering to center-weighted, and center focus on the duck, then recompose your frame (provided the duck hasn't flown away by then). The result will be a brighter duck, but the background will probably be overexposed...
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