Thursday, July 19, 2018

More new camera practice

I've spent a dozen years shooting with a camera body that left me with little choice as to ISO and aperture settings. I now have a camera that has the ability to allow me to choose more artistic expression. I can choose shallow or inclusive depth-of-field. I can choose to blur motion or stop the wings of hummingbirds. I can choose to shoot into the sun or even after sunset.

But first, I have to get used to faster focus and burst-shooting at 10 frames per second. My previous camera could shoot 3-4 frames per second of RAW, but the buffer filled with 8 shots, and took 20 seconds to recover. I can now shoot RAW at 10 frames per second for at least 5 seconds without the buffer filling, and it recovers fully within 1 second of releasing the shutter--basically, I can never fill the buffer!

I glimpsed the chipmunk and ready, fire, aim! The first shot of the burst may not have been aimed, but subsequent frames refocused with AI-Servo.

Merriam's Chipmunk
Merriam's Chipmunk. Mt. Palomar, California. June 17, 2018. 1/1250, f/6.3 @ 400mm, ISO 1200.
Because I have 1600 RAW shots available to me on my memory card now, rather than 200 as before, I am able to take many more "spray and pray" shots. I don't have to worry about running out of room on my memory card. I can take short bursts as a subject moves through the brush. Some even turn out as decent "documentation" photos!

Steller's Jay
Steller's Jay. Mt. Palomar, California. June 17, 2018. 1/2000, f/6.3 @400mm, ISO 1600.
As a default, I keep my camera settings to be prepared for quickly shooting active birds. Thus 1/1250th of a second and f/7.1 in Manual mode with Auto ISO. Spot focus and Evaluative metering. On the above jay photo I shot 1/2000 which gave ISO 1600. I could have halved the shutter speed to 1/1000 and AUTO ISO would have automatically halved the ISO to 800. Better image quality (less grainy) could have been had at ISO 400, so I could have gone to 1/500th of a second hand-held without motion blur--especially as my lens is Image Stabilized. But even blowing the image up full-sized I don't see much grain (colored spots) in the shadows.

I will take several shots at this "bird default" setting. Then, if a subject sticks around longer, I can adjust the camera settings. That might be a faster shutter speed for flight shots or twitchy birds. It might be a slower shutter speed for a still subject in order to get a better-quality result. If I'm shooting a backlit bird (not ideal) I can increase the exposure compensation or change to spot metering. I just have to remember to change the settings back, because autofocus mode and metering mode and exposure compensation do not change back on their own--not even after turning the camera off and back on. So, I must remember to check the exposure histogram regularly, and "expose to the right."

Jacaranda tree. Oceanside, California. June 17, 2018. 1/1250, f/7.1 @ 220mm, ISO 500.
Reducing the magnification from 400mm down to 220mm allowed in more light. The ISO dropped to 500. Again, I could easily have halved the shutter speed and had even better image quality.

I can shoot as close as 1.7 meters with my lens. So some "near macro" shots are possible--like this honey bee on clover. I focused on the center of the clover. It looks like the hind leg of the bee is in focus but the head and eyes less so. I could have used a smaller aperture setting to get everything in focus--maybe f/14?

honey bee on clover
Honey bee on clover. Oceanside, California. June 17, 2018. 1/1250, f/7.1 @400mm, ISO 400.
And, yes, if you were paying close attention, I birded up in the mountains in the morning, and down on the coast in the afternoon. The goal was the actual beach. But it was so crowded we couldn't even find a parking space in early afternoon. So we chose a park a couple miles inland and saved $35+ by going home for dinner rather than eating out.

A couple of days later we headed over to a park near our home after work. I was still trying to see what worked and what didn't.

Feeding the baby--Black Phoebe
Feeding the baby--Black Phoebe. Escondido, California. June 20, 2018. 1/2000, f/7.1 @400mm, ISO 2000.
Female House Finch
Female House Finch. Escondido, California. June 20, 2018. 1/2000, f/7.1 @ 400mm, ISO 800.
Oh, look! The moon. Nearly straight up. {Snaps a photo without even looking at camera settings.} If I thought about it I might have chosen something like 1/500, f/11, ISO 600? But this turned out fine.

Moon. 1/2000, f/7.1 @400mm, ISO 800. Hand-held.

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