BIF shooters, please help

Started Mar 15, 2014 | Questions thread
OP dzba Senior Member • Posts: 1,364
Re: BIF shooters, please help

Good day, mate,

my youngest brother moved to Australia 8 years ago and visited us this past summer with his family.  One of his favorites is "no worries".  I enjoy both of these.

WilbaW wrote:

You've been given some very good direction, especially from AndyMulhearn. I'll just add a couple of things that haven't been mentioned.

I went back and re read his tips.  The response has been welcome and needed.

Exposing for the light is a great way to go with BIFs. I use M, usually wide open, which is fine with L lenses like the 400/5.6. I like to use longer shutters than most recommend, like 1/1250 and 1/1600, to get a little blur in the pinion feathers to suggest motion, but go for 1/2000 to begin with if you have enough light.

Yes, today I made it a point to try and keep SS up and most of the time I managed to keep it at or above 1/2000th.

Then set ISO so that the meter shows around +1 and 2/3 to +2 when pointed at the sky in the direction you'll be shooting. That will give you consistent image brightness, whatever the colour of the bird or background, and will protect your highlights, which are easy to blow with white subjects.

I can do this in Av mode, right, or is this in full Manual mode only ?  It would be too easy if I ;-)could guess which direction (and consequently where, and how bright the light will be)  the birds will appear from.  Sometimes you can see them coming from a long ways off, but usually the St. Vrain Photographic Society aka Longmont Colorado Camera Clubclosest opportunities are from birds that suddenly appear from behind trees or from the rear.  I try to keep my head on a swivel to reduce the surprises, yet some do sneak up on me.

These were shot like that -

Crested Tern, 400/5.6

Great Cormorant, 400/5.6 with 1.4 TC

Silver Gull, 400/5.6

Silver Gull, 70-300L

If you can keep a single AF point on the bird then sure, use the centre point, but you'll probably be better off in the typical single-bird-against-the-sky scenario to use all AF points. Just have the centre point on the bird when you trigger AF.

It can help a lot to first AF on something at a similar distance to where you think you will start tracking the bird. Then you can see the bird clearly and the AF has an easy job to lock on when you trigger it again.

Yes, after my 1st outing with this lens I learned this lesson.  Simple and effective, most of the time, until I encounter a sneaky one.   I get most upset when this happens as they appear the closest and suddenly.  It will take more practice for me to get a handle on this.

To begin with I wouldn't make things more complicated for yourself by using the back button if you're not used to it. That's icing on the cake, get your cake baked first (AF and exposure settings are the ingredients, and tracking technique is the baking...? ).

I like the baking analogy you used.  Makes perfect sense to me.  I agree, fine tune things after I get more comfortable with the basics.

Expect to shoot hundreds of frames for each keeper.

Yes, I'm learning and doing just that.  Another thing I've learned is that I have to wear a hat while attempting this.  It keeps me from pulling out what hair I have left on my head.  

Thanks again for taking the time to respond and offer your tips, Mike

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