Shooting through chain link fences

Started Sep 7, 2011 | Discussions
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Setter Dog Veteran Member • Posts: 4,657
Shooting through chain link fences

Hi folks,

I went to the local zoo today with my a55 and Sigma 18-250. It's a small zoo but they have plenty of things to take shots of.

Frankly, my results were mixed. I tried everything I could to shoot "through" the fences, using mostly manual focus. I did okay when I could get very close to the fences. However, the bears and others had another low fence about 6' away from the main enclosure fence. In other words, when I couldn't get close to the fence, I didn't have much luck.

The day was not a total loss. I used manual focus for the first time ever and found it very useful. I enjoyed using the camera.

The question, though,....is there a technique for shooting through these fences with some consistency?

Thanks,...Jack

zackiedawg
zackiedawg Forum Pro • Posts: 26,021
Re: Shooting through chain link fences

It sounds like you were on target as far as the technique you were using - but just ran into the limitations of the zoo you were at.

The very basics are to get as close as possible to the fence, use as much zoom as possible, and use a larger aperture to shallow the depth of field more.

But if you find yourself too far from the fence with not enough focal length, it's probably going to interfere a bit. More focal length, closer to the fence, bigger aperture are the methods, up to the physical limitations of the zoo!

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Setter Dog OP Veteran Member • Posts: 4,657
Re: Shooting through chain link fences

zackiedawg wrote:

It sounds like you were on target as far as the technique you were using - but just ran into the limitations of the zoo you were at.

The very basics are to get as close as possible to the fence, use as much zoom as possible, and use a larger aperture to shallow the depth of field more.

Thanks Zackie,.....I'm glad I was on the right track.The best part of the day was learning that these old eyes can still manually focus effectively. Thanks for your response.
Jack

Karl Scharf
Karl Scharf Veteran Member • Posts: 3,407
Re: Shooting through chain link fences

Another thing to consider is selecting the center focus spot in the auto focus mode. This has worked well for me using the same Sigma lens on my Sony A700.

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chasgood Regular Member • Posts: 285
Re: Shooting through chain link fences

When is someone going to invent the Star Trek force-field and do away with those unsightly fences. lol
Getting right up to within an inch or two worked best for me.

Setter Dog OP Veteran Member • Posts: 4,657
Re: Shooting through chain link fences

I like the "Force Field" idea,...in the meantime, maybe the a77 has a "chain length eliminator" feature?

FJG3
FJG3 Senior Member • Posts: 1,014
Re: Shooting through chain link fences

Jack.. Just stick your hands through the fencing and have the camera lowered over the fence to you. Worked great for me...
Stubby..

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Edward Sargent
Edward Sargent Veteran Member • Posts: 4,636
Re: Shooting through chain link fences

Funny!

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JusLookN Veteran Member • Posts: 4,207
Re: Shooting through chain link fences

I don't remember what the exact length is, but like Justin said; with the right zoom and manually focusing you can make the fence actually disappear. It is still there, but it really doesn't show up in the shot. The distance may be your limiting factor.
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zackiedawg
zackiedawg Forum Pro • Posts: 26,021
Re: Shooting through chain link fences

There's not really a set distance - but in general, the closer to the fence you can get, the less zoom you need to get rid of it - but you generally still need at least in the vicinity of 200mm or so.

Here's a 250mm max zoom with the 18-250mm taken through a chicken-wire type fence - I was within a foot of the fence and the tiger was a good 25 feet, so that was enough to basically eliminate the fence - the only discernable result is the somewhat odd boken the wire fence caused:

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Setter Dog OP Veteran Member • Posts: 4,657
Re: Shooting through chain link fences

zackiedawg wrote:

There's not really a set distance - but in general, the closer to the fence you can get, the less zoom you need to get rid of it - but you generally still need at least in the vicinity of 200mm or so.

That's exactly what I discovered. Most of my keepers were when I was close to the fence and using near 250mm zoom. I found that when I was close to the fence, AF worked fine. When I was a little farther from the fence, I had to manually focus to stop the hunting. It was fun trying to get a few good shots.

Your shot of the tiger is amazing!
Jack

The_Wicker_Man
The_Wicker_Man Senior Member • Posts: 1,521
if you can't lose the fence

use it

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chadmarek Contributing Member • Posts: 919
Re: Shooting through chain link fences

Setter Dog wrote:

Hi folks,

I went to the local zoo today with my a55 and Sigma 18-250. It's a small zoo but they have plenty of things to take shots of.

Frankly, my results were mixed. I tried everything I could to shoot "through" the fences, using mostly manual focus. I did okay when I could get very close to the fences. However, the bears and others had another low fence about 6' away from the main enclosure fence. In other words, when I couldn't get close to the fence, I didn't have much luck.

How do you mean? Was it that the fence AND your subject were in focus? There are a couple things you can try if that is the case. You can make sure that the lens apeture is open as large as possible to reduce the depth of field. Second, you can try focusing a TOUCH past your subject, keeping your subject in focus, but favoring the depth of field towards that back of the subject and away from the fence.

I try to weasel my way to the other side of fences at sporting events. However, probably not the best idea with bears.

Darrell52 Senior Member • Posts: 1,344
Re: Shooting through chain link fences

Setter Dog wrote:

The question, though,....is there a technique for shooting through these fences with some consistency?

Thanks,...Jack

I was been faced with the same problem some years ago. I tried everything I could think of, including the suggestions made here. In in the end I just waited until I was released from prison.

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goetz48 Senior Member • Posts: 2,607
The same problem with art & architecture

Today many artwork on the outside of buildings is protected by fences from birds like doves. Often impossible to get the fences unsharp.

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05_GD7 Senior Member • Posts: 1,414
Re: The same problem with art & architecture

Two techniques:

1) As mentioned above, max zoom, close to the fence, larger apertures

2) Or work the fence into the composition of your shot

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grebedweeb Forum Member • Posts: 66
Shooting through fences best with a telephoto

This was shot through fine cage wire with a wide aperture on a 300mm f/4 Minolta with a Tamron 1.4x TC. The camera was pressed tight to the mesh of the cage. You can see evidence of diffraction in the catch-light on the eye, somewhat reminescent of star images shot through a telescope with a secondary mirror suspended by a 3 or 4-vane spider. Contrast was reduced in the original, but can be brought back somewhat in PS, which is what I did here.

Stv Veteran Member • Posts: 3,528
Re: Shooting through chain link fences; Don't Do It !

Zoo shooting is a game of patience, multiple visits, lengthy wait times and clean sight-lines, some very difficult issues to overcome. IMHO, no matter what technique you use, fence through-shots are seldom satisfying and I prefer NOT to even attempt them. Move on, go shoot something else with better sightliness, it's less frustrating and more rewarding.

http://stv.smugmug.com/Zoos/Toronto-Zoo-1/3297976_bbFBzt

PS: Zoo programs often have open public events were they display some exotic birds, lizards, snakes etc. in open forums where you may get very close to some critters to shoot. Also, learn when the FEEDING times are for popular animals. Check your zoo "program events" beforehand next time.

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goetz48 Senior Member • Posts: 2,607
Re: Shooting through fences best with a telephoto

Is no problem: i had only to take a 5m high ladder with me ...
And how shall I shoot a 2m wide artwork with a fence 20cm apart?

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NewsyL
NewsyL Veteran Member • Posts: 5,680
Re: Shooting through chain link fences

zackiedawg wrote:

the only discernable result is the somewhat odd boken the wire fence caused

I saw the same.... don't know if you can see it here but on my home PC I can discern the X pattern of the chain link fence in the bokeh on the background wall. The X is roughly the size of the head of the Condor.

I took this at the San Diego Zoo while riding the tour bus. There was a fence about 2/3's of the way between us, being closer to the bird.

largest, about 350Kb... http://photos.smugmug.com/1467888280_PtjbbkL-O-LB.jpg

A700 + Sigma 50-500
Focal Length: 500.0mm
Aperture: f/6.3
Exposure Time: 0.0040 s (1/250)
ISO equiv: 400

PS... love that Steady Shot. Not well braced, engine vibrating the back end of the bus where we were seated, and 500mm.

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