BIF photography settings advice

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dimvou New Member • Posts: 10
BIF photography settings advice

I am trying to photograph some birds in flight and I am using my dslr in manual mode setting manually shutter speed and aperture and living iso in auto.

I set also metering mode to spot but the photographs most of the time tend to be underexposed for the bird and exposed for the sky. I am able to recover the shadows afterwards but I lose most of the details of the bird. Is there a way to have consistent results of the photos exposure in camera ?

Thanks.

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AnthonyL Senior Member • Posts: 2,912
Re: BIF photography settings advice
1

You are not going to be near enough to fill the spot meter with the bird so the auto iso will always end up exposing for the sky.  Manually set everything, expose for grass away from the sun or some area that is similarly lit to the underside of the bird and try again - noting that you'll probably need a high shutter speed, be wide open and have a relatively high iso.

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jvc1 Senior Member • Posts: 1,311
Re: BIF photography settings advice
1

I shoot BIF in shutter priority, starting at 1250/sec and adjust as needed. ISO in auto but keep an eye on it to avoid it getting too high. Center weighted average metering. 9 center AF points. High speed shooting. Works pretty well in good light.

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p0ppyman
p0ppyman Contributing Member • Posts: 608
Re: BIF photography settings advice

dimvou wrote:

I am trying to photograph some birds in flight and I am using my dslr in manual mode setting manually shutter speed and aperture and living iso in auto.

I set also metering mode to spot but the photographs most of the time tend to be underexposed for the bird and exposed for the sky. I am able to recover the shadows afterwards but I lose most of the details of the bird. Is there a way to have consistent results of the photos exposure in camera ?

Thanks.

I've only shot BIF twice so my knowledge is limited. When I did I used shutter priority as a starting point. I rented the Tamron 150-600mm for the weekend and I had a blast.

I used multi-segment metering for the two images below.

It taught me what "reach" really meant.

It increased my appreciation for those who focus on BIF and do it very well.

Everyone's photography journey is different which is understandable.

While I prefer portrait photography because of my passion for people and all the great and amazing things they do, I'm making sure I try out the other genres of photography.

As my wife and I start traveling more in our RV to fly fishing destinations I see the Tamron 150-600mm lens being in my camera bag. I just need to convince her since she is the CFO!

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canuck dave
canuck dave Senior Member • Posts: 2,951
Re: BIF photography settings advice
1

jvc1 wrote:

I shoot BIF in shutter priority, starting at 1250/sec and adjust as needed. ISO in auto but keep an eye on it to avoid it getting too high. Center weighted average metering. 9 center AF points. High speed shooting. Works pretty well in good light.

I also shoot BIF in shutter priority, and usually around 1/1250 sec. I dial in exposure compensation as needed, and that can range from none to 2 stops at times.

OP dimvou New Member • Posts: 10
Re: BIF photography settings advice

I shoot auto iso also but the dslr exposes for the sky and i am not able to recover shadow details from the birds

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jvc1 Senior Member • Posts: 1,311
Re: BIF photography settings advice

Once you're out there shooting and find the bird too dark, make adjustments to SS, ISO or aperture or as Canuck Dave said, use EC to adjust. Using EC might be the easiest thing to do. Once you have the adjustments made you can shoot away as long as the lighting doesn't change drastically.

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ToxicTabasco
ToxicTabasco Senior Member • Posts: 2,055
Re: BIF photography settings advice

canuck dave wrote:

jvc1 wrote:

I shoot BIF in shutter priority, starting at 1250/sec and adjust as needed. ISO in auto but keep an eye on it to avoid it getting too high. Center weighted average metering. 9 center AF points. High speed shooting. Works pretty well in good light.

I also shoot BIF in shutter priority, and usually around 1/1250 sec. I dial in exposure compensation as needed, and that can range from none to 2 stops at times.

That's the settings I use also.  Plus Auto ISO limited to 1600.

For focus, manual foucs + single area using Back Button AF/AE.  With AFC and small area custom on the AF switch.   I use focus peaking to know where the focus is while bursting with stabilization on.

For burst mode, usually on High 12 fps using the manual focus+ AF.  Rarely every burst for more than 2 sec.  Thus, no problems with buffer clearing.  For AFC burst is at 7fps on High, and I may burst for 3 seconds but rarely.

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WryCuda Veteran Member • Posts: 8,869
Re: BIF photography settings advice

dimvou wrote:

I shoot auto iso also but the dslr exposes for the sky and i am not able to recover shadow details from the birds.

Have you tried SS priority with Exposure Compensation?

I'd guess hat you'd need 2 stops for an overhead BIF, less if the sun is behind you. On most cameras, you can also bracket EC.

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Windeguy Regular Member • Posts: 286
Re: BIF photography settings advice

dimvou wrote:

I shoot auto iso also but the dslr exposes for the sky and i am not able to recover shadow details from the birds

Keep the sun at your back and dial in from +1 to +2 exposure compensation.   If you are shooting birds with a lot of white you can get by with less or no exposure compensation.

R2D2 Forum Pro • Posts: 19,068
Re: BIF photography settings advice

dimvou wrote:

I am trying to photograph some birds in flight and I am using my dslr in manual mode setting manually shutter speed and aperture and living iso in auto.

I set also metering mode to spot but the photographs most of the time tend to be underexposed for the bird and exposed for the sky. I am able to recover the shadows afterwards but I lose most of the details of the bird. Is there a way to have consistent results of the photos exposure in camera ?

Shoot in  Full  manual mode for consistent exposures...

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R2

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Windeguy Regular Member • Posts: 286
Re: BIF photography settings advice

R2D2 wrote:

dimvou wrote:

I am trying to photograph some birds in flight and I am using my dslr in manual mode setting manually shutter speed and aperture and living iso in auto.

I set also metering mode to spot but the photographs most of the time tend to be underexposed for the bird and exposed for the sky. I am able to recover the shadows afterwards but I lose most of the details of the bird. Is there a way to have consistent results of the photos exposure in camera ?

Shoot in Full manual mode for consistent exposures...

https://pbase.com/jekyll_and_hyde/loaded_with_talon

R2

Nice photos!!

zackiedawg
zackiedawg Forum Pro • Posts: 31,246
Re: BIF photography settings advice
1

dimvou wrote:

I shoot auto iso also but the dslr exposes for the sky and i am not able to recover shadow details from the birds

Your biggest issue there is going to be trying to use spot metering...unless you're shooting large slow birds nearly filling the frame, getting the spot right on the correct part of the bird to meter while panning - meaning you need to KEEP the spot point right on that part of the bird at all times...is almost impossible.  And since birds can have multiple colors and often dark and light feathers, just allowing the spot meter point to stray from a black body to a white head on a bird in flight will drastically change the metering.

Try using a center-weighted metering if your camera has that option, or wide/multi point metering...then dial in an EV adjustment of +.3 to +1, sufficient to counter the camera's desire to meter the sky/background.

As for settings, like most others, I usually shoot BIF in S priority, with a default of 1/1000 adjusted as needed, center-weight metering, with EV adjustment based on conditions, Auto ISO with a range of 100 to 6400, and 8fps burst.  I really only have to concentrate on two settings on the fly: shutter speed and EV, and then panning to keep the bird in the frame.

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Lenshoodie
Lenshoodie Contributing Member • Posts: 607
Re: BIF photography settings advice
1

R2D2 wrote:

dimvou wrote:

I am trying to photograph some birds in flight and I am using my dslr in manual mode setting manually shutter speed and aperture and living iso in auto.

I set also metering mode to spot but the photographs most of the time tend to be underexposed for the bird and exposed for the sky. I am able to recover the shadows afterwards but I lose most of the details of the bird. Is there a way to have consistent results of the photos exposure in camera ?

Shoot in Full manual mode for consistent exposures...

https://pbase.com/jekyll_and_hyde/loaded_with_talon

R2

I'm with R2 on this one.  I use full manual all the time for BIF.  Metering off grass, I set the EV at minus 1/3rd of a stop cos it's darker than mid-grey.  Unless the light is changing, that EV should give good exposures.

In auto mode the dark background here would have caused the bird to be over-exposed.  It all happens too quickly to add Exposure Compensation, so as long as the light on the bird remains the same, you can stay in Manual.

S-E Owl

Backlighting is best against darker backgrounds.  Against a bright sky the correct exposure for the bird gives a burned out background.

Marsh Harrier

I adjust the shutter speed if required as the aperture is normally fully open.

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R2D2 Forum Pro • Posts: 19,068
Re: BIF photography settings advice

Windeguy wrote:

R2D2 wrote:

dimvou wrote:

I am trying to photograph some birds in flight and I am using my dslr in manual mode setting manually shutter speed and aperture and living iso in auto.

I set also metering mode to spot but the photographs most of the time tend to be underexposed for the bird and exposed for the sky. I am able to recover the shadows afterwards but I lose most of the details of the bird. Is there a way to have consistent results of the photos exposure in camera ?

Shoot in Full manual mode for consistent exposures...

https://pbase.com/jekyll_and_hyde/loaded_with_talon

R2

Nice photos!!

Hey thanks.  BIFs are very challenging, and rewarding!

I try to shoot in good light as much as possible.

R2

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R2D2 Forum Pro • Posts: 19,068
Re: BIF photography settings advice
1

Lenshoodie wrote:

R2D2 wrote:

dimvou wrote:

I am trying to photograph some birds in flight and I am using my dslr in manual mode setting manually shutter speed and aperture and living iso in auto.

I set also metering mode to spot but the photographs most of the time tend to be underexposed for the bird and exposed for the sky. I am able to recover the shadows afterwards but I lose most of the details of the bird. Is there a way to have consistent results of the photos exposure in camera ?

Shoot in Full manual mode for consistent exposures...

https://pbase.com/jekyll_and_hyde/loaded_with_talon

R2

I'm with R2 on this one. I use full manual all the time for BIF. Metering off grass, I set the EV at minus 1/3rd of a stop cos it's darker than mid-grey. Unless the light is changing, that EV should give good exposures.

In auto mode the dark background here would have caused the bird to be over-exposed. It all happens too quickly to add Exposure Compensation, so as long as the light on the bird remains the same, you can stay in Manual.

S-E Owl

Backlighting is best against darker backgrounds. Against a bright sky the correct exposure for the bird gives a burned out background.

Marsh Harrier

I adjust the shutter speed if required as the aperture is normally fully open.

Really nice Short-Eared Owl. And +1 to your advice!

Good light increases the odds tremendously!

The threee BIFs that I shoot the most are Bald Eagles, Ospreys, and Snowies. All of which require perfect exposure. Like you say, manual mode locks in those exposures no matter how light or dark the background. One needs only watch for changes in the light intensity, or angle (sunlit or shaded).

Happy shooting all!

R2

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