How could I have made this a good photo?

Started 3 months ago | Discussions
Merlin5 Regular Member • Posts: 301
How could I have made this a good photo?

Hi guys. I'm posting this photo with no processing or cropping, just exactly how it came from the camera.

There's no point in sharpening it, it's blurry and I want to be able to nail the focus from source.

It's a terrible photo I took today of a helicopter and I'm at a loss as to what I should have done to get it really crisp, particularly when zooming in. I think this was in AI Servo. I'm pretty sure I was quite steady holding the camera. It was taken about 5.30pm but there was plenty of daylight. Although the photo is grainy and maybe my ISO should have been 200 or so.

I followed the helicopter as best I could and it wasn't moving too quickly. I was at 300mm handheld.  I pretty much kept the focal point on the helicopter, but should I have been using automatic selection focal point instead of manual selection? Would centre weighted metering have sharpened things instead of spot metering? Could it be that 300mm lens won't do any better? Or could it be that I'm just not good enough yet at keeping it steady or locked on to the helicopter? I really need to figure out why I keep taking such rubbish photos of anything in the sky.  Although my moon photos were not too bad. Thanks for any advice.

 Merlin5's gear list:Merlin5's gear list
Canon EOS 5D Mark II Sony a6600 Tamron SP 70-300mm F4-5.6 Di VC USD Canon EF 50mm F1.8 STM Sigma 16mm F1.4 DC DN (E/EF-M mounts) +1 more
cjf2 Senior Member • Posts: 1,069
Re: How could I have made this a good photo?
1

I’m only looking on a phone but it is too small in the frame for your camera to be expected to nail the focus plus it’s underexposed, poorly lit, facing away from the camera and the shutter speed is so high the rotor blades are so sharp the look as if they were stationary. It’s a grab shot with no planning so you cannot expect the camera to solve the shortcomings.
If you want a picture of a helicopter, go somewhere Like an airport or heliport where you can get close to helicopters flying at slow speeds or hovering, position yourself where the light falls on the helicopter and expose for that rather than for the sky. Use a shutter speed of, say 125th of a second to allow some blurring of the blades.

As with all pictures you need to decide what you want and plan to achieve that.

https://www.dpreview.com/galleries/8377344187/photos/4012273/vehicle-2019-merlin-b

Mark_A
Mark_A Forum Pro • Posts: 16,062
Re: How could I have made this a good photo?

Merlin5 wrote:

Hi guys. I'm posting this photo with no processing or cropping, just exactly how it came from the camera.

There's no point in sharpening it, it's blurry and I want to be able to nail the focus from source.

It's a terrible photo I took today of a helicopter and I'm at a loss as to what I should have done to get it really crisp, particularly when zooming in. I think this was in AI Servo. I'm pretty sure I was quite steady holding the camera. It was taken about 5.30pm but there was plenty of daylight. Although the photo is grainy and maybe my ISO should have been 200 or so.

I followed the helicopter as best I could and it wasn't moving too quickly. I was at 300mm handheld. I pretty much kept the focal point on the helicopter, but should I have been using automatic selection focal point instead of manual selection? Would centre weighted metering have sharpened things instead of spot metering? Could it be that 300mm lens won't do any better? Or could it be that I'm just not good enough yet at keeping it steady or locked on to the helicopter? I really need to figure out why I keep taking such rubbish photos of anything in the sky. Although my moon photos were not too bad. Thanks for any advice.

Hi Merlin5,

The helicopter is very small in the frame, you could crop into it quite a lot probably but the second issue is that the helicopter is in shadow, so there isn't much colour in it you are essentially seeing a silhouette.

Generally though, having your subject dead centre in the frame isn't always best, you could crop this such that the helicopter had space to fly into, I think that would improve it. But generally I think you should think of this as a learning shot.

It looks like a UK Air Ambulance, I hope whoever it was for was ok.

Mark_A

OP Merlin5 Regular Member • Posts: 301
Re: How could I have made this a good photo?

Thanks cjf2 and Mark A. Oh yeah, I definitely only posted it as a learning shot.

Very interesting advice, many thanks. That photo of yours cjf2 is awesome.
Yes, I froze the blades so I'll use a slower shutter speed as you suggest. My thinking by using 1/1000th was that I might stand a better chance of getting it in focus while it's moving. Definitely a spontaneous shot. I was cleaning my kitchen when I kept hearing the helicopter going back and forth so took my camera into the garden to see if I could get a cool photo. I failed!

I took other photos of the helicopter with brighter exposure but no better sharpness. But yes, I see what you mean by the lighting.

Mark A, I hadn't cropped or process anything and I would have cropped it to be more left of the frame. It's a police helicopter. They never got me but I was worried they might see me scoping at them!

 Merlin5's gear list:Merlin5's gear list
Canon EOS 5D Mark II Sony a6600 Tamron SP 70-300mm F4-5.6 Di VC USD Canon EF 50mm F1.8 STM Sigma 16mm F1.4 DC DN (E/EF-M mounts) +1 more
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