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Friday, January 20, 2012

Learning DSLR photography

So, I recently acquired a Canon 60D, a 300mm f/4 IS Canon lens, and 1.4 converter. However, I had basically no idea how to use it when I got it. Goal was to learn as quickly as possible, and to get to a point where I have a really nice backlog of copyright free materials at my disposal, and perhaps to start scoring some nice flight shots of birds unlike anything I could do with digiscoping gear.

I am still quite terrible, but I have made enough mistakes that I am beginning to get it, I think. When I was shooting the Purple Sandpiper in a previous post, I was forced to use f5.6 (the largest aperture possible with the 1.4 converter) because of the low light conditions. Little dd I realize that a bird at the close extreme of my focal distance, that the face and wing would not ever be in focus together. Will try not to make that mistake again next time! Perhaps I should have removed the converter and attempted a smaller aperture to allow a greater depth of field and still accomodate a good shutter speed at such low light?

Here are a few shots I have taken recently which are getting slightly better, though I still find myself unhappy with essentially every shot that comes off my memory card. This is going to be a long process!

White-breasted Nuthatch, one of my favorites I've taken yet:
Rare wintering White-throated Sparrow at Richmond Park in Grand Rapids
Black-capped Chickadee (VERY tough to photograph!)
Red-tailed Hawk
I find photography extremely difficult. Perhaps I am not alone?

8 comments:

Zachary DeBruine said...

Man, those photos are awesome! Where's your photostream?

Silly Putty said...

Thanks Zachary. I post some stuff here http://www.flickr.com/photos/27846187@N07/6738372585/
but don't have an official photostream where I put all my stuff...

Sean Fitzgerald said...

Getting there SIPU

Chuck said...

Hey Caleb

You can also increase the film speed. 1000 works Ok in low light and you don't lose too much detail.

Chuck

Chuck said...

Hey Caleb

You can also increase the film speed. 1000 works Ok in low light and you don't lose too much detail.

Chuck

Nathan DeBruine said...

Sounds like you have everything straight! Yes, I think I would take off the teleconverter in a situation like that, and if I'm correct you do need to use a smaller aperture (higher f-number) if you want a greater DOF, which would require a slower shutter speed. Your shots look nice to me...just keep practicing (photography should be fun)!

Silly Putty said...

Chuck- yes, I increased ISO to 3200 which the 60D handles pretty well. And yes Nathan, as was also caught by 1 other reader, I meant smaller aperture! (fixed that)

Meredith said...

Great pics Caleb! Consider positioning your subject somewhere other than in the center of the frame to give the photos more of a feel or emotion about what the bird is doing. The rule of thirds is useful, but sometimes the coolest shots don't follow the rules, try different compositions until it feels interesting! I have a shot of a Cassowary that is one of my favorites, and the bird is mostly in the left half of the photo, giving the impression of it slowly sneaking through the rainforest... Keep it up, I need a converter!