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View Full Version : A question to birdwatchers


Loup Garou
22nd February 2016, 12:50 PM
I like watching birds through binoculars but know very little about serious bird photography. What I am asking is not for myself but a curiosity question about those who regularly take high quality bird close-up pictures. I am talking about those using 500mm or 600mm (35mm equivalent) lenses.

On average, how close to they have to get to the bird to produce the kind of pictures we see in magazines and such?

PeterBirder
22nd February 2016, 10:45 PM
No one has picked this one up so, although I don't produce "high quality close-up bird photographs" I'll try to give you an answer.

The field of view of a 600mm (35mm equivalent) lens is not significantly less than a typical pair of birdwatching binoculars (8 or 10 times magnification) so in simple terms you have to get as close as you would with binoculars. This means that to get a frame filling shot of a small bird like a Wren you need to get very close.

This means that fieldcraft and knowledge of bird behavior together with the use of portable hides etc. are as important (if not more important) than photographic knowledge/expertise, plus of course an enormous amount of patience.
I believe that the photographers (I'm thinking of people like Chris Packham) who produce the type of published images you are thinking of are primarily "birdwatchers/ornithologists/naturalists who take photographs" rather than "photographers who photograph birds" if you get the subtle distinction. Certainly they need to be "multi skilled".

I got back into photography as a result of my birdwatching but to be honest I have moved more into other types of photography, probably due to a lack of time and patience these days.

Hope this helps you.*chr

David M
22nd February 2016, 10:55 PM
There's no straightforward answer as there are so many variables. 6 feet for smaller species up to 60 feet for bigger species or group/flock shots. The requirements for satisfying editors are much different than posting shots online. Understanding bird behavior helps massively.

Wee man
22nd February 2016, 11:23 PM
As David says it varies from gardens or parks where birds are used to people you can get as close as six to ten feet. But from hides or stalking it can be 60 - 100 feet or more so shots are cropped. With a well placed hide and time and patience you can get frame filling shots but have to be willing to work for them. Tripods are almost a must.

Walti
23rd February 2016, 12:09 AM
The photos I posted in the birds thread were typically from 6'

bredman
23rd February 2016, 12:09 AM
I am talking about those using 500mm or 600mm (35mm equivalent) lenses.

As you'll know even in binoculars the bird is usually still very small. I think in old money 50mm was considered 1x mag, so 100mm was 2x etc.. A 500mm and 600mm would be around 10x and 12x which is good strength magnification for binoculars but still not high in the grand scheme of things. In open areas my scope never seems to be enough at 25-50x :). Bearing in mind there is never enough magnification i think the logical answer is -- with photography equipment you need to be much closer than you'd like. :) And be prepared to put the hours in.

Loup Garou
25th February 2016, 07:32 PM
Thanks all. The closest lens I have is the Panasonic G Vario 100-300mm but at f5.6 at the 300mm end it is rather too slow to produce a nice bokeh. We have a big garden and get plenty of robins, tits and others but I seem to have difficulty in creeping close without the bird flying away. I do not mind waiting for the right moment but cannot imagine any of the little critters coming within 6 feet of me. My wife thinks that my appearace - a cross between a sloth and a warthog accrding to her - might have something to do with it. :(

DavyG
25th February 2016, 07:51 PM
Thanks all. The closest lens I have is the Panasonic G Vario 100-300mm but at f5.6 at the 300mm end it is rather too slow to produce a nice bokeh. We have a big garden and get plenty of robins, tits and others but I seem to have difficulty in creeping close without the bird flying away. I do not mind waiting for the right moment but cannot imagine any of the little critters coming within 6 feet of me. My wife thinks that my appearace - a cross between a sloth and a warthog accrding to her - might have something to do with it. :(

Have you tried setting up your camera on a tripod, in the garden and controlling it via the OIS app?

Like you, I find it difficult to get close to birds in my garden when I go out with the camera, I've had better luck controlling the camera remotely.

Here's an example from last year:

http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/P1292842a.jpg (http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/80473)

Dave

Loup Garou
26th February 2016, 07:15 AM
Excellent picture DavyG. That is the kind of composition, sharpness and bokeh that I hope to get. What camera and lens did you use?

Imageryone
26th February 2016, 08:54 AM
As has been said before, patience and stillness are your best allies. Birds, in the wild, are continually hunted, so the slightest movement sets them off. If you are in the garden, note their favourite spots, then prefocus on that area to avoid lens noise.

DavyG
26th February 2016, 10:59 AM
Excellent picture DavyG. That is the kind of composition, sharpness and bokeh that I hope to get. What camera and lens did you use?

Thanks, this was taken with an E-M1, 40-150 f2.8 & MC-14.

Using the camera remotely is a good way to get shots in a garden however, as David mentions in the post above, patience and fieldcraft will result on good pics also.

Dave

David M
26th February 2016, 02:35 PM
Until I started copying some of my slides recently I'd forgotten just how much I used portable hides in the UK in the 80's and 90's.