Tag Archives: birds

Birding with the Nikon System

Online Class February 7th with Jason P. Odell

Live webinar 7-9pm Eastern Time, Thursday, February 7th, 2019

hummingbird

Join professional photographer Jason P. Odell live online for tips and tricks for better bird photography using the Nikon digital system.

Topics include

  • Exposure & White Balance Settings for bird photography
  • Autofocus modes and settings for bird photography with Nikon DSLRs
  • Getting accurate focus in the field with Nikon DSLRs
  • Custom settings for Nikon DSLRs
  • How to photograph birds in flight
  • Gear recommendations

Your registration includes live webinar access (you can ask me quesstions) and a video replay download for future viewing.

Please note that registration will close one hour prior to the class start time. Login information will be sent to the email you used to register; please ensure that your email address is correct when registering.

Behind the Shot: Western Gull

How my gear made a difference

Western gull by Jason P. Odell
Western gull, La Jolla, CA

Here’s a pretty standard shot of a Western Gull, which I captured a few weeks ago while leading my San Diego Birding photo safari. Gulls are relatively easy targets for practicing your bird shots, and while this shot isn’t remarkable by any means, my choice of gear still made a difference.

First, I was using the Nikon D850 DSLR. The outstanding dynamic range of this camera allowed me to capture the entire gamut of shadows and highlight details in a single exposure. Should I decide to print this image, I could go as large as 24×34 without any resampling.

Second, I used the versatile Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 VR zoom lens. For a “consumer” lens, it’s really hard to beat. But why this lens was perfect for this shot was because it was not only light enough to hand-hold, but also that it’s minimum focus distance of 7.2′ (2.19m) allowed me to get really close to my subject and create a really smooth out of focus background.

For my last two birding safaris, I’ve eschewed my heavy tripods for the flexibility of a monopod with tilt-head and shoulder-stock. The monopod is lightweight and mobile, but when combined with my Arca-Swiss shoulder stock, I get a very stable configuration in the field, with my legs replacing a tripod. This isn’t easy to do with a monopod alone; the shoulder-stock creates a solid contact point between my camera and my body.

Finally, because processing the final image is just as important to me as the capture itself, I used Adobe Lightroom Classic CC to fine-tune the exposure, tone, and detail in the RAW image. I leveraged Adobe’s Nikon Camera Neutral profile to open the shadows and protect highlights while giving me maximum control over global and local tone and color.

Shooting Specs

 

 

My Go-To Focus Setting For Birds In Flight

Better BIFs Starts With Better Focus

Nikon Group Area AF
Good flight shots start with fast focus acquisition.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve struggled with photographing birds in flight for years. The number one problem I and others have is focus acquisition. With birds in flight (BIFs), the ideal situation is to lock focus early while the animal is still at distance, track the approaching bird, and then capture a rapid burst of shots when the bird begins to fill the frame.

For me, my struggles have always been two-fold. First, when birds are very far away, it’s often hard for the camera to discern the difference between the subject and the background. Often times the camera will focus on the background instead of the bird. When this happens, you need to quickly re-cycle the focus system (pump the focus). The other challenge is when the bird drops below a background object such as trees or a mountain ridge. Again, the focus system can quickly lose track of the subject unless it’s fairly large in the frame. Continue reading My Go-To Focus Setting For Birds In Flight