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This blog is intended to follow my progress this year in my pursuit of obtaining some worthwhile bird photographs.
Very much a beginner, with limited funds but almost unlimited time, I want to capture photographs that are more than mere record shots. I am not expecting many rare or even unusual species, but want to do justice to any bird that cares to pose for me.
Wish me luck and good light.
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Numbers going mad!

Posted Sunday 9th January 2011 at 16:34 by Denny Woodthorpe
The numbers of birds visiting the garden is continuing to rise. Considering the size of the garden (30m x 20m) and the fact that it is a bit hemmed in by a fence and a lyllandi hedge, I am very pleased with how many birds I am getting.
Yesterday I counted no fewer than 18 Blackbirds at the same time! I only need 6 more for a pie! Add that to 13 Jackdaws, 12 woodpigeons and about 30 Starlings, it is a wonder the smaller birds get a look in.

My photography method is working a treat, now I have sorted out some of the technical aspects. I like to use flash when the weather is dull, as photographing small birds close up needs a fast shutter speed AND sufficient depth of field. The main problem with using flash is lighting the background sufficiently so it doesn't come out black. I overcome that by placing an artificial background ( painted board) 2 metres behind the perch.
I then mount a flashgun 2 metres from the perch, to one side and above, so any shadows fall below the area of the photo.This flash is fired wirelessly by the built-in flash of the camera, which also lightens shadows on the bird caused by the angular lighting. A ratio of 2:1 or 4:1 in favour of the off-camera flash gives nice modelling.
Aperture is around f8 to give sufficient depth of field and I focus manually on the perch (or a "dummy" bird). Flash sync speed is "locked" at 250th of a second.
I suffered some over-exposure of the birds until I realised the problem. The flash uses evaluative exposure and was giving too much emphasis to the background, which occupies a large part of the picture.The background, being 2m behind the subject, took a lot of flash power to bring it to mid gray, thereby over-exposing the perch, which was only half the distance away. Two stops of negative flash exposure compensation took care of it! The background is a bit darker, but that is what I wanted anyway.
If the sun comes out. I simply push the on-camera flash back down and the camera reverts to Av mode (usually 500 - 1000th of a second).
No excuses now for some decent photos.
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