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04-14-2013, 04:45 AM   #1
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When Coots go bad

Hi,

After some pointers on what I was doing wrong, was out in Hyde Park last weekend and Spring was obviously in the air (finally).

Took many photos of Coots fighting, on several of the photos the focus is just off and seems to be picking up the foreground.

I think there were two things I could have done to fix this.

Faster shutter - I don't think its this as the photos are out of focus rather than blurred.
Change the AF mode so that it is more concentrated in the middle of the lens. I think this is probably it but any advice on exactly how I should set it up. I know I could RTFM (I have btw) but I'm struggling to match the technical descriptions to real world applications.
Any other pointers?

Also the Coots bald patch appears gleamingly over exposed in all the photos, I can probably clean this up in PP but is there anything I could have done in camera to stop this from happening? Did I need to change the white balance?
Photo taken in AP mode with my Kr and Sigma 150-500.
First photo has the focus problem and second doesn't.

(Also just realised I've posted this in the wrong forum, apologies! Move to the critique one if that's where it goes)

Cheers,

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Last edited by superduper; 04-14-2013 at 05:19 AM.
04-14-2013, 06:40 AM   #2
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Just a bunch of old coots! I've never seen this behavior. Usually they just float around all day. Nice shots.
04-14-2013, 07:46 AM   #3
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White feathers over-expose very easily. Set at least -1EV exposure compensation. You can then bring darker tones up in pp.
04-14-2013, 08:02 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by superduper Quote
When Coots go bad
I suppose they have bad days too, where can't just get on, just like we do.

04-14-2013, 08:42 AM   #5
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Oh my! We have lots of coots (similar bird, different species) near here, but I have never seen them fighting! That is very dramatic!


Steve
04-14-2013, 10:08 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by superduper Quote
Change the AF mode so that it is more concentrated in the middle of the lens. I think this is probably it but any advice on exactly how I should set it up.
Were you using AF.C or AF.S? With AF.S I only use single center point focus to make sure the focus is where I want it, not the camera. There are other methods and at a distance it is not always easy but I find for me it is the most accurate. I've never used AF.C so no help there. Try examining the image closely to see where exactly the focus was. You will have a very narrow DOF with that lens. With all the water being tossed up by the coots it is quite possible the lens locked onto a water drop a foot in front of the bird. Or it could be the lens itself is front focusing, you will have to run some tests to check that.

QuoteOriginally posted by superduper Quote
Also the Coots bald patch appears gleamingly over exposed in all the photos, I can probably clean this up in PP but is there anything I could have done in camera to stop this from happening? Did I need to change the white balance?
No that has nothing to do with white balance. You are shooting a bird that has almost pure black and almost pure white areas. It is very difficult to get both areas properly exposed. Similar to shooting a bride in white with a groom in a black tux. The difference is more than the camera can capture in some lighting so you have to get the most you can and fix anything else in PP.
I prefer to let small white spots like that go overexposed and bring them back in PP. Others prefer to underexpose a bit and then pull up the dark areas in PP. Both methods work, pulling down the overexposed areas risks not having enough detail in those parts and underexposing and pulling up tends to add more noise to the darker areas. Use whichever works for you.
04-14-2013, 07:35 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by superduper Quote
,,,Change the AF mode so that it is more concentrated in the middle of the lens. I think this is probably it but any advice on exactly how I should set it up. I know I could RTFM (I have btw) but I'm struggling to match the technical descriptions to real world applications.
Just to show that I looked it up: Press INFO, use the arrow keys to move over to the middle icon for [Select AF Point], press OK and you get four choices of the active points. I like just using the center one but it's probably best to try the others at some point.

QuoteQuote:
Also the Coots bald patch appears gleamingly over exposed in all the photos, I can probably clean this up in PP but is there anything I could have done in camera to stop this from happening? Did I need to change the white balance?
The manual has a diagram of the 16 metering segments that your camera uses to measure light. These spots are probably too small for the meter to measure them accurately enough. There's a free software utility called PhotoMe that will show you this overlayed with your shot, with the light measurement for each segment in Ev. You can use that to see how the meter saw your scene. The camera's highlight warning will show you when white spots like these are completely overexposed.
04-21-2013, 02:52 PM   #8
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https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/post-your-photos/222521-nature-when-coots...ml#post2360269

Just thought I'd close this off by a link to a thread where I posted links to the photos on flickr after I'd finished pp.
(is there such a thing?? I have to get better at that it soaked up loads of time!!)

I ended up deciding that all the photos were over exposed (not sure why, would it just be the white head driving that). I processed the RAWs using the Pentax photo utility, adjusted the exposure down a notch and a half, set burn to 50 and upped the luminosity of the blues. Then just cropped in PSE8.

Anyway thanks for the pointers from everyone above, helped we figure out what to do to get the images looking better

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