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PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2014 11:06 am 
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Ol' Bustard
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Cathy, 'depth of field' or 'depth of focus' has a constant underlying affect and that is that wherever the focus point actually is, there's one third forward and two thirds back in acceptable focus.

How this acts in practise is that (for example) if you have three birds in an image, each one behind the other, if you focus on the middle bird the back and front bird will be in acceptable focus. If you focus on the front bird the rear bird will not be in acceptable focus. So it matter where you're focussing (or on what you're focussing).

As far as gaining MORE depth of field, you need to set the lens to the minimum allowable setting (the highest f-stop number). If you're running out of power on the lights, up the ISO setting on the camera (go to the next highest full number). If you're setting (for example) 100 ISO now, then double it to 200 ISO and so on. That's equal to an f stop or a doubling or halving of the shutter speed.

The 160th of a second shutter speed is working and so you should set that as your default when shooting birds in a studio lighting situation. OK?

Lastly, if you're in quite close to the birds, you just won't get 40-50cm of depth of field due to restrictions in the optics. If you follow my suggestions above, you'll mazimise what IS available with your current setup.

Linz :)

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2014 11:21 am 
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Discerning Duck
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This is my photo box, it's 90cm W x 90 cm H x 75 cm D.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2014 11:24 am 
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Discerning Duck
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Rupert Stephenson in the UK has the best set up for photographing poultry.

This is Ruperts set up

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2014 11:25 am 
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Interesting thread. Something I like is that every photographers style is different, I am sure you will be able to give your photos a unique look Cathy with your new setup.

Linz, your info makes great reading, very informative. I tend to use soft boxes, but would like to learn more. you mentioned:

Quote:
For black or dark birds, expose for the power of the right light. For light birds, expose for the left light.


Is this because the left light is softer (with diffuser) so wont blow out the lighter coloured birds, but not sure why the right light is better for darker birds being reflective (harsher) light.

Whats your ISO Cathy? If your not already, I would shoot in RAW, or if your not as confident, both RAW and JPG. Its amazing how much enjoyable it is to edit RAW files in photo editing programs. Also don't forget to take a judging stick for your helper, its easier to edit out a stick than it is a hand :)


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2014 11:36 am 
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Nice setup Daniel, but I can't help but think that the birds in UK are a lot more used to being handled. I know from experience that about 25% of the birds I photograph would take to the air with this setup. Beautiful photo of the blue Rosecomb bantam, but I wonder if he has a different method for more active and flighty breeds like game fowl, Hamburg etc

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2014 12:08 pm 
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Ol' Bustard
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Andy Vardy wrote:

Is this because the left light is softer (with diffuser) so wont blow out the lighter coloured birds, but not sure why the right light is better for darker birds being reflective (harsher) light.

Whats your ISO Cathy? If your not already, I would shoot in RAW, or if your not as confident, both RAW and JPG. Its amazing how much enjoyable it is to edit RAW files in photo editing programs. Also don't forget to take a judging stick for your helper, its easier to edit out a stick than it is a hand :)



Andy, when you're photographing anything very dark or black, I find it better to open the lens a stop or increase the power of the main light to the same amount (about one f stop). This allows for getting more detail in the black object and opens the shadows as well.

In addition, we need to understand what we're seeing when we light a black or dark object. What we are really seeing is the reflection of the lights from the dark and shiny feathers. The bigger and softer the light, the larger and more diffuse is the reflection. The downside to this is loss of contrast and saturation. The upside is that the light isn't specular and isn't creating super dark shadows with little to no detail. It's all a trade off. ideally and with enough time and no pressure on the photographer, you'd change light shapers to get contrast and saturation on highly coloured birds (smaller and more specular light source) and use softer and broader for light birds (to minimise hot spots and areas which are burned out with little to no detail). That's not practical so in practise, you could move the main light in and out and alter the power settings to suit. By moving the main light back, the light becomes smaller in relation to the subject and therefore becomes more of a point light source rather than a large diffuse source. The light shaper doesn't change but its character changes as it's moved in and out from the different subjects. If it were on wheels and you had a light meter, it would take about 60 seconds to set up.

Cathy, Andy is right regarding RAW files. These are a dream to play with in post processing. It's always best to get the exposures right in capture but programs like Adobe Lightroom or Capture One V7 are a dream to use as you can play all sorts of games without visible loss of data on a 12-14bit file rather than an 8bit Jpeg.

I must say that in the British example shown in a post above, the lights appear to be the same type and size and the power output identical. This is known in my industry as a copy stand style light source (flat and uninteresting). A better and more 3 dimensional appearance would be achieved by setting ONE of the lights stronger than the other and always facing the bird into the more powerful light. Flat is safer but less attractive. We always face the problem of how to show a 3 dimensional subject in a 2 dimensional photograph (height and width) so creating the illusion of depth (3D) is the art of the trained photographer.

Linz :)

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[i]A lot of Andalusians. Anconas in Standard and Bantam PB Black Leghorns in Standard
and Bantam, Derbyshire Redcaps, Light Sussex Bantams.
[/i]
____ __ _______ _ _ _ ______ _ ________ _ _ _ _____


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2014 12:18 pm 
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Thanks for the info about these settings. It's really hard for me to get my head around them because when I ask people they usually say, 'it depends' or 'read the manual'. I will slowly get the hang of it.

ISO was set on 100. I will double it and see what happens with everything else the same.

I am taking them in both formats. I have only really played with the raw files when the photo has been important as it seems to take time and I'm always in a hurry. I was using Capture NX2 until recently, but have just got a copy of Lightroom 5.5. I think that looks more straight forward. I am using a Nikon so raw for me is NEF.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2014 12:36 pm 
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ISO 200; Shutterspeed 200 (should have 160 but I think I must have bumped it); F11

Very cooperative models here. Too much light?

Image

Image

Image

I took a couple more at 160 in case that made a difference. What do you think? Still too much light? Also including a shot showing how I have tried putting a piece of white corflute over the top to see what would happen. That could help with flightier birds a bit. Not sure how a sebright would go in this.

Image

Image

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2014 12:48 pm 
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Great info again Linz. I must say it is no easy task to photograph poultry, the birds don't do what I tell them! so it can be hard to get them to face the right direction which is why I have my lights even on both sides. I might try a little back/top lighting next time and see if it gives more 3D look.

On second look Daniels wooden box has a top, so would probably work better for the active birds wanting to take to the air, how have you found it Daniel, do you have some sample pics?. Might be harder to get the light in, but looks user friendly to operate. Its all about compromise, even with the perfect lighting if the bird isn't at the right angle or well posed, it wont be flattering.

If you want the best photos you can't beat spending a day outside with natural lighting with the birds outside on freshly cut lawn enjoying the sunshine :)

The more modern cameras with large sensors can cope well with higher ISO, I wouldn't go higher than ISO 400 and F11 with digital cameras in a studio though, its good that your experimenting, soon you will be bringing live birds into your house to try :)

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2014 1:08 pm 
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Very excited here to be picking up a trio of beautiful Minorca bantams this afternoon. If they aren't too feral, I may try and take a snap of them. It could be a good test and they can't go far inside the house.

No doubt glaringly obvious to real photographers, but just noticing that angle of shot makes a big difference also. Just lifting the tripod a couple of inches gives a better shot here. Is there a golden rule for positioning the camera for these sorts of shots?

image
image

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2014 1:22 pm 
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The camera height depends on the breed and what features your trying to accentuate. For example, a pekin bantam you take from above to show off the spherical shape of the bird. For most breeds though I find having the camera the height lining up with the middle of the bird works well for yout classic side on outline photos. Minorcas are excellent breed to try out on, one of the hardest as they move quickly their body and head constantly, if you can do Minorcas then you should be fine for most other breeds :).

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2014 2:48 pm 
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Cathy, when you double the ISO, that enable you to stop the lens down one more full stop so if you were at F11, you can now go to F16 and gather the extra depth of field. I'm surprised about the shuterspeed syncing with the flash at 200th sec. I'd have thought that there would have been problems at that speed. Keep it at 160th though for indoor flash only so you can remember it.

Your latest examples are slightly over-exposed due to the ISO change. Up one notch there equals a must change to one stop greater (larger number). As for camera height, I know the rules backwards for portraiture but chickens is a whole 'nuther ballgame. Trial and error or ask Andy. :)

Andy, you can have a full surround box *and* top lighting, just make the top out of some 'scrim' material. It can be ripstop nylon from a fabric shop or sail cloth or in an emergency, a white bed sheet. Just aim a light through it and you have instant accent lighting.

Linz :)

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____ __ _______ _ _ _ ______ _ ________ _ _ _ _____

[i]A lot of Andalusians. Anconas in Standard and Bantam PB Black Leghorns in Standard
and Bantam, Derbyshire Redcaps, Light Sussex Bantams.
[/i]
____ __ _______ _ _ _ ______ _ ________ _ _ _ _____


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2014 8:15 pm 
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Here we go with a real bird. A LOT harder. He did not like the surface at all. Have to rethink that. It is a faux leather. I thought the grip would be ok, but Mr Minorca said no. He relaxed eventually but took too long. I know how quick you have to be if you have a lot of photos to do.

Need to mention the auto focus doesn't like black. That's a problem that can slow me down at times. Really annoying to miss a shot because the shutter doesn't fire. If it happened I then focused on the distance and flicked it to manual focus but it depends how much the fowl is moving around.

Also, I find the tripod too restrictive when the fowl is moving a lot. If it sits there and does the right thing, the tripod is better. If I have to move the camera to get the shot, the tripod is just a pain.

Anyway, F16, ss 160, ISO 200

I started with the softer light dominant from the left. He moved right to the edge so I have a yuck bit of flooring there. The first one he was facing the wrong way. The second one he had turned.

image

image

Then I moved the harsher light closer and the softer one further away. You can see the shadow has moved. I don't think this one is well enough in focus, probably due to the auto focus.

image

image


This weighting of either light really makes it harder to get a shot because the bird really has to be facing the right direction. It cuts your possible shots in half. Also, sometimes the fowl just doesn't want to face a certain end. This one looks wrong - bird facing wrong end.

image


Nice sheen on this one as a result of the reflective strobe.

image


So from my perspective, remaining problems are:

* Flooring alternatives

* Autofocus problem on black

* Orientation of fowl

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2014 11:54 pm 
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Cathy, it's mostly easily fixed. Do you have distance measurements on the top of your lens? No matter if you don't but you can preset the distance, set the aperture on say f16 and take the camera off autofocus.

You're going to have acceptable focus, even sharp focus over about a 20-25cm range (or even more) if you do it that way. Or, you can set an object in the background roughly where the bird will be and focus on that manually and then, don't touch the focus again for the rest of the shoot.

Now, to me the shots look very slightly underexposed. Either turn the 'main' light up a bit or move it in a foot or so. (30cm).

You'll get better detail in the black feathers and better contrast if you do that. It would be good if you can do it tomorrow with the same bird and post the results. They'll be better, I promise.

Linz :)

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[i]A lot of Andalusians. Anconas in Standard and Bantam PB Black Leghorns in Standard
and Bantam, Derbyshire Redcaps, Light Sussex Bantams.
[/i]
____ __ _______ _ _ _ ______ _ ________ _ _ _ _____


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2014 7:44 am 
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Thank you Linz. I will do that. The colours were disappointing. Will go again.

Yes, there are distance measurements on the lens. 24 - 70. The lens I'm using is this one:

image
http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/24-70mm.htm

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