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Thread: Getting perfect pose

  1. #1
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    Default Getting perfect pose

    Dont mean to be a thread junkie, but I noticed on here (and other forums) some beautifully presented photos of birds with not only a perfect pose, but uncluttered foreground and backgrounds. How do you manage this? Most of bird photos have branches etc in front of the bird, and additionally cluttered backgrounds.

    How is this done? Do you pick a spot where you can 'set up the scene' ready for a bird to wander by and, by some small mirracle, perches on the branch you picked? Or are some photos taken from bird feeder, as I call 'controlled environments'?
    CC's, Reposts and Comments welcomed

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    Carlos
    Nikon D300s
    Land Rover Discovery
    http://www.plottier.net

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Getting perfect pose

    As far as I know, hardly any photos in the forums here are taken in so called 'controlled' environments. There's only so much you can control wild animals anyway. I know that a lot of people have different techniques, I'm a walk around and hope for the best person, and sometimes you just get lucky and end up in the right place at the right time. However the knowledge of where specific birds like to hang out, their favourite perches etc is invaluable when it comes to planning a nice photo. Some people like to set up in a hide situation and wait to get that specific photo. But it's personal preference. The best thing for it is just to get to know the birds you want that 'perfect' photo of, know where it hangs out and the environment and it gives you a better chance of getting that photo.
    Reposts welcome =)

    Blog- Close Encounters of the Bird Kind. Updated 28/05/2014 "Courting Cuckoos"

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Getting perfect pose

    Patience! Often the best photographs are taken on the off-chance, against probability. If you keep at it, keep following that bird chances are it will perch on a branch that is more conveniently out in the open. The chances of that bird doing it on any given moment may be very low, but by following the bird or by waiting for the bird or whatever, you increase the likelihood that you will get it in a place that will make a great photo. Remember, birds do not have a concept of what makes a great photo, so you have to learn to make advantage of their movements. Knowing the behaviour, the closeness to which you can approach local species helps a lot in stalking wild birds. This also comes with practice. It can help you predict what a bird may do next, and if you can do that, then you can play the game one stop ahead of the birds which can result in some fantastic opportunities. Many photographers these days stalk birds, using an active approach. (Don't forget to make sure you aren't negatively impacting the bird in this way).
    In terms of an uncluttered background, having a longer lens helps in that regard, but it certainly isn't the be all and end all. For example, a 600mm lens will only use a very narrow field of view, thus effectively making the background more even/less cluttered, while a 300mm lens has a wider view so more of the background is included in the image. If you are shooting birds on the ground, make sure you get down low (ie, lie down on the ground) in order to get that nice, uncluttered background.
    Tobias Hayashi
    Canberra, Australia
    www.flickr.com/photos/callocephalon

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    Default Re: Getting perfect pose

    Interesting points. I think in my position, seeing that these last few months have been my sole experience with birding, I have only had the opportunity to shoot small birds (wrens etc). Now as you you, these are flighty little buggers and hard to follow, they take off quicker than the eye can follow at times. The point of knowing the bird species and habitat is one I intend to improve over time, and hopefull it will add to getting that perfect shot.

    Cheers,
    CC's, Reposts and Comments welcomed

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    Carlos
    Nikon D300s
    Land Rover Discovery
    http://www.plottier.net

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Getting perfect pose

    Tobias hit the nail on the head for me on this topic, a lot of it is chance. Some of it is also great PP skills

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Getting perfect pose

    Carlos, the truth about small bird photography is that most class shots are setups. Mostly the 'secret' is call playback. Also, feeders. Obviously, if you know you can draw the bird into range, and you know its going to stay around, then you can set up the perches and the background and even control the lighting. We're not particularly sophisticated here in Aus, but read the American bird photography sites and you'll see they even set up painted backgrounds behind their backyard feeders. If you are in any doubt about this, check out this website http://alanmurphyphotography.com/blog/ and scroll down to see how a world leading-photographer gets those amazing images. This guy is doing the standard pro stuff, not something unique.

    I also know that a lot of pro photographers regularly obliterate their backgrounds - to give that nice creamy completely-out-of-focus background. They get very good at it, but you can often tell if you examine them long enough.

    Of course not eveyone goes this way. I generally find that Aussie photographers take a less sophisticated approach and most Aus fauna is not particularly responsive to artificial feeding.

    Arron
    www.patonga.me : botany, wildlife, fishing, check it out

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Getting perfect pose

    I would'nt say that aussie photographers are any less sophisticated Seems like we have a more laid back approach to small bird photography eg. not as much use of playback or perch setups etc (only approx. 5% of shots on this site are taken using call back from what I can tell).
    I have never used any form of playback to bring in birds and I have many shots of songbirds singing, feeding, and generally doing what they do.
    In terms of the perfect pose, thats just a matter of pressing the shutter button at the perfect time. Often its when the bird gets the shine in their eyes from the sun (catchlight) or it could be when the bird turns its head towards the camera. This eye contact helps to engage the viewer of the image.
    When it comes to backgrounds, the further away the background is - the more out of focus it is going to be so you can learn just by using that knowledge where the better perch and BG will be.
    The Juv. Brown Treecreeper I posted two days ago is a good example of a BG that I selected before the bird was even on the tree. It involved a bit of luck but also some knowledge of the birds behaviour. Good topic to bring up, hopefully we'll get some more discussion when I bring this up in the upcoming weekly educational article/discussion. Keep your eyes peeled for this in the next week or so

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Getting perfect pose

    Quote Originally Posted by wingsonwire
    (only approx. 5% of shots on this site are taken using call back from what I can tell).
    Actually, that sounds about the right ratio according to my quick scan of the images here. However, when we cull the number down to those which address Carlos's original requirements (images with clean backgrounds, no obstructions across the bird's body, good head angle and good body pose) then the ratio increases. I think about 30% of those photos involve setup with playback, feeding, water drips etc. Its guesswork though, I'll admit.

    Carlos, I should have mentioned hides. Remember, every bird species you see only exists because it has learnt to keep a safe distance between itself and anything showing that cluster of body types it has come to learn are a threat. Hides break up your form and allow you to get closer, sometimes amazingly so. Even if you are predominantly into walking and taking your chances, get a highly portable hide and put it in your backpack, and pull it out when the opportunity presents. I carry one of a couple of lightweight ones which I'll illustrate below. Please excuse my wife being stupid in one of these photos, she thinks its all a bit of a joke. I did an article on sewing up your own bag hide and posted it on the pre-meltdown version of this site. I could dig it out again and repost it if anyone is interested.

    cheers
    Arron
    www.patonga.me : botany, wildlife, fishing, check it out

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Getting perfect pose

    However, when we cull the number down to those which address Carlos's original requirements (images with clean backgrounds, no obstructions across the bird's body, good head angle and good body pose) then the ratio increases. I think about 30% of those photos involve setup with playback, feeding, water drips etc. Its guesswork though, I'll admit.
    Not sure about that. I might talk to the moderators about making it a requirement to include in your image post whether the shot was taken using playback/perch setup. Would be nice to no some actual figures. If you are reading this and you use playback, please include details when you post next

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Getting perfect pose

    If the moderators are able to get that level of co-operation out of the posters then I'd be more inclined to require them to post the location and date the photo was taken. Without location information a photo of a bird might have merit as a photo but its contextless from an environmental perspecitive. Having the date the photo was taken provides a necessary temporal context as well, especially with migratory species.

    Many a time I've wondered where a photo was taken because it might say something interesting about the distribution of a bird species - but no information.

    cheers
    Arron
    www.patonga.me : botany, wildlife, fishing, check it out

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Getting perfect pose

    I use a modified version of what Arron & Paul have been discussing. That is I look for a natural setup/setting that provides a clean background and I know that the perch is favoured by a bird (part of its habit). I then stake out a position & wait, whether I use a hide or not depends on the species. (eg; shy & recluse species i will definitely use a hide & for others I will even remain out in the open.

    I sometimes use playback but that also depends on the species, the season and even the type of call I have. A word of warning here. Some species get extremely agitated if they cannot find the source of the call - Rufous Whistlers come to mind. When that happens I turn the playback off.
    Cheers,
    Geoff


    reposts welcome

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Getting perfect pose

    Quote Originally Posted by Arron
    If the moderators are able to get that level of co-operation out of the posters then I'd be more inclined to require them to post the location and date the photo was taken. Without location information a photo of a bird might have merit as a photo but its contextless from an environmental perspecitive. Having the date the photo was taken provides a necessary temporal context as well, especially with migratory species.

    Many a time I've wondered where a photo was taken because it might say something interesting about the distribution of a bird species - but no information.

    cheers
    Arron
    I'ld have to disagree with this. I don't think it should be compulsory to date the photo or post it's location. This is especially so for rare and endangered birds.
    If you want more details then what is posted, then get more involved in the forum and ask for more information. I'm sure if you find something interesting, or you want more context about a certain photo, than you should feel free to ask about it. Also I imagine that other members here would also definitely appreciate any knowledge that you would like to share with them as well.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Getting perfect pose

    Quote Originally Posted by Arron
    If the moderators are able to get that level of co-operation out of the posters then I'd be more inclined to require them to post the location and date the photo was taken. Without location information a photo of a bird might have merit as a photo but its contextless from an environmental perspecitive. Having the date the photo was taken provides a necessary temporal context as well, especially with migratory species.

    Many a time I've wondered where a photo was taken because it might say something interesting about the distribution of a bird species - but no information.
    cheers
    Arron
    Sorry Carlos for the slight tangent here -
    I agree Arron - I think posting location and date would be great and indeed more valuable than anything else. I reckon most people do indeed put the location though. Perhaps not as clearly as you may be after. It would be great for people to be more transparent in everything they do so that people can learn more but I suppose it comes down to forcing people to write too much and then feeling less inclined to post?
    Cheers, Dave

    www.davidstowe.com.au WORKSHOPS

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    "So God created every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good." Genesis 1:21


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Getting perfect pose

    Sorry Carlos, the thread hijack continues.

    The reality about posting location is that you can be as specific as you feel is necessary to protect your rare species/endangered habitat/nesting site/unique opportunity or whatever. As an example, if I take a photo at Longneck Lagoon I may choose to give the location as Longneck Lagoon, Nth West Sydney fringe or Cumberland Plain, and most people would naturally do this. Of course the more specific the better, but all are useful and at the least would act as a trigger to seek more information if I see something interesting.

    Carlos, this might be interesting. This is an old post from one of our members (?) about his setup viewtopic.php?f=21&t=2237 . I have to admit I'd always admired the clean look of this guy's photos and wondered if he relied heavily on photoshop, but when he posted this it confirmed that the careful control of the setup is the real reason. I'd love to have something like this, but like most of the people here I live in a capital city and I wouldnt be able to get to a spot like this often enough to make it worthwhile.

    Arron
    www.patonga.me : botany, wildlife, fishing, check it out

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Getting perfect pose

    No apologies required guys, this is indeed a very interesting topic for me as I have not even gave thought about these issues!

    Thank you all for your very informative posts. I think ill give the various options mentioned here a go. I showed my wife the photos posted by Arron (thanks - my wife had a chuckle as well as she thinks its a joke too ) and she said that Chicken Feed (a store here in Tassie that sells cheap stuff) has camo blanket/sheets for sale... so may need to investigate this

    I will think about the playback use as well... we are actually moving from an inner city house to more suburban property, except, theres loads of native bushland and even two reserves nearby... so looking forward to that. I also will try a feeder type setup in the back yard as I noticed (whilst doing the open home viewing - I got my priorities right) that loads of small birds were flying in and out of the backyard trees/shrubs.
    CC's, Reposts and Comments welcomed

    _________________________________
    Carlos
    Nikon D300s
    Land Rover Discovery
    http://www.plottier.net

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