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This Bald Eagle juxtaposition image was created from a rocking boat near Homer, AK on the March IPTs with the Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens, the 1.4X III TC, and the
In the above situation with a large bird occupying a good portion of the frame it is imperative to figure out the correct exposure in advance by checking the histogram to make sure that it is well to the right without any blinkies. Once you determine the correct exposure, set it manually. And that is just what I did in this case. By doing so your exposure will not be thrown off if there is more black in the frame one moment and more white the next. To learn exposure theory study the chapter on exposure in the original The Art of Bird Photography; it is the great strength of a book that has sold more than 35,000 copies and laid the foundation for many of today’s great bird photographers.
Working In Manual Mode.
Below is a (free) excerpt adapted from The Art of Bird Photography II (916 pages on CD only). There is a huge on-going thread on BPN that I started a few days ago: Manual vs. Av and Other Modes. At the time I was working on this blog post there were 154 replies and the thread had 2,636 views. Quite interesting to say the least. I began the thread because there are a small number of folks out there who firmly believe that if you are not working in Manual mode 100% of the time, you are not a real photographer. If you read through the thread, you will quickly learn that I disagree most emphatically. 🙂
BTW, thanks to all for the get well wishes. The hand and especially the finger are doing and feeling great. I am in the motel on St. Augustine Beach getting ready to attend the Speaker’s dinner. Now here is the very best news. When I am done at the festival I will write a blog post or possibly several on when and why I use the various modes.
Working In Manual Mode
Many professional and serious amateur photographers work in Manual mode most of the time. Over the past few years I have been working in Manual mode more and more. I still use Av mode with exposure compensation whenever the background is of a relatively constant tonality and the subject is at a constant distance. When the background tonality is changing from moment to moment but the light is constant, it is best, however, to work in Manual mode. In either case, I rely on Evaluative Metering. Here are some examples of rapidly changing backgrounds: a shorebird on a rock along the edge of the ocean with waves breaking behind it. Birds flying against a blue sky with occasional white clouds and then dropping below the horizon. Cranes flying by in front of a variety of backgrounds that might include sky, mountains, yellowed grasses, or water. As many folks are confused as to how to work in or set exposure compensation when working in Manual mode, I offer the following basic tutorial.
#1: When you work in Manual mode you select and set the shutter speed and you select and set the aperture. With my Canon cameras the default has you changing the shutter speed with your index finger dial and the aperture with the thumb wheel.
#2: After selecting Manual mode, point your camera at a scene or stationary subject and lock your tripod head so the framing remains constant. Next select and set the desired aperture. Then adjust the shutter speed until the analog scale in the viewfinder nulls out to zero. With Canon pro bodies this scale is laid out vertically along the right side of the viewfinder display (when you are working in horizontal format). With many of the pro-sumer bodies the analog scale is laid out horizontally at the bottom of the viewfinder display. The zero or null indicator is at the center of the analog scale. The three full stops above the null symbol (marked in 1/3-stop increments) indicate overexposure. The three full stops below the null symbol (also marked in 1/3-stop increments) indicate underexposure. If you change the aperture and you do not see the small square moving, check either the top or the bottom of the analog scale. You will note a small triangle at the top if you are way overexposed or a small triangle at the bottom if you are way underexposed. If the former, rotate the dial and choose faster shutter speeds, if the latter, choose slower shutter speeds. In either case, you will soon see the small square moving up or down the analog scale. At first, you will simply want to practice nulling the meter, that is, getting the small square to rest on the null symbol. This indicates that you have now set the metered exposure (as determined by the camera’s Evaluative Metering system.
#3: When you work in Manual mode it is not possible to set exposure compensation. To come up with the exposure that you wish, simply change the aperture or shutter speed as above until the small square indicates the amount of over- or under-exposure that you desire. If you wish to work at +2 stops, you need adjust either the shutter speed or the aperture until the small square rests on the symbol that is two full stops above the null symbol. If you wish to underexpose by 1/3 stop, you need adjust either the shutter speed or the aperture until the small square rests on the symbol that lies just below the null symbol.
With a bit of practice you should quickly become comfortable whenever the need to work in Manual mode arises. Which is often 🙂
Just think how much you would learn if you purchased the two book bundle (ABP and ABP II) and studied hard….
Below is a list of the gear mentioned in today’s post and some other stuff that I use regularly to keep my sensors clean. Thanks a stack to all who have used the Shopper’s Guide links to purchase their gear as a thank you for all the free information that we bring you on the Blog and in the Bulletins. Before you purchase anything be sure to check out the advice in our Shopper’s Guide.
Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens. Right now this is my all time favorite super-telephoto lens.
Canon EF 1.4X III TC. This new TC is designed to work best with the new Series II super-telephoto lenses.
25mm Extension Tube. This vaulable accessory allows for closer focusing.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body. The very best professional digital camera body that I have ever used.
And from the BAA On-line Store:
Gitzo GT3530LS Tripod. This one will last you a lifetime.
Mongoose M3.6 Tripod Head. Right now this is the best tripod head around for use with lenses that weigh less than 9 pounds. For heavier lenses, check out the Wimberley V2 head.
Double Bubble Leve.l You will find one in my camera’s hot shoe whenever I am on a tripod and not using flash.
Delkin Sensor Scope. This cool, indispensable device allows you to see sensor dust so that you know where to clean.
Lens Pen Combo Kit. The answer to your sensor cleaning problems. Use the small pen on your sensor, the larger one on your lenses and teleconverters.
Giotto’s Super Rocket Blower. Don’t waste your time with smaller versions; you need to power of this large blower to clean your sensor successfully.
Delkin 32gb e-Film Pro Compact Flash Card. These high capacity cards are fast and dependable.
I pack my 800 and tons of other gear in my ThinkTank Airport SecurityTM V2.0 rolling bag for all of my air travel and recommend the slightly smaller Airport InternationalTM V2.0 for most folks. These high capacity bags are well constructed and protect my gear when I have to gate check it on short-hops and puddle jumpers. Each will protect your gear just as well. By clicking on either link or the logo below, you will receive a free gear bag with each order over $50.