Walk-around Birding – How To and Settings…

There are quite a few of us who indulge in walk-around birding. In short, we walk around parks and general birding hotspots and try to get whatever shots we can. For a vast majority, this happens on weekends.

I am just going to discuss one technique that I have learned over the years during my walk-around birding. This is about the settings I use on my camera and how.

Most of us already know that we can find birds just sitting around or ones that just fly past. We mostly miss out on the flypast ones. The shutter speed is the culprit in all these cases that I have seen so far (besides focus, but, that remains otherwise as well).

This is a technique that I have shared with my colleagues and friends which helps in dealing with such scenarios for the most part.

Generally, we would use slower shutter speeds for sitting birds than BIFs which would require a much higher shutter speed.

I will not get into which camera mode you choose to shoot in or if you use full manual or auto-ISO. The kind of metering mode you use will affect any “auto” that you use. That part is all yours.

The only mode in which you cannot use this technique is the Aperture Priority since this is based on shutter speed.

Personally, I use full manual (excepting for Auto-Focus and Auto-White Balance) and you can and use manual mode with Auto-ISO for similar results. I spend a lot of time round-tripping my shots from any new gear to figure out the response to light and distance and prefer to set the ISO manually instead of depending on the metering on the camera.

Now, when you are at the spot you want to start birding, just take a test shot to make sure that you have the camera working as expected.

Then, set the shutter speed to your favourite BIF speed. I generally use 1/1250, although, I have started using 1/1600 with my Nikon D850 and I will explain why in another video.

Now, take a test shot again and just make sure it is not too dark on the histogram of the LCD on the camera. I would not advise looking at the image to figure that out.

This is actually it!

Always walk-around with the camera set for BIFs. You will have enough time to reduce the shutter speed for still targets, but, if any bird flies past, you might not have the time to bump up the shutter speed at that moment.

Whenever you take a sitting bird shot, let us say with a shutter speed of around 1/640, make sure you switch right back to 1/1250 after that.

This process has two advantages…

1. You will generally be able to get birds in flight that pass by since your camera is already set for that.
2. For smaller/tiny birds, you would need a higher shutter speed even for sitting shots and even if you take those shots at 1/1250 or just one rotation of the shutter speed dial lower, you will still get them. Assuming you are working with the camera default settings of 1/3rd stops, a single rotation of the dial will set the shutter speed to 1/1000 which is good enough for most tiny birds.

To summarise, always keep your camera set to shoot BIFs. Change the shutter speed only when needed for sitting targets and switch back to the BIF settings right after that shot.

Last, but not least, is that you should keep your shutter speed to what works best for you for BIFs. The lowest reasonable speed from my experience is 1/1250. Feel free to go higher than that when needed. For example, small birds would be better at 1/1600, the tiny ones would require 1/2000 or even more.

Try out this technique and do drop in your experience with the same in the comments.

My Flickr stream has more images with the complete EXIF at Flickr in case anyone wants to look at the settings and the details related to the same.

Cleaning up Shadows in Wildlife Macros

Where there is light, there will be shadows!

In this short video, we will look at a different technique for cleaning up shadows in macro images using Lightroom range masks.

This technique can be adapted for other images as well. The final image can be seen on Flickr.

Let us look at an example to see how this is done…

Cloud Storage – What is the best option?

I will not get into any arcane storage options of unknown companies offering lifetime schemes. In fact, I would advise avoiding all such for a variety of reasons.

Let’s look at the top 3 names that offer us reliable cloud storage for normal users.

1. Apple iCloud

2. Google Drive

3. Microsoft OneDrive

Although there are some more names like DropBox, Amazon etc. we will ignore those for now…

Speed up Adobe Lightroom Classic

This is a little known technique that I wanted to share, but, kept forgetting 🙂

Basically, it’s not just Lightroom, this technique works for all disk/file intensive applications on the Mac and since Windows also indexes file, this would work on Windows as well.

Let’s take a brief look at how to speed up such applications on the Mac…

Adobe Lightroom Classic 10 Bug – Masking broken?

I generally use Lightroom for all my raw processing and avoid Photoshop unless I am replacing a sky or a similar composite.

One of the tools I use a lot in Lightroom is the Adjustment Brush and the AutoMask feature in that for edges.

Although I have updated to version 10 and therefore cannot show a side-by-side comparison, but, the change from the earlier version is quite visible even in normal masking.

Let’s take a brief look at this issue…

Photoshop 2021 Sky Replacement vs Luminar 4

Let’s take a look at the all-new sky replacement feature introduced in Photoshop 2021 first since that is the most talked-about addition.

There are some other new features in Photoshop as well as Lightroom, but, we will get to those in later videos.

Sky is the replacement 😀

Photoshop – Remove specular highlights/shine/shadows for wildlife

This is perhaps more relevant for macro photography and flash, but, can also be used in other cases.

To demonstrate this technique, I will use a close-up image of a snail for the highlights and shine removal and a bird image for shadow removal.

Let’s see how we can go about doing this in Photoshop…

#Photoshop #Wildlife #Highlights #Shadows #Post

Lightroom 9.4 – Local Hue Adjustment for Macro Photographers

This feature was introduced in version 9.3 and I have found it very useful for wildlife macros. Of course, we do have similar conditions with birds at times, but, this is more useful for macros.

We often see a major green tint when we photograph insects in the wild on leaves and branches. Adjusting the overall image tint in the white balance does not work in these conditions.

Earlier, one would have to go to Photoshop to fix these issues, but, now it can be done in Lightroom itself.

Let us look at an example to see how this is done…

Lightroom 9.4 Import Bug – EXIF Date-Time Issue!

I ran into this major bug while re-organising my mobile shots and I consider it serious enough to share. In short, if you are using date/time functions in the Lightroom import, you have to be careful and double-check to make sure this bug does not impact your catalog.

Let us see what this bug is and how it can create chaos in our catalog.

Focus Stacking Using Lightroom & Photoshop

One of the ways of overcoming the current technology limitations in photography is called Focus Stacking.

This technique allows us to overcome the area of focus (DoF) in images. We can take multiple shots with different focus points and later combine these to get the entire image in sharp focus.

Let us see how this can be done using Lightroom and Photoshop.