View Full Version : The Trouble With Pine Grosbeaks

11-21-2011, 08:02 PM
I see these little guys on the road several times a day on trips out to work and have been trying to shoot them with little success. I think the problem is the continued grey and sunless days for the last few weeks combined with the featureless background. Any pics I take appear under exposed and dark. Both of these are shot with a canon 70-300 at 300. the one with a little bit of sun was at f10 and obviously came out a little better. The other was a f4 trying to compensate for the dim day. At first look they were all very noisy/grainy most of which was removed in LR. The only saving grace to the darker photo is that I caught 1 in mid hop, otherwise not much of a shot.
Bumped the iso up but that did'nt do much either. Believe it or not these were the best I could manage.....even with processing.:sad:
Whats the solution??:confused:

11-22-2011, 05:06 AM
Got several that look just like that Aub. Love the little hop caught in #1.

One word for you that will help, "FLASH".

11-22-2011, 06:24 PM
Thanks for the tip on the flash Hbg! Tried it out today with some success.
results were still a little hit/miss but definitely improved. Both the attached shots are 1/1 crops shot with the 70-300 at 300mm, f4, +2ev, and 430 ex2 cranked right up. I think I need some practice but I have all winter *sigh*
Its the first time I have seen the crossed bill.

Doug L
11-23-2011, 12:53 AM
... Its the first time I have seen the crossed bill.

Indeed, these latest shots are of male White-winged Crossbills. Very similar in markings as the Pine Grosbeak but they are quite a bit smaller in size. I'm no expert but am looking at the Sibley guidebook. Nice capture!

11-23-2011, 09:53 AM
Shot 1 in post 1 looks underexposed. Did you try to capture that same scene with more exposure? If not, why not?

Your exif data shows lots of room for play for increased exposure.
Personally I don't use center weighted average metering very often as this bases the exposure on the center of the image...and my focal point is rarely central. This may have affected the exposure of this image.

Date Time Original: 2011:11:21 10:04:43
Exposure Time: 1/500
F Number: 5.6
Exposure Program: Aperture priority
ISO Speed Ratings: 125
Metering Mode: CenterWeightedAverage
Flash: Flash did not fire, compulsory flash mode
Focal Length: 300
White Balance: Auto white balance

11-23-2011, 10:11 AM
The snow is over-driving your meter. Try using a grey card to set the exposure. Alternatively, measure the light off of something else in the area that doesn't have so much snow in the frame. Recompose focus and shoot. Having that much snow in the photo will present so much contrast that you may not be able to get that great shot you're looking for while they are on the ground there.

11-23-2011, 10:21 AM
Hey doug. After looking at these I was coming to the realization that I probably had 2 kinds of bird here. Thx for the info!

Been working on these for a few days here trying to get the improved exposure. The 1st two I tried to keep the f value down and let the iso float thinking it would go up a bit and help exposure... iso did not go up much.
The second set I had the tip from hbg and had been surfing and found recommendations to increase exposure comp 1 1/2 to 2. So on the second 2 shots I went with the 430 flash and +2ev and noticed a considerable improvement (yay)
I will try changing the metering as well....thx, and will bump up the iso manually to 400 and try that next.
Also the posted pictures (all 4) look quite a bit darker than my edits. The board is darkening them a bit.

11-23-2011, 11:34 AM
Hey AUB - exposure is essential to be comfortable with before flash use.
I wasn't even sure it was snow in shot 1 it's so dark, but because it IS snow the underexposure makes PERFECT sense.
I recommend manual mode for learning exposure. All camera meters are stoopid in the same way. They average out every scene (based on 18% grey) 100% of the time.

This scene is NOT normal - meaning there is NOT an even representation of tones. When there is an even representation the camera does a good job averaging....but when there isn't, the camera is brainless so it still averages out the scene and feeds you an exposure based on that average. Your job/goal as the photographer is to OVER-RIDE scenes that are not normal. manual mode is best until this becomes second nature.

Bright snow means the camera is averaging it out - and averaging out that much bright snow makes the scene grey.
Solution - increase exposure by at least 2 full stops.
The board's image may be a bit darker because it's 275k max and maybe the image on screen is 20 megs....but the main issue here is the initial exposure....and the flash will not help the entire image only the foreground. This is seen in post 3 where the images are better lit because of the added flash, but the scene overall is still underexposed.

Hope that helps - marko

11-23-2011, 07:14 PM
I see you are shooting with a 7D. If so, why shoot at such low ISO. I know from experience that these camera can happily shoot at ISO 2000 all day long and still be quite noise free. Don't be afraid to bump up ISO and get your exposure right, first and foremost.
As Marko said, I hope you are using manual mode.
As for flash, I would have to say that the last two shots are dramatically improved over first shot, (and not just foreground), but overall exposure. I would also have to say that the dull gravel infested snow will definitely not be causing too much problem in the metering. It is not like it is bright white snow here. If the sun was out, maybe, but these shots, excluding one, are all grey day shots, with a dull surrounding.

11-29-2011, 08:20 PM
Hey all....been away for a few days. Thanks for the help. Been working on the photos in the shade like this and am making some good progress with your advice. hope to post some better results soon.

12-06-2011, 05:53 PM
Aubintbay - Keep persevering! Lots of sound, good advice here!