Monday, April 27, 2015

It's Not Just Luck Hummingbird Photography Tips

This photo is the result of trial and error that basically took me all day to get. I achieved part of my goal (freezing the hummingbird wings) but the other part of my goal I did not. My next goal is to figure out how to light that beautiful red gorget for maximum color. This photo was created  partly from hummingbird photo tips from one of my favorite hummingbird photographers Gregory Scott and partly from lots of patience. Check out Gregory Scotts amazing work HERE. Not only are his photos amazing but he's a great human being as well, willing to share tips with other photographers to help them rather than keeping all of his photo secrets to himself. I wanted to pay it forward so here are some tips that will hopefully help another photographer who loves these little flying gems as much as I do. 

 One of  the tips I learned from Gregory Scott was to use a macro lens to get great detail. Most people including myself believed that you needed a really long telephoto to get hummingbird shots but this is not always the case. For this photo I used a 105 mm 2.8 macro lens on a tripod. The reason for the macro lens is detail. You can set his to a really large f-stop number like 18- 22 and this helps a lot with your depth of field for focusing so if you prefocus the focus is a little more forgiving. The camera was set 3-4 feet away from the feeder.  I prefocused in the area where I wanted the hummingbird to hover and sat in a chair with my cable release in hand and waited and shot and waited and shot until I got the right combination of the little flying gem hovering where I wanted and the light to freeze the wings. 

The settings for this photo were F-stop 18, shutter speed 320, ISO 200 and 3 flahes set to manual 1/32 power including the on camera pop up flash that triggered the other two Nikon S-B800 flases. I also used a piece of foam core board that you could purchase at any craft store for the back ground. The back ground was placed about 4 or 5 feet away from the feeder where I was trying to get the hummingbirds to hover. 

Most people think that hummingbird flight is frozen with a fast shutter speed but that is not the case. It's flash duration that freezes the wings. And believe it or not this is done but setting the flash to a lower power rather than higher power. Bigger isn't always better. These settings are not written in stone as far as the camera settings so put your camera on manual and just take some test shots to get the light to where you want it by adjusting the shutter speed and f stop combos until you get what you want. I also used the lowest ISO I could because these keeps the noise down. 

In order to get the flahses to do what you want, you need to have control over the light which you can't do in sunlight. I shot this in the shade on a cloudy day and I had the best results around 4 pm when the sun behind the clouds went behind the house. These were all shot on our deck using the shade from eves of our house but you could do this in your yard if you have deeply shady spot. I used a sprig of flowers inserted into a hummingbird feeder port and I taped off the other 3 ports to get the hummingbird to hover where I wanted. 

I photograph on a budget so I have two tripods and two off camera flashes. I used one tripod for the camera and another for one of the flashes but since I only have two tripods for my 3rd tripod I used the arm of a chair and some electrical tape to hold the flash in place. The other part of my studio was the piece of white foam core board that I used for the back ground.

 I hope these tips are helpful to others learning their way in photography and on a budget like myself. I'd like to be able to afford more flashes but in the mean time I'll make due with what I have and continue to try to get the most of what I have. 

Thanks for stopping by to read my blog and for following my progress as a nature photographer. If you'd like to see more of my work, click on the photo below. 

Photography Prints

Sunday, April 12, 2015

How To Get Nikon Optional Picture Controls Onto Your D300

Sometimes it's the little things that either drive you crazy or make you happy depending on the outcome.

I just spent hours and hours trying to figure out how to load the Nikon Picture control landscape setting onto my Nikon D300. I love nature, I love photographing nature but I am no programmer. All the computer jargon took my poor brain for a ride. What's a "root folder" anyways? Through trial and error I finally succeeded in getting this onto my Nikon D300 and I can now shoot using the landscape mode if I so choose. Here's one of the first photos using this mode:

Ahh greens look ...well green! And I have nice saturated color but not too saturated. I'm not exactly sure why the camera didn't come with this and also the portrait mode but it didn't. I tried following the instructions on the Nikon website but they were as clear as mud. I'm pretty sure the newer Nikon D800 and 810 comes with these already in the camera but I'm still saving for one of those. If you want to contribute to my new camera fund you can buy something Here or Here  :-)

So for anyone else who has pulled their hair out trying to figure out how to add the Nikon optional picture control settings onto their camera, here is my non-programmer minded explanation for the rest of us.

First you go to their website Here

Next I went onto my main drive on my computer and created a folder called PICTURECONTROL. I don't think it matters what you name the file but I put it in all caps because I read another tutorial somewhere that had it in all caps so I did this just in case it did matter. I don't think it matters what you name it either. Then I went back to the website and selected the one I wanted (landscape in my case) and then I found my camera model and operating system which was Nikon D300 and Windows and I clicked on the button to accept the download. Then I navagated to the folder that I created and clicked inside it and made sure it downloaded there. I have Windows 7 so it may be a little different on windows 8. Your computer may default to another place for downloads but you can change it to get it into the new folder you created by navagating there.  Once it downloaded, I then had a file in my new folder. Next I double clicked on this and it created a Nikon folder with the picture control inside.

This is where it got tricky. At frist I just put the file on a formated Nikon CF card using a card reader but my camera wouldn't recognize it. *Note I think it's important to start out with a formatted card (card that has been formatted in your Nikon camera).  It said "no file on card" or something to that effect.  I finally figured out that I needed to copy that whole Nikon file that contained the picture utility file. Once I copied the Nikon file with the picture control utility inside, I pasted it onto the Nikon CF card (not in the DCIM file but just on the card.

Next I put the card into the camera and in the menus found the little icon that looked like a camera. Under that I went to manage picture control and then load/save and then copy to camera and OK. Wala! Now I have more options to choose from on my camera.

I hope this is helpful to anyone else who was pulling their hair out trying to figure out how to add these onto their Nikon D300 or other Nikon DLSR Cameras.