Cardinal stare

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Pertinent technical details or techniques:

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D3400 70 - 300 kit lens, ISO 1600, f/13, exposure 1/250

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A very nice pose, Michael. I like the stare a lot. It looks like your autofocus picked up on the perch rather than the bird and the Cardinal ended up a bit on the soft side. I don’t know about Nikons, but with my Canons I always seem to have to up the saturation a bit on these birds in the RAW editor to make them look like I remember them. However, this is certainly within the realm of their normal variation in shades of red.

thanks Dennis

With respect to the saturation, Michael, my experience with Nikons is that reds and greens tend to be oversaturated and need adjustment. That said these birds are quite bright and you will see many cardinal images that are far more saturated than yours. Personally, I prefer your level of saturation. This looks a lot better as a large image but I agree with Dennis about the softness and the point of focus being on the branch. In order to improve this in the future, I would suggest that you use the single-point and the Nikon screen for focusing. And always shoot multiple images just in case one is a little softer than the other.

thanks David, i’m frustrated. no matter what I do … different settings, high ISO, low ISO etc. zoom in tight or back off, the highest SS I can get away with or low, different f stops … thousands of photos later and I can’t get that crystal clear sharp image that others can achieve with birds … just birds. I can shoot people and you can count the blackheads on there face LOL. can someone let me in on the secret …please … I’m about to give up on birds, however i’m not wired that way. all I have as far as a telephoto lens is a kit 70 -300 lens. could it be the lens ? certainly its not me LOL

Well…the tree is sharp the bird is not…that means either

  1. the bird moved…1/250 shutter stops almost nothing alive. Use 1/1000 until you get better at it.
  2. Focus failure…if your focusing by hand, you goofed, it’s hard, they are always moving around. If the camera is doing the focus (a spot focus setting), that feature may need some adjustment or you may need practice using it. If you have spot focus, you should be able to see in post exactly what the camera was focusing on during the exposure. If the spot was on the bird, the setting needs adjustment.
    For birds, long lens and accurate spot focus abilities are a must.