Is this photo any good?

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As for the eye question above, I routinely use the lasso tool (in Photoshop Elements) to circle just the eyes and increase the brightness (typically pulling down the right side of the bar in levels, though you can also just use the brightness tool).

As for original osprey photo, cropping will be fine though if you want to print it you will be limited on how big (prints require more resolution than a screen). The osprey itself looks great; the main thing I find distracting is the white sky all around. This is often unavoidable, but with practice perhaps you can learn to capture the bird when there are trees behind. This does take practice because sometimes the autofocus will get fooled and lock on the trees instead of the bird.
 
(So, what trick can I use, to make the eye more visible, without making the image look fake??????)

Get down at the birds level :) That's how you make the eye more visible... Remember you have a flippy screen and the D780 is a Z6 in DSLR clothing ;) so that is easy to do.

Generally speaking, getting down to your subjects eye level will make for more compelling shots.
 
As someone who's longest lense is a manual focus 300mm, and an occosional 2x TC, I can say that there is bothing wrong with your photos that new gear would change. Heck, even the forst, heavy crop looks fine on screen! As pointed out, printing might be an issue, but then you can print quite large with only 7 MP, just don't look at it with a magnifier.

Other thaj that, nothing I could really ad that wasn't said already. I like how the Osprey seems to look at you in the first image. And the crane in the trees is simply beautifull.

Re:gear: one of the cheapest and easiest ways to get more reach is a DX-body, something like a used D500 or D7500 (if you some decent budget) or a used D7100/200. And a second body doesn't hurt anyway. Maybe even a used D300, I really liked mine for that!
 
Very good photo for 300mm and cropped. Post some photos with the subject filling more of the frame.

Also, having the attitude that the experience is way more important than the photograph is vital: Even if that photograph wins World Wildlife Photographer of the Year, the experience is still way more important, so enjoy it.

Most of wildlife photography is finding the right situation. If your subject is too far away, it will never look great regardless of the equipment one uses or the skill/experience of the photographer. To get a great image which shows good detail, most people are surprised at how close you actually have to be to a relatively small subject like a raptor, even with the best pro lenses.

But- and this may be true for you too-- it was quite heavy to carry on walks and hikes. And I'm 14 years younger than you. The 200-500 is heavier than the tamron 150-600mm. So think about how you'd use it and whether the weight is an issue.

Now that's a very nice photo. One thing I'd recommend is using a lower ISO, you'll get better details in your image (my most used ISO is 1000); 1000 is usually fine unless it's quite darker than it was when either of your photos was taken. I'm a bit older than you are, so you're not finished taking good photos nor are you finished learning and getting better.

Get down at the birds level :) That's how you make the eye more visible... Remember you have a flippy screen and the D780 is a Z6 in DSLR clothing ;) so that is easy to do.

As someone who's longest lense is a manual focus 300mm, and an occosional 2x TC, I can say that there is bothing wrong with your photos that new gear would change. Heck, even the forst, heavy crop looks fine on screen! As pointed out, printing might be an issue, but then you can print quite large with only 7 MP, just don't look at it with a magnifier.

Other thaj that, nothing I could really ad that wasn't said already. I like how the Osprey seems to look at you in the first image. And the crane in the trees is simply beautifull.

Re:gear: one of the cheapest and easiest ways to get more reach is a DX-body, something like a used D500 or D7500 (if you some decent budget) or a used D7100/200. And a second body doesn't hurt anyway. Maybe even a used D300, I really liked mine for that!
@JDG Photo - yes, I will be doing that in the future, but cropping has its limits. I was thinking I could replace my D780 with a D850, and have 50 megapixels instead of 24. That simple switch would help me - a lot. If the camera is on a monopod, the weight won't be such an issue for me. Will do as you suggest - my next visit to Wakodahathee Wetlands should be fairly soon, before Florida becomes unbearably hot...

@Doomrider74: - Experience - yes!!! The more I do something, the better I (eventually) get. Need lots, LOTS more practice.

@Phil Seu: - I guess I need to force myself to NOT seriously try to capture those photos, or take them anyway for the practice, then delete later. On my next trip I will try to be more selective as to what I photograph. I usually "shoot first, and think later". I hope I will eventually accept what is beyond my limitations.


@AlanB313: I have (grudgingly) accepted what you wrote about the weight. Even on a monopod, I think that 200-500 is more than I can deal with. What are your thoughts on Nikon's much higher 40-400? So far, that looks like a reasonable choice for me.

@Woody Meristem: - I used to feel the way you do, but my Nikon D780 allows me to shoot at even 25,000 ISO, and as long as I'm processing the images in DxO PhotoLab, the noise/grain is mostly under control. Ken Rockwell posted a series of photos that shows how the detail decreases as the ISO reaches the stratosphere, but I'm no longer concerned with ISO - 2,000 or 5,000 ISO allows me to use a higher shutter speed, and perhaps a slightly smaller aperture, which I find very helpful. Thanks about the last comment - at some point age may be a bigger factor in my life, but maybe not for many years. I turned 80 this past December. Glad to read what you wrote!! Thanks!!!


@StefanSC: - I wil certainly keep that in mind for the future, but since I find myself on a "boardwalk" going around the wetlands, while I can't get as low as I want, maybe I can photograph birds further away from me, so I'm not "shooting down" at them. I will certainly keep this in mind for the future.


@hef19898: Yes, that Osprey is either looking at me, or my brother 20 feet to my right. I think you are correct though, since I was obviously following it, it makes sense that it was paying attention to me. This clearly shows in the photo. I posted the original photo to show how little of my image I used - and to improve in the future, a longer lens is an obvious choice, but switching from my D780 to either a D850 or Z8/9 would all get me twice my resolution.

I have no desire to change over to ML cameras, too old for this, and I'd likely be replacing most of my lenses too. The D850 might be the most obvious choice for me.

The D780 includes the "smarts" from the Z6, and I am just now trying to learn how to use them in ML mode (Live View) on my camera. I bought two books on the D780, and hope to learn how to do this. I don't think I will enjoy using the rear screen as much as using the viewfinder, but I want to try this for myself. Nikon did all this for a reason, but I haven't found a single person yet who understands this, and YouTube videos haven't yet been much help. I know I can use "tracking", but with animals I can't track "eyes" with my D780.

Oh and for my conclusion so far from this discussion, I now feel my picture IS good, but I want to do better "next time".

Thank you all!!!!

(How do I refer to other users, such that they know I replied to them? Is there a way I can type their user name here, that will let them know that I did so???)

(I have added the @ to the above user names - thank you!!!)
 
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(How do I refer to other users, such that they know I replied to them? Is there a way I can type their user name here, that will let them know that I did so???)
Add the '@' sign to the front end of the user's name as you type your post, you'll get a pop up as you type that showing all the user names with those starting letters, select one or type out the whole user name. Their name will show up blue in your post and they'll get a notification that they were mentioned in your post.

Like this: Hey @mikemyers
 
You can use quotes, I get an alert if one of my posts was quoted.

I was in the same boat regarding mirrorless, and as you I was eyeing a D850 (ultimately too expensive) or a D780 to replace my old D700 one day. Until it died, and the D780 and D850 were above my budget, a replacement D700 quite expensive for what it was. Also, I never really liked the D750 (no idea why, it is a great camera). Turned out used Z6s in mint condition are currently cheaper than used Z5s and D780s. With my most expensive AF-D lense also dying, I bit the bullet: sold most of my F-mount gear, gifted my D300 and went for a Z6, 24-120, FTZ II and, since the Amazon deal was too good, a Z30 with a 16-50 mm kit lense.

I am happy with the kit, only problem is that is the first time I spend real money on gear. And like all entry drugs, well, let's just say my next purchase will be a 100-400 Z... But not soon, even if used ones show up for reasonable prices now that everyone switches to the 180-600. One had to love GAS, especially if it is other people's!
 
I guess I should never have posted this here. I don't yet have a 500 or 600mm lens, only my 300, and I've been using it for photographing flying birds even though the resulting image is quite pixelated

From what I read in this forum, and what Steve shows/writes, that is beyond my current capabilities, but I take the photos anyway. Most "people" like them. Better photographers probably feel I'm wasting my time, and theirs.

It's discouraging, thinking that for a thousand dollars I might conquer this kind of photography, which will still have a long learning curve, but maybe I shouldn't even bother.

To me, while it is NOTHING like what Steve shows us in this forum, in a small size, as posted above, I like it anyway.
Everyone is at a different level when it comes to photography. If I look at my pictures from 10 years ago, I've come a long way. It takes time and we all work with what equipment we have. I think it's awesome you have a hobby you enjoy and that you caught your BIF!
 
AlanB313: I have (grudgingly) accepted what you wrote about the weight. Even on a monopod, I think that 200-500 is more than I can deal with. What are your thoughts on Nikon's much higher 40-400? So far, that looks like a reasonable choice for me.

(How do I refer to other users, such that they know I replied to them? Is there a way I can type their user name here, that will let them know that I did so???)
Hi Mike- don't worry about trying to acknowledge everyone who responds...we'll all be glad if you find a good solution! And I can't answer about the 40-400, I've never used it. But I'm finding that zooms that don't get to a larger aperture (like f4 or f5.6, in my case) won't lock on with the AF. My 500mm PF f5.6 is snappier than my 150-600mm tamron G2. And a lot lighter. But I shoot with a dslr (d500).
It could be worth renting something to try it out. My local camera store will credit the rental cost if you buy one upon return.
Good luck!
 
I have to agree with this - the more attempts I make, the better I get at following the bird with my camera.
The first few times were an absolute disaster, but this time I was able to follow the bird for the whole time it was in view.
It's (only) $1000 to buy the Nikon 200-500, which presumably will last a long time.
I'm 80. The older I get, the more difficult this is likely to get.
I should probably post here a lot more, and get feedback.
I am encouraged to see the many responses focusing on the experience of getting the images. I loved my 780. I will add that as my eyesight deteriates as I approach 77, I am glad I switched to the Z 8. The autofocus has greatly improved.
I can't see if you are shooting in cropped mode already. If not, go to crop mode to boost your 300 mm. I think your lens, in crop mode, may be enough if you can focus better than I can.
 
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It's your photo - if you are happy with it then that's all that matters. I have a picture that I shot in the Serengeti of a giraffe under a tree. It's a minimalist shot, so the rest of the image is just the flat landscape. But the giraffe and tree are very far away - I shot it with the Sigma 150-600 at 600, but it's just too far. I love that image, because it really shows what it is like in the heat of the day, where animals find whatever shade they can. I wouldn't enter it in a contest, nor try to sell it, and certainly wouldn't put it up on my wall. And most photographers would pick it apart due to it's flaws. But I love that shot, so it's in my keeper file.
 
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I guess I should never have posted this here. I don't yet have a 500 or 600mm lens, only my 300, and I've been using it for photographing flying birds even though the resulting image is quite pixelated

From what I read in this forum, and what Steve shows/writes, that is beyond my current capabilities, but I take the photos anyway. Most "people" like them. Better photographers probably feel I'm wasting my time, and theirs.

It's discouraging, thinking that for a thousand dollars I might conquer this kind of photography, which will still have a long learning curve, but maybe I shouldn't even bother.

To me, while it is NOTHING like what Steve shows us in this forum, in a small size, as posted above, I like it anyway.
Mike, you appear discouraged but this is what you need to know. a) Photography takes a LOT of patience. Waiting, always ready for the perfect moment that doesn't come very often. If you have the patience you will get the shots you are proud of. b) The equipment today is amazing BUT takes a full fledged engineer to operate it as second nature (just kidding). If you recognize that it takes many (many) hours of practice to operate the camera on a moments notice and to get it right then you are halfway there.

Be kind to yourself, believe in yourself, be patient and practice and learn everything you can about this amazing hobby. We are very fortunate to live in this digital age where the capabilities of the tools are incredible. When I started 60 years ago I was using ancient tech that had a huge 'hit-and-miss' component to it.

Keep the faith brother. You CAN do it!

Cheers,
 
All good comments here. As said it is not an arms race. I started out with inferior equipment to what you have but as I am a bit of a perfectionist I wanted better photos etc. so I entered the arms race but only to a point. For me it’s still about being in nature and the fewer people around the better. Having better equipment will allow you to get closer and better able to do action shots more easily. But I would say in your case with only 300mm getting closer is the most important thing. Good composition and paying attention to the background comes with practice.
 
First time at doing this - and the Nikon D780 can go to astronomical ISO values, still capturing a good image. The reason I used the high ISO was because I wanted to use a very high shutter speed, and that was the fastest fix I knew of.

I wasn't really out "in the wild"; these were taken at Wakodahatchee Wetlands, two hours from my home, with more birds than I could count. All were hand-held.

One more photo from that day:

(So, what trick can I use, to make the eye more visible, without making the image look fake??????)

View attachment 88524
It is generally best to get eye level with your subject as frequently as you can. Looking down on the subject is generally not a flattering perspective.
 
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It's your photo - if you are happy with it then that's all that matters. I have a picture that I shot in the Serengeti of a giraffe under a tree. It's a minimalist shot, so the rest of the image is just the flat landscape. But the giraffe and tree are very far away - I shot it with the Sigma 150-600 at 600, but it's just too far. I love that image, because it really shows what it is like in the heat of the day, where animals find whatever shade they can. I wouldn't enter it in a contest, nor try to sell it, and certainly wouldn't put it up on my wall. And most photographers would pick it apart due to it's flaws. But I love that shot, so it's in my keeper file.
Exactly right Gayle. Some of our photos contain memories that are irreplaceable, regardless of the image quality.

I spent a year in East Africa as a commercial pilot and had tons of time for Safari's in both Kenya and Tanzania. Film was the issue in those days as the heat degraded the film fairly rapidly, so many of my photos from those days are sub-standard. However, despite the poor quality this is one of my favorites from those days long ago.
 

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I took the following photo in Fellsmere, Florida a week ago. I had my Nikon D780 and the 70-300 "P" lens which I bought last year. The bird came flying out of a tree next to a small pond, flew away, then came back flying over my head. I had the Nikon in "burst" mode, while pressing on the back-button focus button the whole time. With "only" 300mm, the lens captured the image, using a small part of the file, shown below...


View attachment 88296

Questions - is this photo any good, or worthless?
I expect to buy a 500mm Nikon lens soon, but don't have it yet.

What might I have done to improve it?
(I can post the original .nef file here, if that would help.

View attachment 88293View attachment 88296
Do you mean 1/1250 shutter speed ? Not Shutter Speed: 10/12500

Fill the frame with the right lens focal length is absolutely paramount.

If your going to crop anything heavily then you need more pixels with sharp accurate focus as the more you crop the more imperfections may be revealed.

The rest will follow, i feel you expecting a little much here given the crop level.

First comes the right tools

Next is developing the right technique.

For resolution the D850 is cheap and brilliant.

500 PF lenses are going very very cheaply now and will tolerate a 1.4 TC unlike many SLR zooms.

Lens, a 200-500 or Tamron 150-600 are dirt cheap, either will help you fill the frame and enhance focusing.

If your ss was 1250 maybe 3200 at F8 would have been better, only you can determine this.

Dont let anyone discourage you, keep going.

It wont do you any good my telling you what ever you want to hear to be nice or politically correct.


Only an opinion
 
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Here's one more photo.
Minimal cropping.

What size should I use for uploading images to this server?View attachment 88492
As you see working with in the capability of the lens reach yields better outcomes.

I find and it may be just the platform we are viewing images through, often the case, that with DSLRS usually a -07 ev helped greatly in retaining detail in whites or showing subtle shadows - contrast in whites.

I find this when doing surfing events middle of the day with white water froth -07 ev helped me retain micro contrast or shadow detail better, i can always raise shadows its hard to dull down whites or recover detail not originally there in whites, your file on your computer may very well look perfectly fine.

Only opinion
 
I assume you have the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR AF-P FX, if so, its a versatile very sharp exceptionally light lens.
If weight is your key concern it will be a tough compromise in order to get quality long reach to fill your frame with the subject.
The compromise may be
weight,
size,
cost
or zoom options.

Only you know what works best for you,

There is some good DSLR glass out there used, even teh 70-200 FL F2.8 is getting attractive and woirks so well with the TC 1.4III.

Primes DSLRs

two that come to mind is the 500 pf that has come down significantly in price and will continue to fall as people continue to upgrade to mirror less PF glass versions.

The 500 PF is an exceptional lens and a prime that will work well with the second generation TC 1.4 III offering optional 700mm reach.


The 300 PF is also now very cheap and falling, its a F4 prime but will work with a 1.4 TC III well and = 420mm and does not suffer with noticeable focus breathing, the 70-300 doesn't take a TC from memory and suffers very mildly with focus breathing, which may not be an issue for what you do.

Zooms DSLRS

The 150-600 Tamron at 1.95kgs, its very cost effective and performs exceptionally well. If that's to heavy or not for you, i don't know.

The cheap used 200-500 Nikon is sharp and colourfull and preforms very very well but weight will be the issue here for you at 2.4 kg.

The last generation 80-400 is cheap and takes a TC but i don't like TCs on a Zoom that much.

Sigma make a good 100-400 worth looking at.

On sale or used their are options for cheap longer reach DSLR tools, the 70-300 you have may well be all you need and the best compromise may be reach well over 300mm, if you used a 45mp sensor the tollerance to cropping may work better for you, its somthing you would need to test your self.


Only an opinion
 
The last generation 80-400 is cheap and takes a TC but i don't like TCs on a Zoom that much.
Thanks for all those possibilities; the 80-400 is reasonably light, reasonably inexpensive, and sounding very tempting.
How can I identify that a lens I might find is "the last generation"?
Any special markings on the lens?
 
Thanks for all those possibilities; the 80-400 is reasonably light, reasonably inexpensive, and sounding very tempting.
How can I identify that a lens I might find is "the last generation"?
Any special markings on the lens?
I use Ken Rockwell,
He has a wealth of information especially on most historical products, in his reviews he always has a Compared to paragraph (see below) that often refers to current and all subsequent models, a bit like an encyclopedia or history out look LOL.

Ken Rockwell was the one that actually got me into photography and for ages has been my go to.


https://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/80-400mm.htm Ken Rockwell 80-400 read his overall review.

https://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/80-400mm.htm#comp scroll down


I am not saying the 80-400 is the total answer but gee there not expensive, they have the reach, they take a TC1.4, look into Ken Rockwell's review on the 100-400 as well who knows it may be a fit as well.

1715822734999.png
 
Thanks for all those possibilities; the 80-400 is reasonably light, reasonably inexpensive, and sounding very tempting.
How can I identify that a lens I might find is "the last generation"?
Any special markings on the lens?
.
I recommend reading this review of the nikon 80-400 lenses. They compare the older version to the newer one. They discuss the compromises of all encompassing zoom lenses fairly well.
 
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