I decided to take a small break from my client video work this week and went to Bird Kingdom for a few hours to take a few practice images.
Like most photographers I’ve found that a little practice never hurts, especially when one is getting used to handling new gear.
I’ve been making the transition to using the rear screen of my recently acquired Nikon 1 J5s to compose images. I thought a return visit to Bird Kingdom would be helpful to practice capturing images of perched birds and a few other critters at the facility.
I brought a few 1 Nikon lenses with me as well as a set of MOVO extension tubes so I could get some practice with various species in different conditions at Bird Kingdom.
The great thing about setting aside some practice time is that I can try a few new things, or attempt to improve on past attempts without any kind of pressure.
It also gives me the opportunity to push my gear to its limits just to see what is going to happen. An example of that is the above image shot hand-held at 1/60 with my CX 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 fully extended, at ISO-12800. I wasn’t expecting any images that would be usable in terms of making printed enlargements, but rather as a simple performance test.
Setting aside practice time is also a great way to reinforce habits like waiting for a profile composition when photographing a long-beaked bird like the Scarlet Ibis above. This helps to ensure that the entire length of its beak will be in focus.
Or taking the time to choose a good capture angle to get a calming background in a composition.
On occasion practice allows us to time our image captures during very slight pauses in the movements of a walking bird.
Or exercising some patience to wait for a particular head angle that can help create a desired mood…
Or photographing a rather plain subject just to see what will happen with the image in post.
It can also be quite fun to experiment with symmetry and depth-of-field when opportunities present themselves.
At other times there is a small feeling of accomplishment when I capture a decent image of a particular specimen that has been especially challenging in the past.
Going to venues we have photographed in the past also allows for some anticipation of a particular type of technique or approach to capture an image. Like taking an image of a perched bird with one hand, with my arm fully extended, in order to get my camera physically closer to a particular species of bird.
Most of us enjoy creating photographs in new locations, or of new subjects. Sometimes I forget that going back and practicing with something familiar can help prepare me for new opportunities in the future.
All images were captured hand-held using a Nikon 1 J5 in available light. All photographs were composed using the rear screen of the J5 only. Images in this article were produced using RAW files using my standard process of OpticsPro 11, CS6 and Nik Suite.
Article and all images are Copyright 2016 Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, adaptation or duplication of any kind is allowed without written permission. Photography Life is the only approved user of this article. If you see it reproduced anywhere else it is an unauthorized and illegal use.
Thomas, another great set of images. Thanks. BTW, retirement sucks.
Given the crazy schedule you’ve been keeping for so many years I’m not surprised with your ‘retirement sucks’ assessment! When you’ve been flying at warp speed for so long slowing down puts you in an alternative dimension! Be great to catch up with you via phone soon.
Beautiful images as always! Unfortunately, i feel that this wonderful website has gone away from the ‘teaching’ and ‘enhancing’ our photography aspect of posting, to more journalistic posts which state a trip, or some experience along with photos. What originally drew me to this sight was how I felt my photography improved by reading articles on composition, lighting, gear, and each article I had a takeaway on how i might improve myself. As of late, it has felt as if i’m just listening to a friend tell an experience with images, especially in some particular (no names mentioned) articles which attempt to critique with no suggestions stated on how to improve.
Perhaps more of the improvement articles to come?
Thanks for your insightful comment. Provided me with some food for thought for future articles. I have done a few recent articles of the type you mention on my blog, i.e. considering focal and depth-of-field and changing white balance to create different effects with sunset images.
very good images, feeling love for the ‘objects’ due to your photography
Thanks for the positive comment Imran!
Wonderful work and such clarity!
I recently pick up the Nikon D500 but am struggling to get good images with it (unlike my D7100).
Need to learn from your techniques
Thanks Amar – I’m glad you enjoyed the images!
Beautiful work once again Thomas, have learnt much since following your “Blogs”
Now use dxO Pro 11 Elite, FilterForge Pro 6, minor adjustments in PhotoPlus 8,
finally enlarging in PhotoZoom Pro 6, thus improving results considerably.
Old/reliable Canon Eos 400d, and Canon EF 70-300mm 1.4-4.5 IS USM el cheapo lens.
Results not too bad, considering.
Thanks for the supportive comment and sharing some of the details of your post process workflow!
Vert Nice job with this “small” camera.
Thank you Richard!
Beautifully done!!! Last time I was out, I was trying to get myself used to the rear screen on my D750 … it just doesn’t feel natural, but honestly, there indeed are times when it’s very handy!! I’m liking the results from your camera, and have been beginning the should-I-shouldn’t-I dance … thinking how handy that little guy might be. Thinking … thinking …
I can relate to your ‘should I..shouldn’t I’ conundrum! When I bought my first Nikon 1 V2 I viewed it more as an inexpensive way to extend the reach of my F-mount lenses, as well as provide me with some additional flexibility when shooting client videos. I never intended to use it as extensively as I do now. Once I started buying a few more 1 Nikon lenses I began to use the system more and more…leading to my own ‘should I…shouldn’t I’ experience. Buying the CX 70-300 was the tipping point for me in terms of switching over to the Nikon 1 system completely and selling my D800 and all of my F-mount glass. It has been over a year and I haven’t missed my ‘big gear’ at all.
I certainly wouldn’t recommend that other photographers do what I did! The gear that each of us choose is an intensely personal thing. What works for one person may not be suitable at all for the next. There are image quality trade-offs when using a smaller sensor camera, as well as issues with low light performance (especially with images of people). I was willing to trade those off for a much smaller and lighter system which works well for my specific needs.
Related to your reply, one of the best I read.
How many times had you read that what I use is the best, and only the one to be used. That if you do not have such a body or a lens you are crippled.
My congratulations for telling that what was useful for you could not be suitable for other.
Very honest and humble reply. I wish it would be the general rule, but it is not so, petulance and ego prevail on internet.
I am glad that you are an exception.
Thanks for sharing and forgive my grammar, I don´t live in an english speaking country.
I’m glad you enjoyed the images – and thank you for your supportive comment!
There’s nothing to ‘forgive’ with your grammar! Everyone on the team here at Photography Life appreciates readers who take the time to comment!
Glad you liked ’em!
Nice work, Thomas! Do you use DXO Optics Pro for anything other than lens corrections such as distortion and chromatic aberration?
OpticsPro 11 is my main RAW processor. I typically use all of the ‘auto’ corrections like lens corrections, distortion etc. that OpticsPro 11 provides. Depending on the image I often adjust selective tone, contrast, and lens softness as well. I apply PRIME noise reduction to all of my Nikon 1 images regardless of the ISO at which they were captured. I very rarely use some OpticsPro functions like Clearview. Most recently I’ve been working on setting up some OpticsPro 11 custom presets for various types of images. I’m still in the experimental stage with custom presets.
After OpticsPro 11 has done its initial processing I export a DNG file into CS6 for some additional tweaks, then if needed, into Nik Suite. A typical bird image takes about 2-3 minutes to complete in post. This would include computer processing time.
Thank you Tom, not only for the courtesy of the reply, but also for going into some detail. Much appreciated by yours truly who has just added DXO Optics Pro to use as a first step before opening the file in ACR.
My probable workflow will be to sort in Photo Mechanic, then open a TIFF version in DXO and from there into Adobe camera raw in CS6.
You’re welcome Al! It is always a pleasure to try to help a reader.