Newbie(ish) exposure question

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Wolfhunt, Sep 2, 2005.

  1. Wolfhunt

    Wolfhunt Guest

    Hi all,

    I need some advice, I am trying to shoot a hummingbird against a bright sky.
    Getting the
    shot set up is easy (they frequent the feeder I have) but I am having
    problems getting
    the bird exposed. I usually end up with something close to a siloutte. I am
    using a
    Canon Digital Rebel XT. Have tried the sports mode, Easy mode, and various
    of shutter and film speed in program mode.

    Any advice would be appreciated.
    Wolfhunt, Sep 2, 2005
    1. Advertisements

  2. Wolfhunt

    UC Guest

    ANY subject matter against a bright background will be a silhouette.

    There is nothing really to be done. You have to change the position of
    the camera or the background.
    UC, Sep 2, 2005
    1. Advertisements

  3. Wolfhunt

    dadiOH Guest

    Use flash.


    dadiOH's dandies v3.06...
    ....a help file of info about MP3s, recording from
    LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that.
    Get it at
    dadiOH, Sep 2, 2005
  4. Wolfhunt

    Phast1 Guest

    I'm not sure if the Rebel has the option but on my 20D
    I'd set it like this:
    Tv mode (probably very high to freeze wings, 1/1250 sec.)
    Exposure meter set to 'center weighted'
    Use only center focus point aimed at bird.

    Sky will be washed out but bird should be exposed better.

    Phast1 (newbie'ish too)
    Phast1, Sep 2, 2005
  5. Wolfhunt

    Beach Bum Guest

    Use either manual mode or AE lock and expose for the grassy ground (not
    black top) and then shoot the bird. Right now your camera is exposing for
    the sky.
    Beach Bum, Sep 2, 2005
  6. Wolfhunt

    dj_nme Guest

    If you don't want to take another picture (assuming that there is some
    detail visible in the bird), is to use a "contrast mask" by copying the
    image as a layer, inverting and then switching to overlay mode.
    That will darken the lightest bits and lighten the darkest bits.
    It can turn a far too contrasty image into a slightly more acceptable one.
    You may not like it and want to take the pic again, using the flash
    methods described by others in this thread.
    dj_nme, Sep 2, 2005
  7. Wolfhunt

    Pap Guest

    Oh teacher!! TEACHER!!! Wouldn't a fill flash work here?
    Pap, Sep 2, 2005
  8. Wolfhunt


    I agree with the other poster, "Use a flash" to expose the bird. Set your
    shutter/apeture to get a nice sky exposuer. play with second curtain flash
    and shutter speed to get some interesting wing blur...

    With your Canon a speedlight will work nicley...
    DBLEXPOSURE, Sep 2, 2005
  9. Wolfhunt



    DBLEXPOSURE, Sep 2, 2005
  10. Wolfhunt

    Wolfhunt Guest

    Thanks All,

    Using a combo of Phast1 and Beach Bums advice I got some good shots as far
    exposure goes. I ended up setting the exposure to center weighted, the
    shutter to
    1/1250 to 1/2500, and used a tree across the street to set the exposure
    level and
    then help the AE button (lock exposure) and snapped a bunch of shots.

    The hummingbird was exposed very well against the sky and had really good
    Now I just need to keep trying until I get the bird in the shot the way I
    want and that's
    just patience and snapping a whole bunch of shots.

    (This is why I love digital, all my expermenting doesn't cost me anything
    but time :) )

    PS - I couldn't use the flash because I was shooting through a double pane
    window. I just got reflections of the porch even while shooting at an angle.
    Wolfhunt, Sep 2, 2005
  11. Wolfhunt


    If you can get your camera on the other side of the glass, expose for the
    sky then you will get both a good sky and a good bird. perhaps a tripod and
    a remote trigger.
    DBLEXPOSURE, Sep 2, 2005
  12. And *a lot less* time than with film (even if the film and development
    was free, you'd still have to spend the time to go to the lab, plus the
    one hour waiting to see the results -- no chance to take immediate
    action based on the feedback that you're getting, etc.)
    That will *severely* limit the quality of the result -- isn't there a
    way that you could arrange to have a direct line? That way, you could
    try with the flash (which I agree with the other posters -- using a
    flash *could* dramatically improve, at least if you have a flash sync
    of 1/500, like the Nikon DSLRs), but mainly, you won't have the quality
    deterioration introduced by the two pieces of non-quality non-clean
    glass of the windows.

    Last, but not least, WHY haven't you posted your results so that we can
    see them?!! :) (in this newsgroup, we charge for the advice that we
    give -- the good thing is that we don't charge in currency, but in
    opportunity to see the results!! :))


    Carlos Moreno, Sep 2, 2005
  13. Wolfhunt

    marsmello Guest

    can you put the flash on a cord and put it outside? You could also try
    to gobo (mask) the reflection, but this also implies getting the flash
    off-camera. I also like the other suiggestion of exposing for the bird
    and blowing out the sky.
    marsmello, Sep 2, 2005
  14. Wolfhunt

    Mike Kohary Guest

    You will need to shoot this one on manual, as any auto exposure mode
    (including aperture and shutter priorities) will underexpose the shot.
    The camera sees all that sky, and is fooled into thinking the shot is
    too bright. In reality, the main subject is what you want to capture
    well, so you'll need to manually expose the shot.
    Mike Kohary, Sep 3, 2005
  15. Wolfhunt

    Phast1 Guest

    The Gods have spoken. Whenever someone suggests to me "Manual mode"
    I get scared. Being newbie'ish it kinda makes me feel like 'I don't know
    what the f**k
    I'm doing!' which is only partially true, but still.

    How *do you manually expose the shot Mike?
    I'd like to face this fear... help?

    Phast1, Sep 3, 2005
  16. Wolfhunt


    Firstly, in manual mode your camera meters the light differently, Center
    weighted as apposed to, "average" in the auto modes. This way you can
    target your subject with the circle in your viewfinder and that is what your
    meter will responding to.

    Now, you will have to pick an aperture/shutter combination. this gets into,
    "Depth of field" and I have had too much to drink to type out an explanation
    in detail of DOF.. If you have good light use an aperture in the center of
    the range, f8 or f11, (your lens is sharpest with a middle range aperture)
    now set you shutter by the meter... You might have to open the lens up to
    get a fast enough shutter to freeze the birds, at least somewhat freeze

    Humming birds are not likely to sit still long enough for you to fool around
    with the meter so you will go through some shots before you get it right (or
    maybe you'll nail it right away?)

    I still believe the best approach is to meter the sky and you a canon speed
    light in ETTL mode.

    This way, You set the exposure for the sky and the camera/flash with
    automatically expose the bird... it is you best bet.. but you have to the
    camera out from behind the glass..

    A washed out sky is a tell tale sing of an amateur. Your background is as
    important to the composition as the subject is....
    DBLEXPOSURE, Sep 3, 2005
  17. Wolfhunt

    Phast1 Guest

    Thanks for the pointers DBLEXPOSURE.


    Phast1, Sep 3, 2005
  18. Wolfhunt

    dadiOH Guest

    Open the window.


    dadiOH's dandies v3.06...
    ....a help file of info about MP3s, recording from
    LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that.
    Get it at
    dadiOH, Sep 3, 2005
  19. Didn't you say you had a DSLR camera? Part of the magic of it is that
    you can experiment for free. Shoot, and if the shot is too dark, then
    shoot again (with different settings, that is :))

    As already explained, the camera has a light-meter that helps you.
    But you could simply go with the speed that you decide is necessary
    to freeze the wings, and then set the aperture to maximum (the lowest
    number that your lens allows you -- f/4, f/3.5, f/2.8, etc.).

    If the shot comes out dark, then raise the ISO (you could start with
    ISO 400). If after ISO 800 or 1000 the shot is still too dark, then
    lower the speed and try again. Repeat this step until you've gotten
    to a speed of 1/250th, ISO1600 and the maximum aperture. If at this
    point you're still too dark, then you're out of luck, and you'll have
    to do whatever is necessary to shoot with a flash.


    Carlos Moreno, Sep 3, 2005
  20. Wolfhunt

    Wolfhunt Guest

    Thanks everyone, some really good advice here.

    First the answer to the easy question; The window doesn't open and if it did
    my cat would
    probably have a field day :)

    I've been having desent luck setting the exposure using a tree across the
    street then locking it in.
    The window doesn't seem to really be effecting the shot too much. Maybe
    because the bird is
    fairly close to it. (about 1-3 feet).

    I'd love to post some of the shots I have but being new to this I'm not sure
    where. Suggestions?

    Thanks again for the advice and I'll post some shots as soon as I figure out
    Wolfhunt, Sep 8, 2005
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.