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Focus on the Fish


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#1 Fishseeker

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Posted 06 October 2015 - 01:57 PM

I've got a lot of salmon spawning in the creek at my cabin right now and I have a small waterfall that they're trying to jump over and I only get maybe a second to snap the shot and I'm trying to figure out how to get the fish in focus instead of blurred. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

D90/18-105mm & 70-300mm

#2 Dennis

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Posted 06 October 2015 - 02:00 PM

Do you have a sample image?

 

My first thought is pre focus on an area and then switch off AF. Use a large DOF (use F8 or 11).


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#3 justshootit

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Posted 06 October 2015 - 02:14 PM

Ditto Dennis' suggestion. It takes about 3/4 of a second for us to react to the presence of the fish in the viewfinder. That leaves 1/4 of a second - that's 250 milliseconds - to AF and release the shutter. Not easy. Plus, the D90 has a rather sparse AF sensor arrangement

If you pre-focus and set a narrow aperture, like an old-time photographer with an F3 would have done back in the day - you increase your chances by quite a bit.
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#4 james23p

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Posted 06 October 2015 - 05:20 PM

Dennis is spot on give it a try you will be surprised how well it works.

 

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#5 Fishseeker

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Posted 06 October 2015 - 06:58 PM

Thanks for the replies guys. I've been looking at some tutorials that I should have done before posting because it's all making more sense now. It seems like I really didn't take the time to get to know the camera and photography in general and got lazy and left the setting on P or auto and snapped away.

I know these aren't the greatest lenses but I'm hoping with practice I can start using the auto and with trial and error I can get better as I go. I'm tired of missing out on some great shots by not having it set right. Appreciate your input and looking forward to getting up to the cabin this weekend and firing away. Thanks again.

#6 Gary Worrall

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Posted 06 October 2015 - 07:11 PM

Hi there,

to freeze the fish in motion I would suggest using shutter priority,

Select a shutter 1/1000sec, you can do this by following these directions, and have a go and see what happens, then do some at 1/500sec

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#7 Fishseeker

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Posted 06 October 2015 - 07:32 PM

Actually I do have one question I really haven't been able to find info on. I can get as close as 5 ft. from the waterfall to as far as 30 ft. away and haven't found out the correlation between distance and having to zoom in and how that effects the settings.

#8 Art

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Posted 06 October 2015 - 09:14 PM

Actually I do have one question I really haven't been able to find info on. I can get as close as 5 ft. from the waterfall to as far as 30 ft. away and haven't found out the correlation between distance and having to zoom in and how that effects the settings.

 

Your 70-300mm will handle just fine in this situation.  I have used the same kit as you have and have had excellent results.  Make sure you have a good shutter speed and DoF (F8-11) and follow the advice Dennis suggested.  You should get some great images.

 

Here is a link from a few years ago.  I just did a search on them.  Taken with the D90 and I am pretty certain, the 70-300mm.  Just to give you an idea.

 

http://www.planetnik...+humber +salmon


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#9 Arlon

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Posted 06 October 2015 - 10:05 PM

Shutter speed is your friend. You might try shooting in shutter priority at 1/500sec or faster and see what happens. 


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#10 Fishseeker

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Posted 09 October 2015 - 08:20 AM

Thanks for the advice guys. I was hoping to get up there this weekend but I may not make it for a couple weeks now. Just like everything in photography it's all about the timing. The pink run will be over by then but the coho's are coming in right behind so there will be even bigger fish but not as many so it may be tough getting one attempting the jump.

I did take a look at the info on one of the shots where I got the blurry fish.
In program mode w/ the 18-105 lens:
1/100 f5.3 400ISO 80mm auto w/b.
Looking forward to playing with the settings next time I get up there.

#11 Dennis

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Posted 09 October 2015 - 09:07 AM

I have not done this before, but, I would guess a good place to start is;

 

1) Setting the camera on manual.

 

2) Shutter; A good starting place is 1/250. 1/100 would be slow in my mind, and 250 might be as well. My gut thinks somewhere around 500 as Arlon suggested. But, maybe, it's a slow jump up.

 

3) ISO to help make sure you can keep the shutter up. Will there be light, or is it tree (canopy) covered. 400 is a good place to start, but may not be enough. You will have to make a trade off between ISO and grain (noise).

 

4) Shoot raw, you have a better chance at making corrections than with JPEG. What software are you using?

 

5) Aperture. Now, I started writing this with setting your camera to shutter priority, but changed my mind. In shutter priority, you don't have control of the aperture. In addition to using ISO to support the shutter, you're going to need help from the aperture. In general terms, F8 would be a good starting place. But, if the area is subdued light, or dark, you going to have to open the aperture to also aid the shutter. This will lower your DOF. However, DOF is determined by; aperture, focal length and distance. If you use the 105 end of your lens, and you're not really close, you will still have a pretty decent DOF, even at F5.6. It's a trade off.

 

You can practice at home. Setup some kind of subject, a teddy bear, for example. And place it away from the camera at about the same distance. Make sure it is about the same size of the fish. Then setup your camera. This is not a test for exposure, be a test of how wide the DOF will be. If you can also simulate the lighting conditions, all the more. what you want here, is to see how wide the DOF will be at differant apertures, so you can pick the best one, and know the zone the fish needs to be in. Knowing this, you can then set up and prefocus, knowing about where and how wide the field of focus will be.

 

After the test with the teddy bear, enter your test in the current challenge (shameless plug).  B)


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#12 Fishseeker

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Posted 09 October 2015 - 10:17 AM

Thanks for the great advice. I was going to do a lot of practice shots this weekend but I never thought to simulate the situation. Actually my backyard would be good for this because the conditions and position of the sun are very similar. At this time of the year it won't be direct sun because it's so low in the sky it will never go above the tree line so that's what I'm dealing with. And I'm using photoshop elements right now which I'm still struggling with, but as I get more serious into this what would you suggest for a user friendly software program?

Also I'm still not sure without just trying different scenarios how the focal length effects the settings on the camera, dof and what not. As I said I can pretty much get as close or as far away from the waterfall as necessary or what the lens will allow. Thanks again for taking the time to answer with such a detailed response. It's time for me to just get out there and fire away.

Edited by Fishseeker, 09 October 2015 - 10:19 AM.


#13 Dennis

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Posted 09 October 2015 - 11:06 AM

The focal length in this case is just one part in determining what will be in focus. If you use your 70-300, then by virtue of it being a 300, things get compressed, and narrows the DOF. This does not mean, the 300 will not be good for this. It just means, there is a little bit more work to achieve the goal. 

 

Since you can get close, then the need to have a 300 is not really needed. The 105 can give you good results. I guessing, when you say you can get as close as you want, you can be on the bank and the fish is a few feet from you. You're going to want to have the fish, pretty much fill the image area, so you might need the 70-300. 

 

There are lots of places on the web, and you can even get apps on your phone, to calculate the distance. The benefit of doing the test, is you will see the field, and can then better gauge where to set up.

 

Go here; http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html  put in your camera and go from 105 to 200 using 10 feet for subject distance and F8. You will see how things work. Then try 300. Now, 10 feet away might be a little to far for 105, so try 20ft with 105, 200 and 300. Try nthe same with F5.6.

 

Believe it or not, this will be a fun endeavor. Might not get what you want this first time around, but it will be fun.


Thanks, Dennis.

Photography: 100 percent art, 100 percent technical. It takes a photographer to blend them into an image.

​Film: That tangible image that you can see and hold.

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#14 Fishseeker

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Posted 09 October 2015 - 11:48 AM

Thanks again for the great info. When I say I can get close, the waterfall is about 10 ft. wide with a drop of only 2 ft. into a small pool so I can walk right up to it in the water and either shoot the fish with the falls in the background or to side with the shore in the background and the falls to the side, all at water level or I can get on the one bank which is about 2 ft. above and shoot down on the fish with the falls and the pool in the background. I'm going to try all the angles and see which has the best effect.

Since we're talking fast shutter speeds should I use a tripod or should handheld be ok? I have an elec. cable release if neccesary. I guess with a tripod I could have it focused in and not have to sit staring through the viewfinder until I see one jump and then snapping which is what I was doing. I would probably have a better reaction time with the naked eye.

Thanks for the dof info, that does help.

#15 Dennis

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Posted 09 October 2015 - 12:01 PM

Yeah, I would use a tripod. Makes it a bit easier.


Thanks, Dennis.

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