Getting help

You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room.
– Dr Seuss

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Over the last week, I’ve been going through my photos and deleting the bad ones, setting myself a target of 500 a day. While doing this, I noticed that some of my photos of birds in flight are not sharp even when the shutter speed is high (1/1600 sec or higher). I realised that something must be wrong with how or where the camera is focusing.
On Saturday it rained and rained, so I made the most of my time inside by reading about the automatic focus functions on my camera. I realised that even if I do photography courses, they won’t help me to understand my specific model, so I need to help myself.
The more I read, the more I realised that focusing is vastly more complicated than it used to be. There are all kinds of custom settings that I hadn’t been aware of. And neither my manual nor articles on the Internet gave a clear indication of which settings are best for birds in flight.
Overwhelmed, I sent an email to a bird photography forum friend. He spent time looking up the optimum settings for me. I made the changes he suggested and waited eagerly to try them out.
On Sunday morning the weather was perfect! The sky was blue, with no clouds at all. I met another bird photography forum friend at our new favourite bird of prey place and we spent a fantastic morning taking huge numbers of photos.

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We saw some fabulous battles as the Black Kites hounded the White-bellied Sea-eagles.

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The birds often circled us so low that we couldn’t fit them in the frame!

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We moved to another place and watched White-bellied Sea-eagles fly right past us, once even in a group of three (which I missed!).

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I couldn’t wait to see my photos. Sadly, although some are pretty good, most still don’t have the sharpness that I want and that I know my camera is capable of. I did get some sharp ones though; so I guess I’m making progress.

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Strangely, some of my best photos were taken with the birds against cloud. I’ve always avoided taking birds against cloud in the past because I thought they’d just be silhouetted.

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It looks as if the learning is going to be an ongoing process.

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