Success Smells Like a Chickadee

If you’ll recall, a couple of weekends ago I posted pictures of the little tweetie birds enjoying the feeder I’ve put out.  In that same post I lamented about the quality of the photos.  They weren’t real sharp.

I’ve noticed a lack of focus with many of the photos taken with the 70-200mm, particularly when I zoom to 200mm.  I assumed (correctly) that it was user-error, not lens error.  But, I didn’t know what the heck I was doing wrong.

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So, at the same time I published that post I reached out via a thread on the Clickin’ Moms website asking for input and guidance.  I discovered Clickin’ Moms through my sister-in-law, who is both photographer and Mom.  I am a non-Mom photographer, but there is a place for everyone on that site.  And, there are some extraordinarily talented photographers on there.  Like, jaw-droppingly gorgeous photos and superb technique photographers. I took Mastering Manual Exposure through CM last summer and learned a dizzying amount of stuff in four short weeks.  I hope to take a class on composition this summer.

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General consensus among those who responded was that my focus was off.  Could be due to camera shake, focus being off the subject, etc.  I asked a few clarifying questions and received limited additional response, which I initially found a little frustrating.  Now I’m glad I didn’t have complete answers spoon-fed to me because it made me have to do my own research.  You’re admiring the results in this post.

May I take a moment to do a happy dance?  Haaappppyyyyy dancin’!  Whoot-whoot! Sunshine and rainbows and fluffy kittens and warm chocolate chip cookies!  The difference between the photos I took a couple of days ago and those I took two weeks ago? HUGE!  I mean look for yourself!  Go back to that prior post…then look at this post.  Night and day!  How cool is that?!

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What did I do differently?  A few things.  First, I’ve been pondering the whole issue, taking into consideration what the ladies over at CM had to say.  A lot.  I’m also, as I mentioned here working my way through David Busch’s Canon 60D book and…put it together and what have you got!! Forget bibbity-bobbity…I’ve got photographic improvement!!  Not perfection, but marked improvement.

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First, I didn’t know that my camera is capable of three different kinds of focus (one-shot, AI Servo, AI Focus) and that each have different strengths depending upon what your photographing (one-shot is ideal for subjects that don’t move, AI Servo is used for sports and other fast-moving subjects and AI Focus is a combination of the first two).  I selected AI Servo, because little birds are fast.  I also elected to use continuous shooting, which I’d not previously used. I committed to a shutter speed of around 1/1000 and didn’t let it drop lower than 1/800 and tried to keep the aperture from drifting below f/5 (the lens is an f/4).  I also used a tripod for every single shot.

I am so very pleased with the results.  That sounds so calm and refined.

I am so stinkin’ ridiculously excited!  Where’s me a cupcake? This warrants a celebration!

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