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Couple of Goldfinches

PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2011 6:54 pm
by Ironwood
During the winter we are plagued by Goldfinches. When the temperature gets down around freezing or below here they come! I have two juice bottle feeders, a 2 liter and a 3 liter. There's so many Goldfinches along with my regular winter guest they go though both feeders of Black Oil Sunflower seeds, 5 liters, in one day! Thank goodness they have all gone home now.

I happened to catch this one coming in for a landing! The other one is a typical Goldfinch, sitting on the feeder keeping the Chickadees and Titmouse from getting any of the seeds.


Re: Couple of Goldfinches

PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2011 9:47 pm
by FireCloud
Good photo work. Do you recall what shutter speed you used? It takes a very high shutter speed to freeze those tiny wings.

Re: Couple of Goldfinches

PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2011 6:12 am
by Ironwood
Fire Cloud, I normally don't keep the exposure data on my photos. Here's what I can remember and what I think the exposure would have been. On that day I was using my Olympus E410 DLSR. I was shooting with the 40-150MM Lens F4.0-5.6. (300MM, 35MM equivalent)

If I remember correctly the day was sort of overcast (cloudy bright). I normally shoot at ISO 200, Aperture Priority, but I'm pretty sure I would have kicked the ISO up to 400 or 800 maybe on up to 1600. Probably at f5.6 and maximum zoom. From the blur of the wings I think my shutter speed would have been around 1/360th of a second.

My E410 camera does save the exposure settings but that's long gone. Here is a shot of the information screen on my camera. I took this photo with my Cannon S3IS to show a friend in Australia what to look for on his camera. He shoots only at AUTO, but he's learning. :)


Re: Couple of Goldfinches

PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2011 12:09 pm
by dustygoodson
kool pics

Re: Couple of Goldfinches

PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2011 8:36 pm
by FireCloud
Thanks for sharing the photo data, Ironwood. I normally don't like to try doing high speed action shots (and I refuse to take photos of people!) Just never been very good at it. I guess if I worked on it more, I would get better at it.

Given the very good depth of field precision you achieved, I assumed you might have stopped down the apperture a little more than the range you mentioned in order to get that sharp foreground focus and blurred background, but since it was a cloudy day, I can understand keeping the aperture a little more open. I would bet at the settings you describe a 1/500th to 1/1000th shutter speed would still have given you proper exposure, because there seems to be enough light, and would have frozen the flying finch motionless. All in all, it is a FAR better photo than I would have achieved. I need time to study my shots and make decisions about the settings. Plus my father taught me to shoot lots of shots starting at one end of the range of reasonable settings and working the camera to the other end of the range, then just cull the bad ones!

In my daily work, I often take 300 or more shots in a day of motionless objects. For that I just let the camera do the work on auto as no one cares much about the quality of my photos. They just want it done fast and at low resolution, giving me no artistic license to be creative.

However, your wildlife photos do inspire me to want to spend some time taking photos for my own enjoyment. I sure enjoy seeing your work. Thanks for sharing them.

Re: Couple of Goldfinches

PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2011 6:34 am
by Ironwood
Fire Cloud, I've probably been taking photos longer than you been living. You are entitled to your opinion of how you think I took that photo, but from what I've seen of your photography you don't really know what it's all about. If you would do a little studying about photography you might improve. As long as you shoot just on AUTO you are not taking the photo, the camera is. When you learn to tell the camera what to do then you are beginning to do photography.

If I inspired you to do better why don't you believe what I tell you about a photo I took. Had I taken that photo at 1/1000th all action would have been frozen but you wouldn't have been able to see it because it would be totally underexposed. The higher you go in zoom less and less light gets to the sensor so of course you have to go down in F stop and slower and slower in shutter speed.

Re: Couple of Goldfinches

PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2011 4:28 pm
by FireCloud
Ironwood wrote:Fire Cloud, I've probably been taking photos longer than you been living.... from what I've seen of your photography you don't really know what it's all about. If you would do a little studying about photography you might improve...

Had I taken that photo at 1/1000th all action would have been frozen but you wouldn't have been able to see it because it would be totally underexposed...

Ironwood, you are absolutely correct when you say studying will help a photographer improve. Which is why I spent years learning photography from my father, who started as an amateur photographer and in his later years did professional photography work, including selling and exhibiting his photos in competitions.

It's also why I took several professionally taught photography courses in my early 20's and learned to do my own darkroom work. I have continued to study for the more than 40 years of my own photography activity and have shot countless thousands of photos during that time using some very good, professional quality equipment. Last year, for example, I took well over 5,000 photos.

But of course, my professional coursework in photography, my one on one tutoring for countless hours by a professional photographer, and my four decades of practical application shooting tens of thousands of photos in that time certainly would NOT give me anything like the amazing photography skills you possess. I can see why a world class expert like yourself would truly look at me with disdain and say to me "you don't really know what it is all about" when it comes to photography. I believe you when you say you have been shooting photos longer than the 58 years I have been alive. So it makes sense for you to tell me to "go study" and just maybe "you might improve." Coming from you, I know this is the advice I have been missing to help me learn something about photography so that I too can one day perhaps gain a miniscule level of the skills you have. Thank you so much for helping steer me in the right direction with your heartfelt assessment of my skills.

And since I was not there when you took your photos, you are also correct once again when you say I don't know what is possible to do when taking shots of goldfinches in flight. If you say that using a higher shutter speed would have yielded a photo "that you would not be able to see" due to underexposure, then because you possess such incredible photo skills, who am I to offer a "second opinion" about how to take the photo? Forgive me for doing so. I am just someone who does not know what it is all about, as you have made clear to all the readers on this forum.

Taking a photo of a goldfinch in flight and freezing the action is so incredibly hard to do that I am quite sure your blurry winged photo where you don't even see the head of the bird is absolutely impossible to beat. But because you have inspired me to "study more about photography" I googled the topic "goldfinches in flight photos" and got back endless pages of hits where other professional photographers and some amateur photographers have posted for the entire world to see their meager attempts to duplicate your fantastic results.

I found dozens upon dozens of shots of goldfinches in flight with almost all of them technically superior in clarity and composition than your photo. Here is one photo, out of many, that shows a male goldfinch in flight with considerably less blur than your photo. It was taken by Graham Owen and is displayed at ""


So, as an unskilled photographer myself, I am left to ponder how could anyone produce a shot of a goldfinch in flight with clear wings, all of the body visible, and properly exposed? Since you say any higher shutter speed would indeed freeze the wing movements but would leave the photo too dark to see, pray tell how are dozens upon dozens of other photographers achieving this impossible shot? Surely none of them used a higher shutter speed setting like I suggested!! Heaven forbid that they might not follow your "one true path" to photo success with flying goldfinches!

Since I know your ability is second to none, the only logical answer to how others are posting clearer, more well defined, and better composed photos of flying goldfinches than yours is that all these photos on the internet must be photoshopped fakes. Yeah, that has to be the answer because there certainly would not be anyone out there daring to set up the photo equipment differently, (say closer to the birds instead of using a zoom lens,) using different cameras, lenses, filters, tripods, and remote shutter devices, and trying different settings in order to produce even better results than you did. Nope, that just could not happen, I know. Has to be photoshop because your photos are the best!!

Keep up the good work and have a nice day!

Re: Couple of Goldfinches

PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2011 5:38 pm
by Ironwood
Fire Cloud, Yes I've been taking photo for 61 years. In 4 more days I'll be 74 years old. I've never said I was a super duper photographer. Never did I say my Goldfinch photo was even good. Never have I until today criticized your photos. And that was only after you so much as told me I didn't know what I was talking about.

All your babbling about the courses you've taken an the studying you've done only proves the old adage, You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink.

Now this is the last I'm going to say on this subject. You may reply if you want but I'll not look at your reply. I will not read any of your post or look at any of the photos that you post. You started this so be man enough to let it go.