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Diana's Woodpecker

Comments on BIRDS IN THE GARDEN Challenge!

Members keep practising their skills as the lockdown continues
It has been another week of isolation, tinged with very sad news, and continuing difficulty for so many friends and family, that I know are in all our thoughts. I hope that you found this week's BLOG of interest- I plan to do one every Wednesday so watch out for those. As for the CHALLENGES.... my original idea was to keep 2 Galleries current and delete the older ones once comments had been made and read. We do have a limit to the number of images we can have on the site. However, I now think I shall keep 4 weeks worth up on the website at any one time. I have consequently done my annual "cull" of older images on the web and deleted things from before September 2018

If, like me you reach for your camera to occupy the hours, as members you seem to be enjoying the challenges. There is certainly lots to comment on in the latest gallery, as some members are sending more than others! From now, I shall limit it to three per challenge. So hold onto all your photos till you can choose your best 3 and make sure they are in by Thursday deadline! Diana has been busy renovating the furniture in her garden, but has agreed to add her comments to our images this week, and she has posted two herself for us to enjoy.

I must say I found the tiny twittery things a huge challenge, but I kept practising and kept playing with my settings and I think I got better I certainly know my camera better now. I apologise for putting two pictures of Mallards in as they were not in my garden (although we often get a Pheasant) but round the village pond where I walked in search of a Kingfisher who did not appear. Having taken the fairly easy shots of these beautiful birds many times, I really felt that the results on this occasion were down to all the practice this week so hence I did include them but it was a bit of a cheat!

Please send your comments via CONTACT US and I shall endeavour to post as they come in I will start the ball rolling:

Jenny says:

Graham: I like your many pictures this week! I think the Wood Pigeon has good catchlight in the eye but the perch is sharper than the bird- maybe increase DOF or look at your focus point settings. The Goldfinch is nice and sharp on wings and tail but not on the beak Again , maybe increase DOF? I do like the Blackbird for focus and catch light though and wondered how it might be possible to get a bit more separation from the background. The Jackdaw is interesting because I cannot actually see anything in sharp focus and wonder if it is simply camera shake? Thanks for alll your enthusiasm!

Jane R: I know you had problems as there were very few birds in your garden this week so well done for these! I think that catching the action and getting the wings showing motion is what you have managed . I wonder if a bit of post processing cropping would make the compositions better ie the bird not flying OUT of the pic ? Just a thought.

Pamela: I like how natural the Cock Sparrow is on the bush, the catchlight in the eye and the definition in the feathers. The cloudy sky is nice too. The Woodpecker shot is my favourite, as the other one is nice and sharp but looks like you pressed the shutter marginally too late, and the bird on the right had decided to leave! Feeder is nicely on rule of thirds. Woodpecker focused well and the eye is sharp too. Bird behind is a bit distracting, but I wouldn't know how to get rid of it!!

Jill: Sooo many birds in your garden!! Glad you got to use the 400 lens with the new camera! I like the sharp focus on the male Greenfinch and also on the Woodpigeon but wondered if he might be better slightly separated from the background? The male Blackbird is my favourite because he is more separated (cf with female Blackbird too) and also in focus well. I like the slightly diagonal feel to the paving.

Janice: What can I say ? Humour will out! I gather there were no live ones so you thought outside the box! Plenty of time to blur the background and keep sharp I see!

Rex: So pleased to see the Jay ! Not focused as well as the other two though but I love the blue. I do love how you captured Birds 2- the composition and its pose is brilliant and the red berry a real bonus . Again, not too sharp but a very challenging moment! I like the wing movement with the Robin, as the rest of the body is pretty sharp How did you do that?

Tony: I like the fact the Pigeon is heading towards you and its eye is really in focus as is most of its body- no mean feat for a fat bird . Just wondered if composition would be better if you had cropped it to place it slightly more to the left? What do you think? The second photo catches the bird hovering well with the wing movement. The feeder cage is sharp, the bird less so, but the diagonal stick is a good idea.

Geoff: Just the one from you this week (Thursday deadline really but hey!) Like the fact you got one in Nicely in the frame on the nest giving you the eye! keep them coming is there a way Suzanne can get any to us with the clamp down??

Jane L Thanks for sending these in if a little late ! I also did the title and resized for you so take a look at the instructions again for next time! I think you have cracked the focusing well. All three are sharp Blue Tit 1 is a great composition with good focus and catchlight and I like the diagonal placement of the perch. 2 is a little bit dark around the eye and no catch light but I do like the square crop. The Coaltit is nicely composed and well focused I might have cloned out the twig in front which is a bit distracting Don't forget to send comments on this Challenge sometime this week.

Pamela says:

Pamela on Pamela I was interested in Jenny's comment on pressing the shutter too late. I put this one in although I do have some with both birds feeding. I thought this was more interesting. I wonder what others think? Woodpecker. I again decided to enter the one with the bird behind and have the woodpecker looking up, rather than feeding. I will look at my other photos again. Feedback for me is important. Thanks!

Jenny. Better focus. I like the background and the vignetting. It shows the birds off well with no distractions.
The mallard is a great photo and so sharp. You're right, he's handsome and his female friend is beautiful
No catchlight. Lovely bird. Yes, pity about the catchlight as then it would be really good.

Graham. The pigeon looks like a bird with attitude and so well caught. I find the light bits of wood a bit distracting as well as the wood in the top right hand corner.
Chaffinch I love the little bird but, for me, the green wire takes my eye away from the bird.
Blackbird. This is my favourite. The lines lead the eye to the bird which is clearly defined with no distractions.
Goldfinch and Jackdaw are not quite sharp enough.
Robin. I would like this without the green in the lower left corner. The rest adds atmosphere.

Jane R. I don't mind the fact that the bird is flying out of the picture but it's a shame it's not a bit sharper and that there is a pole behind its wing.
In flight. I like the bird flying away but it's a pity it's not flying towards the camera. Call the bird back for another shot!
Perched. For me, the bird facing the other way is telling story. I want to know what the bird is looking at. I like it.
Strolling. Not very sharp and I find the green on the left distracting.

Jill. Greenfinch. I like this and I think the wood behind adds to the picture. Enough blur but still there.
Sparrow. I prefer the greenfinch.
I like the others but the male blackbird is, for me, the best as it really stands out.

Rex. Happy bird with his berry! Pity it's not sharper as it's nice to see a photo with something colourful in the bird's beak.
Lucky you to get a jay and also stuffing its little face. Pity it's not sharper.
Robin. I think this is the best as it is more in focus and I like the composition and the positioning of the bird.

Tony. This is a bird on the mission and I think you have captured its personality. Is it too close to the background?
Robin. I like the bird in action but it's pity its the feeder that has the better background.

Diana. What can I say! A brilliant photo and so sharp.
Woodpecker ditto! Brilliant.

Geoff. Another pigeon with attitude. I actually think it's the same pigeon on loan from a model agency. Good composition.

Jane L. Coaltit. I love the bird's expression and there is a little light in the eye. I think the composition works well.
Blue tit 1 Lovely little bird but is it sharp? My eye goes to the buds on the right which are sharp.
Blue tit 2. This is sharper than the tit 1 but the branch is again sharper here than the bird but I do like the composition.

Janice. A 'real live' bird modelling so well. How did you do it???

Diana says : I agree with most of what has already been said so far. It is great to see that most of the birds have a catch light which is so important and the eyes are sharp. If you find that you are not getting that catchlight, then use a flash on low power so that it does not alter your exposure but will add the catchlight. Some of the pictures taken at a bird feeder had something in the background that was a distraction. If you are going to take more birds at the feeder then think about what is in the way and if possible take it out or hide it. I have been known to go out with my secateurs and do a bit of gardening, if something is continually getting in the way between me and the feeder or move the feeder. I also use a long lens to try and blur the background

Jane R says : Jenny, I love your Handsome chap, lovely colour green on the head.
Pamela, Lovely cock sparrow, background nicely out of focus. Beautifully sharp woodpecker.
Jill, your male greenfinch looks like he is telling someone off! Lovely shot. The female is much more composed.
Graham, lovely robin, need to do a bit of pruning so you don't catch the leaves in front! lovely chaffinch2 and a catch light!!
Rex, Your birds do like the red berries. I haven't seen any Jays in my garden for a long time, lucky you.
Janice, good one, I think they are the best ones!!
Jane, I like your blue tit nice defused background.
Tony, you obviously feed your birds too well, very chubby pigeon. I liked your robin not easy getting birds in flight is it?
Geoff, you must have been very quiet not to frighten her away, love your framing .

Janice says: Well done everyone, a great set of images. Makes a note to myself ... must try harder!!!
Jenny- both portraits are stunning. I like how they fill the frame. Lovely detail and colour.
Graham- Chaffinch 2, good timing capturing the seed in it's beak.
Jane R- well done capturing birds in flight. Like the movement in the wings.
Pamela- Gorgeous light in the Cock Sparrow image. Lovely catch light in the Woodpecker.
Jill- I enjoyed all these images, my favourite being the female blackbird. Nice to see the garden in the background.
Jane L- Considering how small these birds are these images are so sharp. I love Bluetit 1
Rex- You have captured the robin well with the movement in the wings. Nice out of focus background.
Tony- An action shot, good timing.
Diana- Wonderful images, pin sharp.
Geoff- Whilst the foreground is a bit distracting I do like how the pigeon looks very peaceful.

Jill says: The real challenge is to get the birds sharp and a lot of them are a bit soft. Diana'a and Pamela's woodpeckers are excellent examples of how they should be. It isn't easy as they are so quick! Getting a catchlight is a bonus. Practice makes perfect, I guess - keep trying!

Jane Lewis says : A plethora of images to enjoy so I’m going for a “mentioned in despatches” approach: I liked Rex’s nuthatch for the nut in beak capture, Pamela’s cock sparrow for its sharpness and slightly below horizontal viewpoint, Tony’s hovering robin action shot and Diana’s woodpecker in a more unusual pose.