Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Read. The. Instructions.

Or at least take notice of what you read!

We spent Sunday at Fingringhoe Wick, an Essex Wildlife Trust nature reserve on the Colne estuary near Colchester. Lovely, springlike day and ideal for bird photography with my new Sigma 135-400mm (bought in December, but haven't been able to use it because of vile weather and falling downstairs - the latter a topic for another post).

Carried away with enthusiasm, I clicked away merrily with the lens at f5.6 and 400mm, varying the FL a bit to shoot things a bit bigger than the curlews, oystercatchers, redshanks, various geese and other birds zooming about.

Result, when I processed the results in Lightroom yesterday, major disappointment! All the images were softer than I would have liked, despite trying various software tweaks, including running through some software I'm trying called "Focus Magic". It was only later that I recalled reading advice about the 135-400mm, suggesting that it had to be used stopped down to around f8 at full zoom. B****r! A traditional case of letting excitement using a new toy get in the way of trying to obtain the best possible images. What is particularly irritating is that I actually had enough light to stop down to f8 and still keep a realistic shutter speed and ISO, especially as the lens was mostly supported on a bean bag perched on a sandwich box or the hide window.

The end result is that although we had a pleasant day's birdwatching, seeing around 30 species, most of my images are pretty rubbish. I haven't had time to look through the others yet, but I suspect the others will suffer as the above has. I suppose that I've learned a valuable lesson, but I should have remembered what I read!

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