Canada Geese in flight.
Shot using high ISO to keep the shutter speed up, using a 300mm zoom.

Using High ISO

It is one thing to read all about the use of high ISO, but another to actually go and try it. These flying gees shots were taken at 3200 ISO with a Canon EOS 60D, f/6.3, 1/664s (from the EXIF). The lens used was a Sigma 70-300mm f/4 – 5.6 APO zoom at 238mm.

Put simply the shot is basically not useable. The black and white version is not too bad, but it took some heavy RAW processing to get the ISO noise out and make the picture barely presentable. Here’s the colour version.

On the face of it, this bears out the usual lessons about keeping ISO as low as possible.

In fact, this was deliberate on my part. Our local, very pretty, lake is in a position where trees and the ground block much of the golden hour. At this time of year that is exactly the time when the geese fly. So I took the chance, and the opportunity to push the limits on my camera gear, and grabbed the shot.

Action captured in kick boxing, using high ISO in artificial light, using a fast lens.

All good. Now look at this shot from my “Action – Kickboxing” post earlier in the year. Again this was taken at high ISO,  1600 to be exact, 1/250s, on the same camera. These photos were taken in a gymnasium under artificial light. The shutter speed was necessary to freeze most of the action but still allow some motion blur. There is nothing like the same issue with ISO noise. So what is the issue? in my view the step from 1600 ISO to 3200 ISO doesn’t explain it.

The answer, of course, lies largely in the lens. The kickboxing shot was taken with the notably sharp Sigma 17 – 50mm EX f/2.8 lens. In comparison the Sigma 70 – 300 performance drops off substantially after about 200mm. As it is not an image stabilised lens, a lower shutter speed, and possibly lower ISO was not an option. Arguably, a better quality lens, in this case, even a 70-200 EF L lens would have resulted in a more usable image.

On the other hand, I got the shot! The real lesson is to know and understand your camera gear as a system. High ISO with one of my lenses resulted in a set of interesting and useful pictures. With a different lens, I caught the action, but at poor quality. Something to note and remember next time! Work your equipment and learn from that!

A pair of Canada geese on the lake.

Spring is Here?

A pair of Canada geese on the lake. Spring is nearly here.

So it has been a weird winter. Stormy, windy and wet, and very unpleasant for those who were flooded, it is the first winter since I have lived in the UK in which I haven’t seen snow. But the days are getting longer and I see new leaves on some of the plants. Is Spring here?

Down at the lake the ducks are starting to pair up and fight, and the Canada geese are coming out of hiding and floating serenely around the lake. I spotted the Canada geese in the picture, with one looking as if he is admiring his reflection. I thought it made a good black and white picture.

If Spring isn’t here, it’s not far away.

Canada Geese taking off in a blur of feathers.

In a Blur of Feathers

Canada Geese taking off in a blur of feathers.

© 2013 / Jeremy Hayden Photography.
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Canada Geese In a Blur of Feathers

Every evening, at this time of year, the flocks of Canada geese on our local lake gradually move away from their normal island roost. As the, I guess, 60 or 70 geese congregate at the end of the lake there is the usual honking and squabbling amongst the different families.
Suddenly, as if at a signal, a group will take off and fly to the island at low level.
Here’s a picture of them launching towards the island.
This behaviour is amazing to watch. It is even harder to photograph, as the weather is typically overcast and the light is not great for catching sudden fast movement. So here’s one attempt. No doubt there will be more.
From a personal point of view this picture is a matter of pushing some boundaries. Firstly taking the picture at the limits of the light and camera capabilities. Secondly turning a somewhat blurred result into something interesting in software.
Getting this one right is a matter of knowledge of the behaviour of the animals and their environment, alongside an understanding of the effect of the weather on the light in the creatures’ location. As always the photography is a matter of “right place, right time”, but it helps to be able to plan that and not leave it to chance.

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In a Blur of Feathers - Canada Geese Fine Art Photography


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