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Britt Griswold <[log in to unmask]>
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SciArt-L Discussion List-for Natural Science Illustration- <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 6 Aug 2008 01:06:34 -0400
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A tripod is just as important to sharpness as the lens and closeness. But if you have a camera with an Optical image stabilization system, that is good for an additional 2 f stops or 2 steps of shutter speed.  Canon is well know for their IS technology. Here is some background:

The ability to increase your shutter speed would be a major help with moving bat wings.  But I have never seen a sharp bat wing on the move that did not include a lot of Flash illumination...  You will need to lure them closer with a stone tied into a handkerchief. They will follow it down to the ground, thinking it is a large moth. But the odds of getting it in frame are lower as they fill more of the frame, they are always on the move.  The best bat pictures involve luring the animal into a area set up for photography with Flash units that can pump out the light and motion sensors to trigger it, so you can use high shutter speeds.

Merlin tuttle is the ultimate expert in this field:

Perhaps his online photo gallery has the species you are interested in.  And while these images are not free (proceeds for their use in publication go to Bat conservation), they may may give you the kind of detail you need to create your on pose based upon some of your own( blurrier) photos.



Your post was very helpful.  It sounds like what you're saying is that if you 
were to photograph bats, which are about the same size as the small birds you 
refer to, you would use the 400mm lens?  I used a 70-300mm zoom but it just 
wasn't close enough.  The bats were about 40' overhead.  

I'm not much of a person to take classes, generally just like to learn by 
doing.  I've bought a few books.  A lot of what most photographers need is not 
applicable to me.  I'm not looking for the photographs to be the end product.  
I want to use the photographs as references for illustrations. So it's 
immaterial to me whether the background is in focus or fuzzed out if the thing 
I'm trying to capture is the veining in the wings of a dragonfly.  The rule of 
thirds, bokeh, and a lot of the other terms aren't applicable.  I'm wondering 
if it's better for me to spend my $ on a telephoto lens than a better tripod, 
for example.  I don't want sharpness in the photos as much as I want close-in 
detail (or are they really one and the same?)


  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Bruce Bartrug 
  To: [log in to unmask] 
  Sent: Thursday, July 31, 2008 9:33 PM
  Subject: Re: [SCIART] TAN: recovered terns

  ...But knowing how to get close enough to the birds one wants to photograph 
is the key to getting good photos of any bird, including flying terns.  Robert 
Capa's imperative to struggling war photographers -- "If your photos aren't 
good, you're not close enough" -- also applies to wildlife photography in 
general, but especially birds in particular, as they are quite small animals.  
I have a 400mm lens that I've mostly used from blinds to get within the 10 to 
15 feet one needs to get decent photos of smaller birds.  In this particular 
case I noticed a whirl of terns at a certain juncture along a rock jetty, one 
that occurred about an hour before high tide in the mouth of a tidal river.  At 
this time in the tide cycle, bait fish are periodically forced to the surface, 
either by larger fish (mackeral, bluefish, striped bass?) or by the currents.  
This lasts about an hour, and during this time I could stand on the top of the 
jetty and take photos of the birds as they glided along waiting for the fish to 
resurface, or whirled and dived on a school of hapless minnow-sized fish.  So I 
was usually about 30 feet to 30 meters from the bird I was photographing...