02-19-2018 10:32 AM - edited 02-19-2018 10:33 AM
"When you zoom in on the deer I captured from about 300 yards for instance, the fur is just aweful looking."
As distance increases, the lens resolving power decreases. You need to get closer. 300 yards is not just too far, it is way too far away.
This photo is with a 300mm lens at about 20 feet. Getting closerer is better than getting a better lens. Also shot in Kansas!
02-19-2018 10:37 AM - edited 02-19-2018 10:39 AM
Wildlife with poor lighting conditions is demanding of equipment. You need a decently fast long telephoto and even then it is going to require a fairly high iso. I assume you were shooting with the 70-200 and at 300 yards the deer would have been a small "blip" on the sensor compared to the overall frame size so resoloution would be fairly poor even if you could use a lower ISO. Good photos of deer from 300 yards is going to take a very long telephoto or otherwise you are cropping so small that you will reveal the detail that wasn't captured in the first place.
Unfortunately those sorts of lenses (like the 300 and 400 f2.8 primes) are hyper expensive and out of the reach of us mere hobbyists so patience and getting as close as possible are the keys. And even with the Canon "bazooka" lenses 300 yards is way too far for great images that will stand being blown up to large size unless the background is a key feature of the image.
And what you need are cooperative deer like the doe below This image was taken near sunrise on a cloudy morning in the Smoky mountains a few years ago when my daughter and I were hiking to Rocky Top and the deer were willing to share the trail but just barely. It was taken with my 1DM2 and the 70-200 2.8 at the full tele end and the deer fills about half of the frame so I was pretty close. It would have been better had I had the 1.4X mounted with the lens at the time.
02-19-2018 10:45 AM - edited 02-19-2018 11:26 AM
Thanks and I love the squirrel. Being in the right place at the right time is critical and even then the best shots are lost to lack of preparation.
When my daughter was 4 we were spending some time in Coloroado and we were leaving Estes Park at the crack of dawn to head downstate. Anna was in her child seat in the back of the pickup and the window was down because it was a beautiful morning. We were stopped at a light just on the edge of town when a moose ambled up and stuck his nose through her open window to look around. Unfortunately my camera wasn't where I coudl grab it and I was more worried about an upset moose anyway at that point but he observed smiling Anna for a few moments and then ambled along his way. It could have been a great photo.
And on edit below is a more typical exposure where it could have been a nice keeper but operator error completely ruined the opportunity:
1. I could have gotten a little closer without spooking this guy.
2. I didn't put the focus point where it should have been, PURE stupidity on my part.
3. Exposure settings weren't optimal, I should have dialed in a higher ISO and faster shutter speed.
Bottom line is there is no good excuse for this sort of missed opportunity and it was purely due to lack of mental focus on my part. And I couldn't blame my daughter for this because she had just turned 9 and didn't require close watching when this was taken in the Fall of 2012 at a stream in the Smokies. 3 years earlier I ended up with mediocre images of a bear and a rattlesnake but Anna was 6 at the time and on her first real hike (just over 5 miles total) so I had to concentrate on her rather than photo ops. But it was a very memorable hike for her seeing a bear and two snakes, the rattle snake forced us to extend the hike by another mile since we had to back track and take a different route to the trailhead. The snake wasn't willing to move and a detour around him would have been a very bad idea given the heavy ground cover with more of his friends likely hanging out.
When I was three I picked up a rattlesnake and carried it around the yard for about 10 minutes before my parents convinced me to put my new pet back on the ground. My mother told me later I kept petting its head and for some reason they didn't have the presence of mind to take photos of this experience. I expect I took a few years off of their lives. And the only snakes I pick up now are garter snakes that get in the way of the tractor when I am mowing
02-19-2018 11:25 AM - edited 02-19-2018 11:25 AM
Lovely shot of Mr. Burro! See my comments in my edited reply above of my more typical wildlife outcomes.
02-19-2018 01:07 PM - edited 02-19-2018 01:09 PM
Here is another that had potential but the camera person didn't take full advantage of the situation. This four legged native wasn't familiar with the rules of the road and created a traffic jam cruising in the wrong lane of Trail Ridge Road in the CO Rockies. I was trapped too far back in the traffic and my daughter was too young to leave by herself in the pickup so I took the best opportunity I had leaning out the open door of my pickup. The optimal spot didn't exist because it would have been hanging out in space over the far edge of the road but I certainly could have positioned myself better. Too far away and I could have gotten a better lighting angle had changed my position a bit. And every time I see those edge marker poles it makes me very happy that I am not a snow plow operator on this high mountain road!
This is very much like when I was coaching the young kids playing soccer that the perfect scoring opportunity almost never occurs but good opportunities do occur and you kids have to learn when you are in the right place in the zone between not-reasonable and perfect. Human tendency is to either shoot too soon wasting the effort of having moved the ball down the field or waiting for an opportunity that never arrives and again wasting the effort. The same is true of both soccer and photography. And it is far easier to coach this important bit of behavior than it is to put this into practice
Too bad I have far more bad examples than good but learning is lifelong.
02-19-2018 01:30 PM - edited 02-19-2018 01:32 PM
My poor Trail Ridge road shot is a perfect example of why having enough focal length AND getting as close as possible is critical. The crop below is the part of the image that covered about 20% of the sensor; had I been closer there would have been some really nice detail in this view.
The subject stayed in this postion for close to a minute and had I used some of that time to improve my postion and setup it would have been a much better shot. One of the most difficult things I have had to learn is being willing to miss some opportunities in order to get the most out of the situation. It does mean you will completely miss some photo opportunities but it will also increase the odds of acquiring some really nice images; being patient and putting some thought into the situation means you are now relying more upon thought and skill and less upon pure luck.