Photographic technique

Photographic technique

Postby frank on Mon 27 May 2019, 4:47 pm

I use a Canon 7D and Canon 100-400mm lens.

I have noticed that when taking shots of aircraft approaching me I have a tendency to end up with a soft focus. I have tried increasing the shutter speed, changing the aperature to increase DOP but still have this problem. To be honest it has been an issue for many years.
I know it`s not a panning problem as when they come "sideways" or move away from me the photos are pretty sharp.
Has anyone else suffered with this and how did you overcome it.
Its not disasterous but still annoying.
frank

Re: Photographic technique

Postby HeyfordDave111 on Mon 27 May 2019, 5:52 pm

Hi Frank,

what settings do you have your focus on?
on most Canon of 2 or single digits (i dont know about triple digit models) you can go into your settings on your screen and change the focussing to AI, this will, if you have a centre spot selected on your focus area keep it in focus even though the aircraft is moving towards you, therefore needing to refocus continuously.

I would also recommend 'back button' focus.

There are some good 'you tube' bits on photographing birds in flight which might also help with those settings.

i'm sure others here can help further and will be along shortly.
cheers
Dave
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HeyfordDave111

Re: Photographic technique

Postby boff180 on Mon 27 May 2019, 6:18 pm

Agreed, dynamic (on a Nikon) or AI (on a Canon) autofocus should help. It predicts what your locked subject is going to do and constantly adjusts the focus.

I'd also calibrate the autofocus on the body to the lens if possible (it is on a Nikon) just in case there are some front/back focus accuracy issues.

Andy
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Re: Photographic technique

Postby neville on Mon 27 May 2019, 8:19 pm

I find back button focus is the way to go with Canon, it works really well for me..
neville

Re: Photographic technique

Postby frank on Mon 27 May 2019, 8:42 pm

I normally use AI servo with either Av or Tv - Tv normally at 1/1000 for jets and ISO 100 to 250 depending on light levels with centre focus.
Haven`t used back button focus - will look into that

many thanks
frank

Re: Photographic technique

Postby DaveBr on Tue 28 May 2019, 8:12 am

I know lots of people love back button focus. I didn't get on with it at all though and had a pretty much wasted summer of photography as a result.

Just posting in the interest of balance - you have to find what works for you, not what works for everyone else.
DaveBr

Re: Photographic technique

Postby neville on Tue 28 May 2019, 9:41 am

True, very true, i do have to say as someone who was bought up with film, digital photography seems to have a lot more variables to contend with in comparison.

When i converted from film i suspect like many others i only saw the obvious saving in film and associated processing costs and not the learning curve of what
in essence is doing your own processing.

Having said all that i only go back to film occasionlly for use with my 6x7 set up, i love using both mediums.
neville

Re: Photographic technique

Postby HeyfordDave111 on Tue 28 May 2019, 9:57 am

frank wrote:I normally use AI servo with either Av or Tv - Tv normally at 1/1000 for jets and ISO 100 to 250 depending on light levels with centre focus.
Haven`t used back button focus - will look into that

many thanks


Hi Frank,

all looks good except your shutter speed to be honest.
Not sure a jet travelling at 500 knots towards you will be in focus for more than a micro second, and by the time the mirror has raised, and dropped it has moved on.... hence the lack of sharpness .

Also bear in mind (and this is as far as i know and am totally willing to be poo poo'd) that using the standard way of taking pics, using the shutter for focus and snapping, you will have this problem.

I shoot in the loop fast jets at 1400+ and i use the back focus button purely because i can keep it pressed and it will continue to focus, whereas (and this is where i'm probably wrong, but i like my way now anyway) focusing on the shutter button, then pressing to still have to get the shutter button back to focus pressure immediately, whereas on back focus, press it and keep it pressed, leaving your finger free to just press the shutter.
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HeyfordDave111

Re: Photographic technique

Postby frank on Tue 28 May 2019, 4:30 pm

Now that is a good explanation - will reread this again a few times and give it a go. Need practice before RIAT.

:clap: :clap:
frank

Re: Photographic technique

Postby Wrexham Mackem on Tue 28 May 2019, 4:36 pm

.. focusing on the shutter button, then pressing to still have to get the shutter button back to focus pressure immediately, whereas on back focus, press it and keep it pressed, leaving your finger free to just press the shutter.


I'm not sure I understand. If your focusing mode is set to servo your autofocus will stay active and track the subject as long as your shutter release is at half pressure. What does back focus do that's different? you'd need to operate two digits instead of one?
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Re: Photographic technique

Postby HeyfordDave111 on Tue 28 May 2019, 6:21 pm

Wrexham Mackem wrote:
.. focusing on the shutter button, then pressing to still have to get the shutter button back to focus pressure immediately, whereas on back focus, press it and keep it pressed, leaving your finger free to just press the shutter.


I'm not sure I understand. If your focusing mode is set to servo your autofocus will stay active and track the subject as long as your shutter release is at half pressure. What does back focus do that's different? you'd need to operate two digits instead of one?


Hi mate,

Just my opinion you understand but i find it easier keeping my thumb on the back focus button, using my forefinger to just operate the shutter.
so to me, it means that the autofocus is working full time, without the possible i interruption of possibly releasing pressure on the shutter/focus combo button.

This works for me 'machine gunning' or just a quick batch of 3 snaps.
Got to love Russianhardware
HeyfordDave111

Re: Photographic technique

Postby phreakf4 on Tue 28 May 2019, 7:52 pm

Wrexham Mackem wrote:
.. focusing on the shutter button, then pressing to still have to get the shutter button back to focus pressure immediately, whereas on back focus, press it and keep it pressed, leaving your finger free to just press the shutter.


I'm not sure I understand. If your focusing mode is set to servo your autofocus will stay active and track the subject as long as your shutter release is at half pressure. What does back focus do that's different? you'd need to operate two digits instead of one?


This will be quite a long and involved explanation but nevertheless may clarify this. Note that all this refers to the Pentax bodies which I use and therefore may or may not have equivalents in Cano, Nikon, Sony etc..

First, on Pentax bodies (as I believe on most) it is possible to separate the focus and shutter functions so that pressing the shutter button does not activate the AF. It is also possible to select the back button to either enable or disable the AF.

It should also be noted that although my primary camera body has 27 focus points available, I only use the centre one.

When using "continuous" (burst) mode on the shutter it is also possible to select between "shutter priority" mode (not to be confused with shutter priority exposure control) or "focus priority" mode, the difference being that in the "focus priority" mode the camera will attempt to refocus between each firing of the shutter which has the secondary effect of slowing the frames-per-second rate whereas in "shutter priority" mode the camera will lock focus on the first shutter activation and will not attempt to re-focus until the shutter has stopped thus allowing the maximum possible frame rate which in my case (with a suitably high shutter speed) is about 8.3 frames per second.

Thus my technique varies depending on the nature of the shot. I always use back button set to enable AF and usually have AF priority selected. So, when shooting a relatively slow moving (or static) subject I will frame the shot, press the back button to activate AF, wait for an AF lock confirmation and, whilst still holding the back button, squeeze the shutter.

In another situation, for example shooting a formation, I will frame the shot while holding the back button, achieve focus on one element of the formation, then release the back button to de-activate AF , re-frame to include as much (or as little) of the formation as I wish and then squeeze the shutter. This can also work with landscapes, portraits etc, allowing me to select which area of the image will be in sharpest focus.

Variations of this technique are used in different situations, for example at nightshoots I almost always use manual focussing.

I should perhaps point out that I do not use long "bursts" but usually fire 3 to 4 frames in the hope (not always realised) that the middle shot will be the sharpest.
nothing is confirmed at a show until it's u/c hits the tarmac or it's running in for it's display.....
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Re: Photographic technique

Postby boff180 on Tue 28 May 2019, 8:53 pm

The big advantage of back button focus is exposure.

If the focus is being activated via the shutter, if you are trying to meter a shot as part of the composition (the meter is triggered via half press of the shutter too), every time you make an adjustment you are also refocusing the shot.

Back focus allows you to lock focus then adjust the exposure to attain the composition you require.
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Re: Photographic technique

Postby phreakf4 on Tue 28 May 2019, 9:08 pm

boff180 wrote:The big advantage of back button focus is exposure.

If the focus is being activated via the shutter, if you are trying to meter a shot as part of the composition (the meter is triggered via half press of the shutter too), every time you make an adjustment you are also refocusing the shot.


Not if (as I do) one mostly uses manual exposure control which means that, yes, a half-press will activate the meter, but it won't change the exposure, just the over/under exposure indicator in the viewfinder, which (I find) is pretty much irrelevant for flying shots.
nothing is confirmed at a show until it's u/c hits the tarmac or it's running in for it's display.....
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Re: Photographic technique

Postby wallace on Wed 29 May 2019, 7:59 am

One other factor would be to check the calibration of your lens. I done this to mine and it did make a difference. The method that I used is called Dot Tune.
https://youtu.be/7zE50jCUPhM
(I did not use a special calibration target, with the 400mm lens you need something, if I mind right 20m away. In the end I used a road sign and hedge for the fine detail.)

Certainly having the AF modes and sensors tuned to suit moving aircraft helps.
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Re: Photographic technique

Postby AlexC on Wed 29 May 2019, 11:08 am

neville wrote:I find back button focus is the way to go with Canon, it works really well for me..


Back button is second-nature to me now, with Nikon in my case.
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Re: Photographic technique

Postby Sabrina on Fri 26 Jul 2019, 10:45 pm

frank wrote:I use a Canon 7D and Canon 100-400mm lens.

I have noticed that when taking shots of aircraft approaching me I have a tendency to end up with a soft focus. I have tried increasing the shutter speed, changing the aperature to increase DOP but still have this problem. To be honest it has been an issue for many years.
I know it`s not a panning problem as when they come "sideways" or move away from me the photos are pretty sharp.
Has anyone else suffered with this and how did you overcome it.
Its not disasterous but still annoying.


I could have written this post myself given how closely it reflects my own situation.

I have a (very) decent set-up (D500 + Nikon 200-500mm).

And although totally in the "enthusiastic amateur" envelope, I can see a real sense of progression in terms of the photo's that I am taking.

And yet the one aspect that continues to elude me is capturing, in focus, the "head-on" fast jet.

I have adopted BBF and having adjusted wouldn't go back. But despite typically dialling-up the shutter speed to around 1250 I come back from RIAT frustrated at the quality of what are well composed images but woefully (depressingly) lacking clarity and focus.

Can the super talented people who post some amazing images on this forum and have managed to crack this problem share some hints and tips as to how people like myself can improve?
Sabrina

Re: Photographic technique

Postby IATthenRIAT on Sat 27 Jul 2019, 4:22 am

Sabrina wrote:
frank wrote:I use a Canon 7D and Canon 100-400mm lens.

I have noticed that when taking shots of aircraft approaching me I have a tendency to end up with a soft focus. I have tried increasing the shutter speed, changing the aperature to increase DOP but still have this problem. To be honest it has been an issue for many years.
I know it`s not a panning problem as when they come "sideways" or move away from me the photos are pretty sharp.
Has anyone else suffered with this and how did you overcome it.
Its not disasterous but still annoying.


I could have written this post myself given how closely it reflects my own situation.

I have a (very) decent set-up (D500 + Nikon 200-500mm).

And although totally in the "enthusiastic amateur" envelope, I can see a real sense of progression in terms of the photo's that I am taking.

And yet the one aspect that continues to elude me is capturing, in focus, the "head-on" fast jet.

I have adopted BBF and having adjusted wouldn't go back. But despite typically dialling-up the shutter speed to around 1250 I come back from RIAT frustrated at the quality of what are well composed images but woefully (depressingly) lacking clarity and focus.

Can the super talented people who post some amazing images on this forum and have managed to crack this problem share some hints and tips as to how people like myself can improve?


I understand that aswel my airshow experience was the first using digital inside an airshow, all my statics are superbly in focus and bags of IQ at the slight expense of some weird cropping to avoid the public, but I too have come away really sad at the quality of my display shots from what should be a decent set up - Nikon D7200 and AF-P FX 70-300 F5.6 (known for its sharpness and very good VR)
When I was last at RIAT i was outside the show at Townsend and the display shots were a million times better using inferior gear to what I have now - cant get my head round it.

This year I upped my game pushing the s speed to 1/2000sec and opened up my aperture abit to f6.3 and left the ISO do its own thing in Auto, I shoot in manual exposure but dialed in + 2/3 to help lift the shadows and help the noise.

But alas it didn't make much difference not the best flying shots.
IATthenRIAT

Re: Photographic technique

Postby IATthenRIAT on Sat 27 Jul 2019, 4:33 am

It also doesn't help how far away the flying is from the croud line - I dont think at RIAT they were using the center line of the runway as a reference for displaying, I saw a few videos from the cockpits of the lancaster and one of the blades when in fly by mode with the A400M, and they were flying between the north taxiway and the hangers - not along the runway center.
Guess this doesn't help if all you have is a 300mm on a crop body.
IATthenRIAT

Re: Photographic technique

Postby Berf on Sat 27 Jul 2019, 8:16 am

1. A Canon 7D is not as good a camera as the very best can produce nowadays and many of the best shots you will see be will be from one of those better cameras. I have a 7Dmk2 and I don't think much of it. I also use a 5DS (which is normally for very high detail non moving images and has been said to 'never be used without a tripod) which is unsurpassed for a very small number of images but I know that will be the case. I previously used a 1D Mk3 which was great at the time but outdated now. But whatever camera you have 2-3-4-5 apply.

2. Practice - people think you can pick up a decent camera and take great pictures without practice - well most people can't and need practice.

3. You only see the very best shots that people put up - they too are likely to have hundreds or thousands that are not up to it.

4. Post processing - if you are not into it you will not get the type of results you may term as being the best

5. Weather - heat and haze not seen by the human eye as a massive effect on images particularly like the head on shots mentioned - in the Uk the pollen, heat, haze, dust (even if it is not sunny) plays a major part - pictures are often better after a sudden rainfall for example. This is why many shots particularly when enlarged are soft. Dehaze in LR or PS can help but there is no substitute for great light and clear air. Sharpening is merely sharpening the haze!

For IATRIAT - letting the ISO do its own thing and sticking to 2000 is inviting noise. By having such a fast shutter speed you are increasing the noise in the auto ISO. Your trade off is not working. More practice will give you a better chance of being able to reduce the shutter speed and the ISO and less noise. While we all want sharp pictures there is a trade off on noise and you also have to take into account technique. For me I don't go above 400. If I can't get a picture in a normal pass at 1/800 to around 1/1250 then it's my ability that's at fault. (and that happens a lot!) Sometimes you just have to accept the conditions-and one's own technique are not going to produce the greatest picture but that does not mean you stop trying, practising.

Another point - you get out what you put in. If you shoot Raw there is more data in the camera to be able to process and manipulate later. If the data has not been recorded well obviously you can't do it.

Lenses: expensive lenses are expensive for a reason - they are better. Don't beat yourself up that you may not be able to match the best if you don't have the best but on the other hand don't use that fact to assume you can never get a great picture. Any person with any camera can get great pictures if the conditions are right - it is just that you are unlikely to do it as often as those with the best and those that practice the most. Finally don't just say any pictures are no good - critically look at them and ask why it is not good, what could you have done to make it different and try to learn from every one.
Berf

Re: Photographic technique

Postby IATthenRIAT on Sun 28 Jul 2019, 4:48 am

Just thought of a great idea - VF based image stabilisation via a switch on the lens that goes from Lens to Viewfinder to help with shake, often the issue is not with the final image but keeping the image in the VF still enough to follow and track an object especially if you are using just the center focus point (box) and faster shutter speeds.

I think this would be a great idea and surely within the relms of the big companies Nikon Cannon are you listening.
IATthenRIAT

Re: Photographic technique

Postby The Doctor on Wed 31 Jul 2019, 11:33 am

IATthenRIAT wrote:Just thought of a great idea - VF based image stabilisation via a switch on the lens that goes from Lens to Viewfinder to help with shake, often the issue is not with the final image but keeping the image in the VF still enough to follow and track an object especially if you are using just the center focus point (box) and faster shutter speeds.

I think this would be a great idea and surely within the relms of the big companies Nikon Cannon are you listening.



This is already the case with Nikon, where the VR is in the lens and not the body. Turning VR on already stabilizes the image in the viewfinder. I assume it is the same with other systems.
The Doctor

Re: Photographic technique

Postby tankbuster on Wed 31 Jul 2019, 11:37 am

IATthenRIAT wrote:Just thought of a great idea - VF based image stabilisation via a switch on the lens that goes from Lens to Viewfinder to help with shake, often the issue is not with the final image but keeping the image in the VF still enough to follow and track an object especially if you are using just the center focus point (box) and faster shutter speeds.

I think this would be a great idea and surely within the relms of the big companies Nikon Cannon are you listening.



Just go mirrorless and stop worrying about all this trivia :grin: :grin:
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Re: Photographic technique

Postby jalfrezi on Tue 13 Aug 2019, 8:03 am

It's probably an autofocus problem, it's just not fast enough on cameras like the 7D. I usually just take a lot of shots and hope the odd one is sharp! Alternatively, try refocusing after each shot rather than relying on AI SERVO mode. You also haven't said at what focal length you're facing the issue - anything over 400mm will suffer from atmospheric conditions on a warm day, this will get worse at longer focal lengths.

It's not a stabilisation issue as some people are saying, the problem is the aircraft is moving towards you, meaning it's moving outside of the focal plane very rapidly, this is obviously not an issue when it's flying parallel to you.
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Re: Photographic technique

Postby Black Mike on Tue 13 Aug 2019, 9:38 pm

IATthenRIAT wrote:
Sabrina wrote:
frank wrote:I use a Canon 7D and Canon 100-400mm lens.

I have noticed that when taking shots of aircraft approaching me I have a tendency to end up with a soft focus. I have tried increasing the shutter speed, changing the aperature to increase DOP but still have this problem. To be honest it has been an issue for many years.
I know it`s not a panning problem as when they come "sideways" or move away from me the photos are pretty sharp.
Has anyone else suffered with this and how did you overcome it.
Its not disasterous but still annoying.


I could have written this post myself given how closely it reflects my own situation.

I have a (very) decent set-up (D500 + Nikon 200-500mm).

And although totally in the "enthusiastic amateur" envelope, I can see a real sense of progression in terms of the photo's that I am taking.

And yet the one aspect that continues to elude me is capturing, in focus, the "head-on" fast jet.

I have adopted BBF and having adjusted wouldn't go back. But despite typically dialling-up the shutter speed to around 1250 I come back from RIAT frustrated at the quality of what are well composed images but woefully (depressingly) lacking clarity and focus.

Can the super talented people who post some amazing images on this forum and have managed to crack this problem share some hints and tips as to how people like myself can improve?


I understand that aswel my airshow experience was the first using digital inside an airshow, all my statics are superbly in focus and bags of IQ at the slight expense of some weird cropping to avoid the public, but I too have come away really sad at the quality of my display shots from what should be a decent set up - Nikon D7200 and AF-P FX 70-300 F5.6 (known for its sharpness and very good VR)
When I was last at RIAT i was outside the show at Townsend and the display shots were a million times better using inferior gear to what I have now - cant get my head round it.

This year I upped my game pushing the s speed to 1/2000sec and opened up my aperture abit to f6.3 and left the ISO do its own thing in Auto, I shoot in manual exposure but dialed in + 2/3 to help lift the shadows and help the noise.

But alas it didn't make much difference not the best flying shots.


The D7200 with FX 70-300 is a good combo as I have used it myself if a bit short (I use mostly a 200-500 for flying). 1/2000 is a bit excessive even in good weather. I'd be somewhere between 1/250 and 1/1000 depending on the subject and even slower for props or rotors. What is the issue? Is it out of focus, blurred or what? We'd need that sort of info to provide useful tips. I have thousands of frames from RIAT but I certainly don't expect them all to be top notch. Over exposed, under exposed, out of focus, camera shake, bits chopped off are all in a days work for me :smile: I shoot with ISO as low as I dare usually 100 on sunny days. Lens between 6.3 - 8 depending on available light and shutter speed to suit the subject.
Does the lens/camera combo shoot static or slow moving aircraft OK? If so it's probably down to panning technique, practice makes perfect. If not then perhaps fine tuning of the focus is needed.
Mike
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