Shutter Speed Part 2 – Catching the Action = More Good Shots

In my last post I talked about my exploration of using Shutter Mode as a means of capturing action that was impossible when shooting in my beloved Aperture Mode. To make these shots I bumped up the ISO far outside of my own comfort level to make it possible to use faster shutter speeds in the available light. Since I am shooting a long lens, the aperture can never be exceptionally wide – there are no really fast zooms for the mirrorless platform yet. f6.7 is as fast as I can go at maximum zoom – so there are limits built in. In Aperture Mode I was shooting at around 1/250 second and I kept my ISO under 1000.

This set was shot with apertures between f6.7-f7.1 at 1/500 second and an ISO setting of 2500. Bluejays tend to be skittish, they bounce from tree to tree deciding whether or not to risk visiting the feeders.  I took these shots in the space of 10 seconds. There are 23 shots – I discarded three that were out of focus. As I mentioned in my previous post, I have disabled my preview so that I can keep shooting. If I had been shooting in Aperture Mode I would have gotten off about 6 shots hoping for one or two in focus, removing preview would have let me shoot more, but I am guessing my percentages would have been the same – 30% verses over 90%. Shooting in this mode gave me lots of options for that best shot.

I have also decided to leave my comfort zone in another way – my photos are in a gallery this time. I didn’t upload large size files because I am just using up too much storage space, but I think these work OK – on a future post I will use fewer images and try it larger. Click on the first image to see the images in the order in which they were shot – this feature shows the camera settings on the lower right of the screen for each image. If you click fast enough you will get a feel for what my encounter with the jay was like.

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46 thoughts on “Shutter Speed Part 2 – Catching the Action = More Good Shots

  1. Pingback: Shutter Speed – on the Road | the eff stop

  2. Pingback: Shutter Speed – A Month of Hummers | the eff stop

  3. Pingback: Shutter Speed Part 4 – My Blue Heron | the eff stop

  4. Pingback: Shutter Speed Part 3 – Happy Accidents | the eff stop

  5. I love the commentary and the beautiful pictures. How high of an ISO do you go in the daylight? I try to keep it around 200-400. Am I on track, or should I be higher than that?

    • You know, I think it depends on your camera and it’s ISO performance – the Jays were shot at 2500. My camera tests out clean at 3200 and passable at 6400 – ISO performance was not high on my list when I bought it but its been a nice surprise. I think you should experiment in shutter mode. Start at about 1/400 second and push the ISO up until the image is bright enough. Then move up to 520, 640, 800, etc. I’m finding that in good sunlight that I can stop motion at 1/640 and above. Hummingbird feathers are defined at 1/1000 sec. I hope that helps.

      • Every morning I was sitting a handful of peanuts in the shell (not raw) right outside at 7 for a Bluejay out here. One morning I didn’t get them out there fast enough and he stood at the window looking in just hollering for his peanuts quite loudly! Unfortunately the squirrels found out and started coming to the window so I stopped setting them out altogether. My mom, who enjoyed feeding and watching birds, told me Cardinals like orange slices too.

        • So just unsalted peanuts? Cool. I put oranges out for the Oriels that never showed up and my cardinals were not very interested, I even had them in the tray feeders they prefer and they never touched them, but the woodpeckers did. I am going to pick up some peanuts today! I have terriers so the squirrels will keep their distance :)

          • Unsalted or salted unless your Bluejays have high blood pressure (smiles). They will crack the shells and eat the peanuts. Now I’ve learned something new about woodpeckers!

          • I’ve tried it – seems that one jay likes them and the other tosses them on the ground – happily, my terrier loves them. :)

  6. Nice shots that turned well for 2500 ISO. And great patience for coaxing that bird in over that period of time.

    Your approach is interesting. Given the three variables to control, I tend to use aperture mode turned wide open unless there is more light, turn up ISO and watch the shutter speed. Once I’m on the edge of the three variables, it’s hard to know what is worse to sacrifice – ISO or shutter speed. Usually neither works.

    • I shot these the same afternoon as the hummingbirds, the sun was getting pretty low so I just pushed it far enough to be bright at that speed. Typically in aperture mode I would set the ISO and forget it, giving myself just 2 variables. I could keep things bright, but couldn’t reliably catch movement unless it was very bright out. I guess you could say I just ignored the ISO. I shot some tonight at 3200, and they aren’t as grainy as I thought they would be, but their not in the sweet spot either. My camera was ranked pretty high for its handling of high ISOs – I know i couldn’t have done this on my older body.

      I’m hoping for a sunny day Saturday to try different options in good light. I do see feathers stopping on shots at 1/500 sec and faster, but I need enough light to pull it off at a decent ISO.

  7. I think the gallery mode was great! Big pictures and you can go as fast or slow as you like. Or like me try both. ha! I have lots of bluejays. They love the sunflower seeds I put out. I sometimes only have 2, but have had up to 10 at a time. Not many females though. I am not sure where they went or if they came at dawn. They like to come super early. :-) Great photos. I love bluejays too.

    • Thanks, I think the gallery was a fun thing to try. How do you tell the difference between males and females, my birding references don’t say. I think I have a nest up high in a nearby pine. I see a pair up there all the time.

      • there really is no difference in color or plummage. You just have to watch them closely. Usually this time of year a female will be feeding the young and they are more skittish. I know they are all skittish! The lighter color ones are the young ones. Just gotta watch them close is all. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.

        • No – it’s good to know that I am not missing another color or pattern. I notice two up high in my tall pines and I bet they are nesting, only one comes to the feeder.

          • The one that comes to the feeder is probably the male. I have noticed that the female is usually a bit smaller then the male. But that’s about it. The male will feed the female while she is nesting. That’s all I know about them.

          • I see the pair pretty regularly these days and they both come to the feeder, but this one is definitely there more often. I’m betting he’s the man of the nest.

  8. i LOVE the way this has been displayed. Firstly the collage, rather than the scrolling down the page; and then the slide show. It was fascinating. Great shots too. Well done!

    • Thanks, I just love the color of these birds. Jays are pretty large, I can tell they are nearby because the tree branches bounce.

      I had never tried the gallery option, but there are lots of ways to set it up. I thinks it works for this post, but I still like the ability to tell a story between images. We’ll see where it goes next.

    • You are too kind – it has taken me a year to get this guy to trust me, and so far his mate just watches from the treetops. I keep a table open for them at the buffet though. Hopefully they will bring friends.

  9. I just love blue jays! They were hit hard here with some disease (?) back when I moved into my house (7 years ago). I found at least 5 dead in my yard that year. Thank goodness they have recovered here. I like the photo layout or gallery if you will. I’ll have to figure out how to do that! =-)

    • I love them too, but this one is the first one brave enough to hang around much. He watched me from afar last summer and he and his mate are pretty picky about the company when they pop in. I did a quick search on the help and support site and they walk you right through the process of making a gallery – I think it works for a post with so many photos.

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