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A Little Practice Never Hurts

Tags: practice bird

I decided to take a small break from my client video work this week and went to Bird Kingdom for a few hours to take a few Practice images.

Like most photographers I’ve found that a little practice never hurts, especially when one is getting used to handling new gear.

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NIKON 1 J5 + CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, ISO 1600, 1/80, f/5.6

I’ve been making the transition to using the rear screen of my recently acquired Nikon 1 J5s to compose images. I thought a return visit to Bird Kingdom would be helpful to practice capturing images of perched birds and a few other critters at the facility.

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NIKON 1 J5 + 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 66.4mm, ISO 3200, 1/60, f/8.0, 21mm MOVO extension tube

I brought a few 1 Nikon lenses with me as well as a set of MOVO extension tubes so I could get some practice with various species in different conditions at Bird Kingdom.

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NIKON 1 J5 + CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 87.4mm, ISO 3200, 1/320, f/6.3

The great thing about setting aside some practice time is that I can try a few new things, or attempt to improve on past attempts without any kind of pressure.

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NIKON 1 J5 + CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, ISO 12800, 1/60, f/5.6

It also gives me the opportunity to push my gear to its limits just to see what is going to happen. An example of that is the above image shot hand-held at 1/60 with my CX 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 fully extended, at ISO-12800. I wasn’t expecting any images that would be usable in terms of making printed enlargements, but rather as a simple performance test.

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NIKON 1 J5 + CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 141.3mm, ISO 1600, 1/500, f/5.3

Setting aside practice time is also a great way to reinforce habits like waiting for a profile composition when photographing a long-beaked bird like the Scarlet Ibis above. This helps to ensure that the entire length of its beak will be in focus.

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NIKON 1 J5 + CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, ISO 1600, 1/60, f/5.6

Or taking the time to choose a good capture angle to get a calming background in a composition.

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NIKON 1 J5 + CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, ISO 1600, 1/40, f/5.6

On occasion practice allows us to time our image captures during very slight pauses in the movements of a walking bird.

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NIKON 1 J5 + CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, ISO 1600, 1/320, f/5.6

Or exercising some patience to wait for a particular head angle that can help create a desired mood…

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NIKON 1 J5 + CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, ISO 1600, 1/250, f/5.6

Or photographing a rather plain subject just to see what will happen with the image in post.

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NIKON 1 J5 + CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, ISO 1600, 1/640, f/8.0

It can also be quite fun to experiment with symmetry and depth-of-field when opportunities present themselves.

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NIKON 1 J5 + CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, ISO 1600, 1/200, f/5.6

At other times there is a small feeling of accomplishment when I capture a decent image of a particular specimen that has been especially challenging in the past.

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NIKON 1 J5 + 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 100mm, ISO 3200, 1/250, f/5.6

Going to venues we have photographed in the past also allows for some anticipation of a particular type of technique or approach to capture an image. Like taking an image of a perched bird with one hand, with my arm fully extended, in order to get my camera physically closer to a particular species of bird.

Most of us enjoy creating photographs in new locations, or of new subjects. Sometimes I forget that going back and practicing with something familiar can help prepare me for new opportunities in the future.

Technical Note:
All images were captured hand-held using a Nikon 1 J5 in available light. All photographs were composed using the rear screen of the J5 only. Images in this article were produced using RAW files using my standard process of OpticsPro 11, CS6 and Nik Suite.

Article and all images are Copyright 2016 Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, adaptation or duplication of any kind is allowed without written permission. Photography Life is the only approved user of this article. If you see it reproduced anywhere else it is an unauthorized and illegal use.

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A Little Practice Never Hurts


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