a teatray in the sky

f/2.8 and be there

Posted in 5D Mark II, Pennsylvania, Photography, Pittsburgh, Technique and Development by firthefirst on July 23, 2010

didn’t seem to work out quite the way I thought it would.  perhaps you’ve heard of the technical term “f/8 and be there.”  photojournalists shoot like this because they need the detail captured in the deep DOF, and because they need one less button to worry about while getting that critical shot without being shot by a non-camera weapon.  for landscape photographers, I guess the rule is probably “f/16 and be there before sunrise.”  but for almost everyone else (wedding photogs, portraitists, hipsters), you could really say the opposite, that the less DOF you have the more artsy your shot will have: “f/2.8 and be there.”

I think the majority of photographers out there now probably spend 80% or more of their time shooting at f/4 or less.  it’s not a bad thing, unless you start to take shooting wide open for granted.  a mistake I made during my trip to the National Aviary in Pittsburgh.

I didn’t do it because I wanted to look artsy (I swear).  I did it because I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to maintain shutter speeds fast enough to capture these flitty flighty things.  I knew I could have ratcheted up my ISO to 1600.  I probably should have realized shutter speeds tighter than 1/500 sec would be alright.  had I done both of those things, I could have been shooting at f/5.6.

which would mean in the opening shot, both birds would be in focus.  that would be a real keeper image.  as it stands, our main character is dipping right into the plane of focus but his sidekick is lost in the bokeh.

something to remember for the future — just because wide open is there, doesn’t mean you should always be using it.  shooting at f/5.6 may not sound as sexy as shooting at f/2, but there are times that it’s a hell of a lot more useful.

let’s talk upside, shall we?  this climate-controlled birding outing reinforced just how incredible the 5D Mark II’s sensor is … and yes, I’m gonna post full size crops so you can see that it really has got the minerals.

yeah dad, I heard ya.  full-size crops it is.

in the finch and heron crops take a gawk at the detail reflected in the eyes.  desert eagle, point 5-D

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6 Responses

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  1. stephen yang said, on July 23, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    holy nuts

    • firthefirst said, on July 23, 2010 at 8:22 pm

      better believe it. I bet they’d all be crisper at f/4, too, but lesson learned the hard way

  2. Geoff said, on July 23, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    Very nice.

  3. clicksey said, on July 30, 2010 at 8:58 am

    Love the first photo you have up here, the colours are gorgeous, so soft!

    • firthefirst said, on July 30, 2010 at 11:07 am

      thanks. I really like the subtle coloration on the finches. you can’t see it from the photo but they have really intriguing tails as well


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