Success Smells Like a Chickadee

If you’ll recall, a couple of weekends ago I posted pictures of the little tweetie birds enjoying the feeder I’ve put out.  In that same post I lamented about the quality of the photos.  They weren’t real sharp.

I’ve noticed a lack of focus with many of the photos taken with the 70-200mm, particularly when I zoom to 200mm.  I assumed (correctly) that it was user-error, not lens error.  But, I didn’t know what the heck I was doing wrong.

Success Smells Like...,

So, at the same time I published that post I reached out via a thread on the Clickin’ Moms website asking for input and guidance.  I discovered Clickin’ Moms through my sister-in-law, who is both photographer and Mom.  I am a non-Mom photographer, but there is a place for everyone on that site.  And, there are some extraordinarily talented photographers on there.  Like, jaw-droppingly gorgeous photos and superb technique photographers. I took Mastering Manual Exposure through CM last summer and learned a dizzying amount of stuff in four short weeks.  I hope to take a class on composition this summer.

Success Smells Like...,

General consensus among those who responded was that my focus was off.  Could be due to camera shake, focus being off the subject, etc.  I asked a few clarifying questions and received limited additional response, which I initially found a little frustrating.  Now I’m glad I didn’t have complete answers spoon-fed to me because it made me have to do my own research.  You’re admiring the results in this post.

May I take a moment to do a happy dance?  Haaappppyyyyy dancin’!  Whoot-whoot! Sunshine and rainbows and fluffy kittens and warm chocolate chip cookies!  The difference between the photos I took a couple of days ago and those I took two weeks ago? HUGE!  I mean look for yourself!  Go back to that prior post…then look at this post.  Night and day!  How cool is that?!

Success Smells Like...,

What did I do differently?  A few things.  First, I’ve been pondering the whole issue, taking into consideration what the ladies over at CM had to say.  A lot.  I’m also, as I mentioned here working my way through David Busch’s Canon 60D book and…put it together and what have you got!! Forget bibbity-bobbity…I’ve got photographic improvement!!  Not perfection, but marked improvement.

Success Smells Like...,

First, I didn’t know that my camera is capable of three different kinds of focus (one-shot, AI Servo, AI Focus) and that each have different strengths depending upon what your photographing (one-shot is ideal for subjects that don’t move, AI Servo is used for sports and other fast-moving subjects and AI Focus is a combination of the first two).  I selected AI Servo, because little birds are fast.  I also elected to use continuous shooting, which I’d not previously used. I committed to a shutter speed of around 1/1000 and didn’t let it drop lower than 1/800 and tried to keep the aperture from drifting below f/5 (the lens is an f/4).  I also used a tripod for every single shot.

I am so very pleased with the results.  That sounds so calm and refined.

I am so stinkin’ ridiculously excited!  Where’s me a cupcake? This warrants a celebration!

Success Smells Like...,

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