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One problem with telephoto primes is the fixed field of view which may not match the desired image size. When I use primes with average focal lengths like 50mm it is less of a problem because I can just walk forwards or backwards to adjust a composition. With a telephoto prime, walking is often not practical, so I have the problem that I am only getting 3/4ths of the woodpecker and his feet are not in view. If the subject is a little too far away, I can just crop the photo or use a teleconverter, but if it is too close, switching out the lens seems to be the only option, and by that time the bird is gone.

Are there any innovative strategies for dealing with this problem?

  • A zoom telephoto would help that problem (of using a lens too long for the situation). – WayneF Jul 22 '17 at 14:58
  • Using a teleconverter seems more likely to provide an opportunity for a bird to fly away than swapping lenses. Practice swapping lenses tends to improve speed. – user50888 Jul 22 '17 at 15:21
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    This is the first time I've seen a post from a bird photographer with the problem of being too close ! Impressive. :-) – StephenG Jul 23 '17 at 2:56
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You can use the Brenizer Method to create a panoramic image.

A moving subject is challenging, of course, but it should be possible to shoot quickly two photos to capture the body and the feet of the bird, and then, at your leisure, shoot some pictures to capture the surroundings.

  • That is a good idea. I hadn't thought of combining two shots, but it makes perfect sense.. – Clickety Ricket Jul 22 '17 at 21:29
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  • Know your subject's approximate size well enough in advance.
  • Know your subject's tendencies well enough in advance that you can predict where your quarry will be.
  • Know the angle of view provided by your various lenses well enough in advance.

You can then set up with the appropriate lens for the subject from a position that is an appropriate distance to where you are likely to see your subject.

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  1. Swap lenses. Yes, the imagined shot might be missed. Everything in photography comes with tradeoffs. Thus what matters is the shots that are made, not the ones that got away. Swapping cameras is one way to swap lenses.

  2. Title the image "woodpecker missing feet" or "three quarters bird" or such. The art of photography is at least as much in what is done with the photos that are taken as in anything else.

  3. James Audubon's strategy for composing images of birds (before widespread availability of photography) was to shoot them with fine shot. Then to compose the taxidermed corpses and to work at leisure. Art in photography or painting or anything else is often a reflection of the unreasonable steps a person takes to create it. There are not really shortcuts.

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