Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

March 22, 2009

Birds in Flight Photography

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , , , — admin @ 11:47 pm

Ash Island,  20th March, 2009

Today was a bit of a dud when i went to Ash Island. There was a White-bellied Sea-eagle sitting on a power pole and he flew off but I did not get a decent shot of him, and he was flying away from me, anyway. The only thing around were the Black-winged Stilts and the obligatory Swallows and a flock of what I thought were Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, but they were too far away on the other side of the pond to get any good photos.

So, I just practiced my Birds in Flight(BIF) photography. Here is what I do.

Black-winged stilt

I use the back focus button and I have the AutoFocus(AF) set on AI-Servo. It is best to have the bird coming along ways rather than straight at you. And try and get the light so that the bird’s face is lit and not in shade. Try to photograph the birds in flight from the front, rather than going away from you.

Normally I use Manual Exposure. For dark birds, I overexpose about 2 stops and for white birds, i will overexpose about 1.3 stops.

I try to have at least a shutter speed of 1/1000 or more, maybe 1/1250. I do not think it is necessary to go faster than this. If I have enough light I will try and get the best ISO i can , and try and get an aperture something like f/8. But mostly I use f/5.6, because I like to keep a lower ISO. If you have a top end camera you can bump up the ISO and the inbuilt noise-reduction will sort out the jaggies for you.

Black-winged stilt

The photo above was shot at 1/1000, f/5.6 and ISO250.

What else is there? Oh yeah, I only use the center focus point, and not the nine points. That is my opinion, I think the center focus point only is faster and does not go tracking off onto other crap in the viewfinder. But try it for yourself.

Black-winged stilt

But herein learn the secret of Birds in Flight Photography. Dont worry too much about all the technical details. Get the basics down. That is your exposure, and make sure you have a fast enough shutter speed, ie , greater than 1/1000. The big secret is practice, practice, practice. Just keep doing it and doing it until you get competent at it.

The end.

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