Dec 262010

merganserrunHave you ever had the smartest person you know ask you to help him/her with a question?


It happened to me today.  Mr Petersen approached me about a photography question.  This is the guy with the photographic memory.  Why even own a camera he can just recall it.  Turns out he is not perfect …he owns a Canon.  So here is my humble attempt to help …….

To capture a bird in flight does take some practice.  For years I have held my camera up and followed birds without shooting.  Practice is a big part.  The next is anticipating a birds actions.  Waterfowl are notorious for standing on the water after preening.  So in that case patience is in order and watching for them to stand on the water and spread their wings.


Birds of prey  have their own behavioral traits.  They don’t like people or cameras.  When shooting at the wildlife refuges the more experienced photographers rarely get out of the car to photograph.   Concealment is critical.  Or what sometimes works is when a bird is focused on prey their peripheral seems to diminish.  Many times I have approached Hawks when they are hunting and have been fortunate to get a good shot.


Finally and maybe the most important is the camera settings.   The look of a photograph is going to be determined by each photographer.  We will all see the shot a little different.  Here are a few suggestions that have worked for me:

I always shoot in aperture priority.  And I shoot wide open.  My 600 is almost always at f/4.  I like the short depth of field that a large aperture creates.  It helps separate the subject from the background.  Makes for great Bokuh!


In the case of the Hawk in the photo above I also added blur to the photograph.  I felt the tree was too “busy” for my taste. Others may want to see the tree.  That’s the creative part that makes us all different.

The shutter speed must be pretty high if you want to stop the action of a bird.  Wide open lens, aperture priority and a high ISO.  Of course the amount of light drives the ISO.  All the shots on this blog were shot this morning.  An overcast and dark morning.  To get my desired shutter speed of at least 1/3000 second my ISO ranged from 1200 to 3200.  The trade off is what we called in film days “grain”.  There will be more noise with higher shutter speeds.  I am very blessed to shoot with a D3s(s).  At higher ISO’s there is little grain or noise.


The first to get my camera up this morning was a bald eagle.  It was quit dark.  ISO was at 3200.  Makes for a little bit of a surreal look.  My blogs over the past while would lead you to believe my passion was birds.  It is photography.  Especially big game.  However I can be at the wildlife refuge in less than 15 minutes from my home.  There is always a new setting, different birds, new personalities and fun.  Though big game photography requires less skill for fast moving objects, It has it’s own challenges.  Either way if I can be out with any of them I am very happy.

 Posted by at 6:02 PM

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