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User / Rudy in Ottawa
Rudy Pohl / 614 items

N 32 B 382 C 5 E Feb 25, 2020 F Feb 27, 2020
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HOW I PHOTOGRAPH SMALL, FAST BIRDS IN FLIGHT

(A lot of the credit for this method goes to my new friend named Brian who I met at Fletcher Wildlife Gardens yesterday. He gave me some key tips that improved my existing method - thanks a million Brian!)

1. Find a location with lots of birds flying back and forth in a predictable, repeating pattern. Feeders are perfect.

2. Set up your tripod in order to give you the desired approach angle of the birds coming in to the feeder. If you want images of birds without seeds in their mouths you have to catch them coming in, not leaving. Also, make test shots to try to get a nice background or at least one you can work with in post processing.

3. Focus your lens on a spot on the outer edge of feeder closest to where the majority of the birds are coming to it. If they are coming to the feeder from the trees to the left then focus on the far left edge of the feeder.

4. Gently switch your lens to manual focus using the switch on the lens, thereby disabling the auto focus.

5. Rotate your tripod head or gimbal head slightly to the left so that your field of view does not have the feeder in it, but only the small air corridor immediately to the left of it. This is your target shooting zone. Lock down your tripod/gimbal to prevent any tilting or panning.

6. Set your aperture to as high a number as you dare to go as this will increase your depth of field and thereby increase your odds of getting your subjects in sharp focus. Unfortunately, the higher the aperture setting the higher your ISO will be, but that's still better than having a blurry image. You'll need to experiment. For this reason full sun days are the best.

7. Set your shutter speed to 1/2500th of a sec. You can experiment with faster and slower.

8. I set the ISO to Auto-ISO as this has been my preference for many years... it works very well for me.

9. Set your shutter activation speed to maximum speed. I use 10 frames per second on my Nikon D500, but I've had good results at 6 to 7 fps.

10. When you're all set, stand up straight and don't look through your lens, but look in the direction from where the birds will be coming and have your finger on the shutter button. When you see one of your darling little models coming in, get ready to rattle off a short burst of no more than 3-4 shots.

After a bit of practice you'll be able to get a framed bird in almost every burst. However, in even 10 such captured flight images only a few, if any, will be useable because many don't have nice open wing positions and most are not quite sharp enough to be useable. Nevertheless, you should be able to come away from a 1-2 hour session with a keeper or two,

A word about bird behavior. I was there for about 3 hours and I've spent lots of time at other public bird feeders and what I've found is that the really busy group-feeding happens in waves. There are always a few birds here and there coming it to the feeders, but then there's a whole feeding frenzy with many dozens of birds coming in one after another giving you lots of opportunities to capture some good images. Be patient and the next wave will be sure to happen.

Good luck and enjoy!
Rudy

N 38 B 423 C 9 E Feb 25, 2020 F Feb 26, 2020
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Fletcher Wildlife Gardens
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To return to normal press them again.

HOW I PHOTOGRAPH SMALL, FAST BIRDS IN FLIGHT

(A lot of the credit for this method goes to my new friend named Brian who I met at Fletcher Wildlife Gardens yesterday. He gave me some key tips that improved my existing method - thanks a million Brian!)

1. Find a location with lots of birds flying back and forth in a predictable, repeating pattern. Feeders are perfect.

2. Set up your tripod in order to give you the desired approach angle of the birds coming in to the feeder. If you want images of birds without seeds in their mouths you have to catch them coming in, not leaving. Also, make test shots to try to get a nice background or at least one you can work with in post processing.

3. Focus your lens on a spot on the outer edge of feeder closest to where the majority of the birds are coming to it. If they are coming to the feeder from the trees to the left then focus on the far left edge of the feeder.

4. Gently switch your lens to manual focus using the switch on the lens, thereby disabling the auto focus.

5. Rotate your tripod head or gimbal head slightly to the left so that your field of view does not have the feeder in it, but only the small air corridor immediately to the left of it. This is your target shooting zone. Lock down your tripod/gimbal to prevent any tilting or panning.

6. Set your aperture to as high a number as you dare to go as this will increase your depth of field and thereby increase your odds of getting your subjects in sharp focus. Unfortunately, the higher the aperture setting the higher your ISO will be, but that's still better than having a blurry image. You'll need to experiment. For this reason full sun days are the best.

7. Set your shutter speed to 1/2500th of a sec. You can experiment with faster and slower.

8. I set the ISO to Auto-ISO as this has been my preference for many years... it works very well for me.

9. Set your shutter activation speed to maximum speed. I use 10 frames per second on my Nikon D500, but I've had good results at 6 to 7 fps.

10. When you're all set, stand up straight and don't look through your lens, but look in the direction from where the birds will be coming and have your finger on the shutter button. When you see one of your darling little models coming in, get ready to rattle off a short burst of no more than 3-4 shots.

After a bit of practice you'll be able to get a framed bird in almost every burst. However, in even 10 such captured flight images only a few, if any, will be useable because many don't have nice open wing positions and most are not quite sharp enough to be useable. Nevertheless, you should be able to come away from a 1-2 hour session with a keeper or two,

A word about bird behavior. I was there for about 3 hours and I've spent lots of time at other public bird feeders and what I've found is that the really busy group-feeding happens in waves. There are always a few birds here and there coming it to the feeders, but then there's a whole feeding frenzy with many dozens of birds coming in one after another giving you lots of opportunities to capture some good images. Be patient and the next wave will be sure to happen.

Good luck and enjoy!
Rudy

N 41 B 491 C 11 E Feb 25, 2020 F Feb 25, 2020
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To return to normal press them again.

N 38 B 448 C 8 E Feb 25, 2020 F Feb 25, 2020
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N 35 B 841 C 19 E Feb 22, 2020 F Feb 23, 2020
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This was an unusual first for me yesterday morning on Akins Road in rural west Ottawa - 4 male Snowy Owls in one field all at the same time. The 3 in the right-hand section of the field were so far away from Akins Road that they were almost at Fallowfield Road and too far away for any photographers to trek out to get a closer shot.

The one on the far left, snoozing contentedly in the sunshine, had been closer and I watched one person try to go out and get closer, but as has been the case with this male all season, he does not like people and as they get within 200-300 feet he simply flies further back into the field.

The one on the left has been here since late November, but the fact that we now have 3 more at the same time might suggest that the migration back up north has begun and that these 3 are just passing through on their way home.

The other BIG exciting news for me personally is that I've just had cataract removal surgery on both eyes in the last 10 days and yesterday I could actually clearly see all four of the Owls without binoculars - even with binoculars I would not have been able to see the 3 on the right at all. I'm amazed at how impaired my vision actually was before this... darn near blind as a bat!


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