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How to photograph flying birds

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Honorary Virtual Ranger
Honorary Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Fri Jan 14, 2005 5:42 pm
Location: Red sand, why do I keep thinking of red sand?

Re: How to photograph flying birds

Unread post by DuQues » Tue Sep 28, 2010 3:46 pm

Welcome to the forums!

Spotmetering would be best, but as the bird is flying it usually means that your centerfocus will be off it most of the time.
So the best thing is to meter the tip of a tree, and set that. It means going to manual, but that's no trouble as long as you remember to adjust it back to the setting you like best afterwards.

Don't forget the sunny f/16 rule, that makes it even easier:
On a sunny day and with ISO 100 setting in the camera, one sets the aperture to f/16 and the shutter speed to 1/100 or 1/125 seconds.
You don't want f/16 of course, but f/8 or f/5.6 instead, so you have a faster shuttertime.
Simply walk the stops, 1/125 @ f/16 = 1/250 @ f/8 = 1/500 @ f/11 = 1/1000 @ f/8, etc.
Not posting much here anymore, but the photo's you can follow here There is plenty there.

Feel free to use any of these additional letters to correct the spelling of words found in the above post: a-e-t-n-d-i-o-s-m-l-u-y-h-c

Posts: 101
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Location: johannesburg

Shooting a diving Malachite Kingfisher

Unread post by JimS » Sun Sep 13, 2015 8:26 pm


These two images are part of a series of four I posted on the Lake Panic thread. I wanted to shoot a Malachite Kingfisher diving to catch a fish, these little birds are very fast and my reactions are rather slow. A Malachite was catching fish from the same perch on a regular basis so I thought I would try to capture the action without having superfast reactions.

I switched my lens to manual focus, the AF could not match the speed of the bird, and focused on an area where I thought the bird may dive. The lens focal length was set to 400mm, enough to capture an image of a usable size, but still cover a reasonable area of water.

The ISO was set very high at 6400 to give an action stopping speed in the grey cloudy weather, the speed turned out to be 1/6400sec @ f5.6. A sunny day would allow for a much lower ISO.

At first a tried to look thru the viewfinder watching for when the bird was ready to fly, but the bird had dived and returned to the perch before I pressed the shutter, so plan B.

I held the lens on my bean bag and sat back watching the bird. This proved far more successful, giving me time to fire the shutter as the bird dived.

Choosing where to focus was hit and miss, but I managed to get two series of shots out of five attempts.

This is probably old hat to most readers of this forum, but maybe it may be useful for photographers like me, who have never tried to capture action from a Malachite.

ImageMalachite Splash 2 by Jim, on Flickr

ImageMalachite Splash 3 by Jim, on Flickr


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