Monday, November 03, 2008
Birds in flight
The American Museum of Natural History in New York, has an exhibit called "On Feathered Wings: Birds In flight, A Spectacular Photography Exhibition" through May 25, 2009. This is an exhibition of over 30 striking photographs featuring dramatic images of birds in flight. Over the course of six years, four photographers—Richard Ettlinger, David G. Hemmings, Miguel Lasa, and Jim Neiger—patiently spent countless hours waiting to capture just the right moment. See some of the photos here.
My favorite type of bird photography is photographing birds in flight. Above are a few of my photos of Roseate Spoonbills, taken at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Sanibel, FL.
How do photographers get such photos? Here's what you need:
- High speed digital cameras like the Canon 1D Mark II or III, which a lot of professional bird photographers use. For most flight photos you need to have a 500th of a second shutter speed, at least.
- A good flight lens such as the Canon 300 mm IS which is light enough to hand hold. Or the Canon 500 mm or 600 mm IS lens. If you have those, you need a good tripod since they are heavy. A few strong photographers can actually hand hold the 500 mm lens. If you are using a tripod you lack some mobility, so you need a good location such as that at Ding Darling where a lot of birds fly in, in a predictible flight route.
- Good situations for photographing birds in flight, such as open areas of water or shoreline, or open land where you see birds coming from a distance and can get on them early with your autofocus.
- Sometimes there are set-ups photographers use, such as putting up a fake owl statue on a pole, which attracts migrating raptors to a specific target. They come close to check-out the "owl."
- Good eye-hand coordination and fast reflexes.
- A willingness to practice lots and take lots and lots of photos, only some of which will turn out. (At least with digital you are not paying for film.)
- Excellent knowledge of your camera so you have the right photo setting for each situation.
- A strong motivation and desire to take flight photos.
- The expertise and programs to process your digital photo to make it look its best. Most use Adobe Photoshop.
My advice is even if you don't have all or some of the above, try anyway. You might find it fun and addictive like I do.
By the way, you probably know this but, my photographs on this blog (as well as the photographs taken by other bloggers on their blogs) are copyright and are not allowed to be used in any way by other people, without the permission of the person who took the photograph. Thanks.