Photographing birds in flight

August 02, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Taking pictures of birds in flight is one of the most fun and challenging types of photography there is.  This is a photo of a roseate spoonbill that was building a nest at the rookery at High Island Texas just east of Galveston.  He or she was flying back and forth in front of me gathering nesting material which made this shot relatively easy.  Since the flight path was at my eye level and was predictable, I just set up my tripod and left the ball head on a loose swivel setting, took a few test shots to get the exposure right, and got quite a few "keepers".  Since these birds are large and don't fly very fast it was relatively easy to focus and keep it in the viewfinder.  To me the interesting part is seeing the photos afterwards and seeing all the different poses and wing positions birds have when flying that you can't normally see since they move so fast.  

The hawk picture below was taken out in a field near Georgetown Texas where I was trying to take photos of meadowlarks.  The meadowlarks weren't cooperating, but this hawk decided to check me out and was circling pretty close overhead, which resulted in a few nice shots.  For successful bird in flight shots, it's important to have the sun low in the sky in the morning or evening, to have the bird flying in the right direction relative to the sun so it's head is not in shadow, and to at least have the eye in sharp focus.  For a fast flying bird that means a shutter speed of at least 1/1000 or higher.  More on the technical details next time...

www.kenbrennanphotography.com


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