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Old 05-07-2009, 21:50   #1 (permalink)
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Birds in Flight Help Needed

I will be visiting the Gauntlet Bird of Prey centre very soon and I would love to try and capyure some of the birds in flight. I will be using a Canon 400d+18-55+ Tamron 55-200 lens. No tripods or monopods are allowed so any advice would be realy welcome.
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Old 05-07-2009, 22:34   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Birds in Flight Help Needed

Capturing birds in flight is not easy! You'll be needing the 55-200 at the long end most of the time and it will be easier to try to catch them from the side rather than when they are flying towards you using panning to track them. If you do this you will not need too high a shutter speed if they are gliding. A bit of movement in the wings will add some dynamics to the shot if they are not gliding.

If you can manually pre-fosus on a point that you know they are going to land on (a handler's hand or a perch) if you have a small-ish aperure to give a reasonable depth of field, you can again track them until they enter the focus zone just before they land and grab some shots.

Other members who do this sort of shot regularly will be able to give you some more tips.
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Old 06-07-2009, 02:08   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Birds in Flight Help Needed

Pretty much as Graham has said really.
Even the "hawks" Harris's etc don't look as they are moving that fast
but just think for a minute they catch rabbits and I guess you know how fast a rabbit can move!
You best bet is if you can get them coming straight at you then a shutter speed of around 1/250th-1/500th should be OK,
but if they are side on then you are looking at 1/500th +

The long wings ie peregrines saker's lanners etc
if they are being stooped to the lure ( which is fairly normal in display situations)
are going to be moving at 80+ mph. Peregrines will easily "stoop" at well over100mph.
Around 1/1000th will be necessary to freeze these otherwise you
will just get a blur even if you are good a panning
( I have no idea if you are or not, sorry)

They are not like taking pictures of cars around a track,
they move in 3D as it were, they have the air
to manoeuvre around. However they can be predictable.

But, I have been flying birds of prey for years and taking images of them
for only about 3 years.
I still get it wrong ( quite drastically sometimes )
and I can usually predict where they are going next.

However DON'T let me put you off.
I suggest that you use the, is it 3.5 /f/s on the 400D?

Follow the lure, ( that Will be swung in a predictable arc,)
at some point the longwing will return to that, and as it does it will usually
be low and possibly coming out of the sun ( they do that )
The falconer will then pull it "in" and the bird will usually come in "quite low" and pass close to the falconer at about waist / knee height
once struck ( or bound to) ( usually at the top of the lure arc ) the display falconer should let it fall, and the bird
will come to earth.

For the hawks they are usually flown from a post ( or tree)
back to the falconers glove,
so again, focus on the glove
or the pole and spray and pray

I hope that helps anything else just yell

BTW taken with a 70-200 and at 1/500th & f/4
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Last edited by CGS; 06-07-2009 at 02:23. Reason: bitmoreinfoadded
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Old 06-07-2009, 07:29   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Birds in Flight Help Needed

Be interested in how you get on - I go passed the Gauntlet Bird of Prey Centre very regularly and have often wondered what it's like. I was a visitor to the NBPC and immensely enjoyed JPJ, both there and at her appearances around the country (and her dogs!) - didn't visit when she sold up nor been back to the "new" ICBP (but I bet the legend that is her will have made a good job of it!)

Nothing really to add to above but I've found tracking the bird and manual focus as it moves give the best results - never been a fan of 'machine-gunning' (and got my best results without). I tend to favour Tv to set the shutter (and keep speed up - but had good results @ 1/300 to give some interesting motion blur) and exposure compensation to ensure no burned highlights (but rather dependant on weather and backgrounds). Tri/Monopods just get in the way, so no probs to be without
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Old 06-07-2009, 09:57   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Birds in Flight Help Needed

All of the above but also if you do choose to go autofocus rather than manaul then set your 400D to I-Servo to keep moving bird in focus snd try to set focus point on the head if possible. The eye should be the sharpest point for most shots.

Happy shooting

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Old 06-07-2009, 18:52   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Birds in Flight Help Needed

I use a 40d and am not familiar with the 450d and I do not know if you can do all this.

I normally set the camera to the highest shooting speed it has and the focus to AI_servo. I also set it to use only one focus point for me that is usually the centre but one of the side ones also works depending on the direction of flight. Depending on the weather you may need to increase the ISO to get a fast shutter speed as mentioned above.

Then get the bird in the frame early when you can easily find it and half depress the shutter button. Now if you keep the shutter half depressed and the active focus spot on the bird the AI focus will keep it in focus. When it is close enough fully depress the shutter button and most importantly prey.

Do not be surprised if you get a lot of pictures with parts of the bird missing or out of focus but with some luck you should get some good shots. Just be happy you have a DSLR and not a film camera !!!!
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Old 07-07-2009, 11:25   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Birds in Flight Help Needed

.

Last edited by john crossley; 08-07-2009 at 09:01.
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Old 07-07-2009, 13:18   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Birds in Flight Help Needed

The classic technique for birds in flight is to use a prime lens with a focal length around 300mm and a wire frame finder. You prefocus on a spot that you expect the bird to pass then follow the action through the wire frame. It's allegedly easy to make a suitable finder out of an old coat-hanger or similar rigid wire though my own efforts were pretty ugly. On the other hand, they did work.

Peering through even the best SLR finder is less effective because you don't see what's happening outside the field of view, so you can't anticipate the bird's actions.

The problem with autofocus in this sort of situation is getting the sensor to pick the bird in the first place, there are so many interesting shadows in the background to try to focus on

The good news, with digital, is that you get several hundred chances on a single card, and you can easily delete what doesn't work!
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Old 07-07-2009, 14:23   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Birds in Flight Help Needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by sejanus View Post
......Peering through even the best SLR finder is less effective because you don't see what's happening outside the field of view, so you can't anticipate the bird's actions........

You can if you keep both eyes open.
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Old 07-07-2009, 16:05   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Birds in Flight Help Needed

Quote:
You can if you keep both eyes open
Well, given the size of most SLRs, it would help if your eyes were also on stalks
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Old 07-07-2009, 18:30   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Birds in Flight Help Needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by john crossley View Post
Don’t machine-gun – you’ll just waste frames.
I disagree with this point.

With a modern DSLR frames it does not matter - you have plenty to waste. If you try to take only one or two pictures each time a bird passes you have very little chance of getting a picture with the wings is a suitable position unless the bird is gliding. Your reactions are just not quick enough.

Those terns I posted recently were done by the method I outlined in my original post above. Sure I wasted some frames but deleting them was no problem.
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Old 08-07-2009, 00:49   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Birds in Flight Help Needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by AQ View Post
I disagree with this point.

With a modern DSLR frames it does not matter - you have plenty to waste. If you try to take only one or two pictures each time a bird passes you have very little chance of getting a picture with the wings is a suitable position unless the bird is gliding. Your reactions are just not quick enough.

Those terns I posted recently were done by the method I outlined in my original post above. Sure I wasted some frames but deleting them was no problem.
I Agree with all that
As, It would seem that the OP is "new to this" I would suggest that in reality that would be his
best chance until he has had more (time to) practise.
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Old 11-07-2009, 16:24   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Birds in Flight Help Needed

Quick "Add" to all of the above.... DO use "Burst" mode, as in, continuous shot, shoot off 5 to 10 in a burst, then pick the ones that DID work....
On Burst, I usually waste two shots getting the object "In Frame", then two or three its not in position, one or two it gets it just right, then two or three after "Just to make sure"... if I get ONE good "Keeper" out of a 10 shot burst, I will be happy.....
That is the beauty of Digital... no one knows (or cares) that you wasted 50 shots to get "The ONE"...

You will need LOTS of memory cards, as in this way, I have filled two or three cards easily in a day capturing "Live action" shots such as this... mostly motor racing in my experience, I am also "New" to bird-in-flight photography, and a lot of mine are not working....yet...

Patience, experimentation, and LOTS of memory work wonders...
Also, step the ISO up above 400 to give you a faster shutter speed, as mentioned above, and take a few "Static" shots of the birds before they start flying, and the scenery you will be shooting them against, to get an idea of what light is available....

Good luck.... I am still learning on this subject....

Idea to try..... try to plan to be somewhere on the birds flight-path, so they pass close by to start with..
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