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Old 27-05-2009, 20:33   #1 (permalink)
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How do I get...

How do I get

Swallows in Flight.....

I was taking some photographs at a pond recently, and whilst I was there, a flock of swallows descended and pond-skimmed.

What I got in the lens was a blur.....

How the Hell do you get them?.....

I just couldnt swing the camera fast enough to keep up (fast likkle swines, aint they...) on the 200mm zoom, so didnt even think of the 400, but the standard one all I got was "Dots" that didnt even register as a bird shape in editing when enlarged, so, I just want to ask...

Has anyone managed to get them, and how?...

I am thinking along the lines of staking out the pond and seeing if their is a predictable flight path perhaps, sticking the camera on the fastest shutter speed, aiming along that path, screwing it down solid to the tripod, and if one dips a wing anywhere near the field of view, firing a burst of up-to 10 shots to see what I get...

Am I thinking along the right lines here?...

Or has anyone got a better suggestion?...
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Old 27-05-2009, 20:56   #2 (permalink)
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Re: How do I get...

Dunno but great use of smilies

(I'm sure one of the bird boffins will be along shortly.)
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Old 27-05-2009, 22:33   #3 (permalink)
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Re: How do I get...

Haven't done it myself but I would have thought

1) high shutter speed

1) highest ISO possible without to much noise

3) panning

4) mutiple shot mode

5) 12 bore shotgun.....................
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Old 27-05-2009, 22:56   #4 (permalink)
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Re: How do I get...

If you pre-plan some shots and have your camera set up for action shooting, practice panning and see what works best in terms of your positioning in relation to the area where the birds will be flying it will stand you in good stead for the sort of shots you describe, which are just about the hardest shots to get - the opportunist bird in flight shots.

It is easier to be positioned to the side so you can pan rather than have them fly towards you. Then you can use a slow-ish shutter speed. AF might not work too well, so you could use manual focus so you can pre-focus and have a small aperture to give you some leeway. The BG will be blurred by the panning so small aperture will not give too great a DoF.
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Old 27-05-2009, 23:12   #5 (permalink)
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Re: How do I get...

Never tried Swallows but found Blue Tits difficult enough (leaving/arriving at a nest so a vaguely predictable flight path) and seagulls (swooping/swirling) which were easier. Concluded that much easier to get Dragonflies!

Can't argue with your own suggestions - and then combined and refined with Graham's
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Old 28-05-2009, 00:56   #6 (permalink)
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Re: How do I get...

Quote:
Originally Posted by towershot View Post

5) 12 bore shotgun.....................
I had wondered about that one.......although I would prefer a 13guage grape-shot meself, wider spread you see, as the likkle blighters dont 'arf get a shifty-on as they pass...........
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Old 28-05-2009, 00:57   #7 (permalink)
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Re: How do I get...

Thanks so far.... its a "Determined" effort to get something when I return to that one....
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Old 28-05-2009, 11:42   #8 (permalink)
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Re: How do I get...

Hi,
Forget the tripod, as you need to be able to pan and track the birds flight path.
Use manual focussing, and set it for a point in their flightpath you have determined that they fly through often (focus trap technique).

Wait for the bird to enter the spot you have chosen to focus on and shoot away. You should aim for the highest shutter speed possible, if you are worried about noise and grain then probably best not to bother at all :-).

Set camera to shoot at fastest frame rate possible. The rest is pretty much down to luck.

Attached two links to images, which I have uploaded as proof of concept, not for their value as images (i have dozens, but these are all I have access to for the moment).

Watch the birds as they move, there are patterns to it.......

Best of luck, that's the really important bit LOL




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Old 29-05-2009, 18:51   #9 (permalink)
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Re: How do I get...

Practice and Patience. Four good ones out of about 150.

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Old 29-05-2009, 21:31   #10 (permalink)
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Re: How do I get...

That's a goodie Streetfire
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Old 31-05-2009, 09:19   #11 (permalink)
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Re: How do I get...

.... Turned up my camera to ISO of 1600....
I will not be showing you all what the results were, 'cos methinks I need a little practise, or I had the thing set on the wrong setting elsewhere (EXIF data to be reviewed), but STILL cant get them damn turbo-charged budgerigars to stay still in flight....
Many (many many) blurred images later, I gave up for that day....

Good efforts here from others, especially that one on the bird-box from Streetfire...
but after a day trying, the best photo I ended up with from that day is this one...
(Note... not a bird in sight......)


Slight edit on levels, but otherwise, this blossom was in a pool of light on its own in a forest...
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Old 31-05-2009, 10:11   #12 (permalink)
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Re: How do I get...

Quote:
turbo-charged budgerigars to stay still in flight
- love this expression

Was out yesterday watching swallows flying around and thought back to your previous post, and can see what you mean in terms of trying to capture them on camera. When ive gone for birds in flight in the past, as already stated, get a fixed focus point and snap away as they go past.
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Old 31-05-2009, 18:17   #13 (permalink)
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Re: How do I get...

Good luck with this. I'd have thought that swallows in flight must near the pinacle of wildlife photography from a speed perspective. I struggled to get the leafcutter ants in focus yesterday so heaven knows how you manage to get swallows!!

I hope you succeed.
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Old 01-06-2009, 22:48   #14 (permalink)
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Re: How do I get...

I've been meaning to get back to this. The manual focus with a fixed focus point can work or watch their patterns and wait for them. Tree swallows are very hard. Using a nest box to shoot them around is a very good idea. If it's barn swallows or bank swallows shoot them where they're gathering mud for nests. Also very windy days can help a lot too when the birds just hang in the air. Free hand I do something like this: aperture mode, constant auto-focus, matrix metering, center focus point with sensitivity set to small, and shutter speeds of about 1/1200 or faster. I shoot Olympus, but all makers have similar functions. You can also do much the same in manual. As for streetfire's 4 out of 150, that's probably really good for small birds like swallows. There are days when I'd be happy with that hand-held for eagles, pelicans,egrets or herons which are really slow in comparison.
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Old 02-06-2009, 19:23   #15 (permalink)
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Re: How do I get...

I had a pair of swallows nesting in my yard a few weeks ago,,still see them. They sit still a little bit, but both will fly a line pattern to and from the nest, waiting for them at one end would have worked for me.
I personnally have found manual focus the hardest to track birds in flight. I have had success with my 100-400mm push pull by finding subject and zooming in with the camera set in Av mode. Simple practice and watching.
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