Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Birds in Flight... Part 1

One of the finer techniques of bird photography is commonly referred to as the bif (Bird in Flight). It seems to be one of the most difficult things to learn. I always compare this style of photography to golf, as once you have a "great shot", it keeps you coming back for more!

This bif thing starts with a good camera body and lens. Your equipment doesn't need to cost you more then a brand new vehicle, or a down payment on a house... but a good DSLR and fast focusing lens is a must. Personally I think you can purchase a good system for bifs for less then $3,000.

Look for a high frame rate body.. 5 fps is good, more is better! A lens that is fast, and quick to focus is also a big help. I would say at least 300mm would be a great start for a bif lens, 400mm is probably better. High end cameras and lenses do have their advantages, but with a price!

For support, hand held is the way to go for good bif shooting... hopefully your lens is not too heavy, and you can hold it up and move it around to follow a fast moving bird while it is in the air. For distant birds, a 500-600mm lens is great and a tripod is more useful. A bird that is flying 80-200 yards away is easier to track with a long lens and tripod. The closer these flyer's are to you, the harder it is to keep them in the frame.

Everything depends on the situation, every shooting experience is different. One needs to have a versatile equipment collection to accommodate various locations, birds, light, and timidness of the birds. If your out shooting ducks in flight at a local pond where the birds will fly by you within 30-60 feet, a 300mm f4, or f2.8 is a great lens. If your trying to catch a speedy swallow or songbird that won't come in to close, a 400mm lens will give you the reach. I use a zoom lens which helps me with many different bif opportunities.

In the next post, I will discuss settings for your camera, and some basics for capturing good birds in flight images.

Please take some time to visit the new magazine I recently created... Nature Images Online Magazine

Take care.

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