Saturday, July 30, 2016

Birds of a Feather

Generally we see egrets standing alone, searching for fish in shallow waters. But occasionally we see groups of them, either roosting in a tree or enjoying the same fishing hole. On this bright sunny July day in Bombay Hook, Delaware, the egrets were everywhere. Lots of Snowy Egrets, the smaller ones with yellow-orange feet, as well as Great Egrets, the largest of the species. All are beautiful long legged birds, graceful both on the ground and in the air.

Because I wanted to capture the feel of this group of birds, but wanted to single out one as the focal point, I waited until the one in front of the grasses was in a good position and not blocked by anything else. As always, I took a lot of images in hopes of getting just the right one. When photographing birds or wildlife, it is important to take a great many images. Even though the main subject might be relatively stationary, subtle changes in head position, eyes open or closed, and other variables happen imperceptibly, and it is better to have a lot of rejects than to miss that perfect moment. Shoot like crazy and delete later.

The best camera settings for birds or wildlife are:
-  set the shutter on High Speed burst, and
-  the autofocus on Continuous (Nikon) or AI Servo (Canon).

Use High Speed burst (if your camera gives you options) because the shutter will fire more rapidly, helping to assure that you capture that perfect moment. BUT it is not necessary to fire off more than 3 to 5 shots in a row. Take a small number of shots, and then stop for a few seconds to allow your camera to catch up with you. If you take too many in a row, your camera's buffer will fill and then will not allow you to take more images until it has processed all the shots you just took.

Use Continuous or AI Servo autofocus so that your camera will focus continuously as long as you have the focus button depressed. This is especially important when shooting moving subjects.

TECHNICAL DATA:  1/1250 at f/8.  ISO 400.  Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens with Canon 1.4x extender for a focal length of 560mm, on Canon 7D Mark II body.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before."  --Robert Lynd

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