Birds-in-Flight (BIF) Photography

Sandhill crane fly across the sky

There are lots of genre’s of photography: sports, wildlife, landscape, portrait, etc., just to name a few.

But Birds-in-Flight is it’s own animal, forgive the pun. Before embarking on the long trek to Whitewater Draw I watched dozens of online video’s to help assure that I might come home with some decent images.

I have always shot single point focus as I take a lot of close up animals and landscape photos. But for BIF it was recommended that I use zone area to focus on a larger area (and improve my chances of getting a sharp image). While I was there, a kind photographer, JT, suggested I use the eye-focus that my camera offered. I must say, I found it very awkward and somewhat difficult. However, once I got more used to it, I found myself enjoying the fast focus ability of these new fancy cameras. Thanks, JT, for the great tip.

The eye focus had a particularly hard time picking out the eye in darker conditions, so I had to switch back to single point (or nine-point) focus for those situations. During the daylight hours I had better success, yet still struggled for the camera to focus on what I wanted to while recomposing the shot.

A fast shutter speed is essential to obtain a sharp photo, and not a streaky blur. However, in the early morning hours it was difficult to maintain a fast shutter speed, large enough aperture to get decent depth of field, and as low as possible ISO to reduce noise, even on a tripod. Admittedly, the daytime photos were easier to capture tack sharp pix.

I did learn that the closer the bird, and less distractions, the better the focus worked – and made for a cleaner more interesting photo. I also quickly realized that ‘bird butts’ make for a less than interesting photos, and it was best to pan across to get a profile or head shot.

Of course, wildlife photography is best with action shots and ‘gesture’. If I can capture something that has the animal doing something, or looking cute, that photo stands above the rest.

I had a hard time picking out the interaction among the birds from the flocks that surround them. With these high mega-pixel cameras, I was able to crop in to focus the attention and cut the clutter.

It helps to be in the right place at the right time. The best way to do that is scope out the area, find the best spot to take that great photo, and the best time. We were at Whitewater Draw for 4 days, allowing us ample opportunity for photographic greatness. Being prepared also means having the right equipment for the shoot. A fixed telephoto has very narrow flexibility, while a medium zoom provides options and a variety of story telling photos.

I took a lot of photos at varying focal lens with different lens to tell the complete story of the event, from the massive morning lift off to the late afternoon fly-ins, from the sandhill cranes interacting together, their mingling in the pools, to fly by’s. This diverse collection conveys a better sense of Whitewater Draw.

Above all else, I found practice was the best tool to improve my BIF shots. What do they say… practice makes you lucky. So true!

See more bird photos here… https://kritterspix.com/2022/02/06/whitewater-draw-workshop/ and https://kritterspaw.com/2022/02/06/birds-a-feather/

2 thoughts on “Birds-in-Flight (BIF) Photography

  1. I love these shots, especially the single bird flying across the layers of the mountain. That’s a winner for sure. I know you have to be patient and you did it. Bravo!!

    Like

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