Saturday, July 3, 2010

On a Wing and a Prayer

Well, the wing is obvious and the prayer is me praying that I can actually get a decent shot.

There’s one particular area just a few minutes from where I live that is home to the Turkey Vulture. You can easily find them circling in and around the escarpment’s thermal updrafts. The trick to shooting them is to find a decent spot and wait for them to come to you. My first attempts had me driving up and down the road from spot to spot, essentially going to them; however, once I got there they would be gone. The trick I found was to just pick a spot, bring along some patience and wait. In this case it was worthwhile.

I've been attempting some BIF (birds in flight) photos for a while. One of the challenges has been to find the optimum camera settings. I think I'm getting closer as these are best I've captured so far (previous attempts did not warrant screen time so you won’t see them here).

The simple things about these shot are that these Turkey Vultures are not that fast so it’s relatively easy to lock focus and track them while panning the camera. Second, from my vantage point I was shooting up with the sky as a backdrop, which meant that there were no other distracting elements that could pull the focus away. Third, they were also flying fairly low, which put them within a decent range to use the 70-200mm with a little cropping in post.

Overall, I’m pleased with the results.

For those interested in all of the technical stuff, here’s the set-up:

Camera: Nikon D300
Lens: 70-200 f2.8
Shutter Priority: 1/1000
Aperture: f5.6
Release Mode: Continuous High
AF Mode: Continuous
AF-C Priority: Release + Focus
Focus Point: Centre Point
Dynamic AF Area: 9 points (9 points seems to acquire the target faster if it leaves the centre point than 21 or 51 points – more is not always better)



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