birds

Some Tips for Photographing Birds in Flight

Photograph by Chris Klapheke
If you will be attending one of my 2011 Bosque del Apache workshops, which I am leading with Juan Pons and Chris Klapheke, go ahead and bookmark this page and read it again before the workshops. You'll also find several useful links at the end of this post.

Photo Tips:
Photograph by Rick Sammon
• Bring wide-angle and telephoto lenses so you can "tell the whole story" of the adventure.
• A 400mm lens may be long enough for your shot. You get very close to the birds.
• For sunrise and pre-sunrise shots, you'll need a tripod.
• Set you camera up for back-button focus, so you can focus and shoot independently from each other.
• Bring a flashlight (head mounted flashlights are best) so you can see what you are doing during the pre-dawn hours.
• The "blast off" happens at dawn. Don't miss it. However, there are plenty of other bird photography opportunity throughout the day around the ponds.
• During the midday hours, shoot HDR in and around Socorro, where you'll most likely be staying.
• Use slow speeds to add a sense of motion to your pictures.
• Use a shutter speed of 1/1000th of a second to "freeze" birds in flight.
• Take bird portraits and environmental portraits.

Travel Tips:
Photograph by Rick Sammon
• Dress very, very warmly for the early morning shoots. It can be well below freezing.
• Pack hand and toe warmers.
• Gloves? A must.
• Dress in layers, because it warms up fast.
• Whatever you do, don't miss the Green Chile Cheeseburger at the Owl Bar and Cafe - on you way to and from the "blast off" area. Look for me there!
• Don't forget your sunglasses and sunscreen. And hat.
• Drive carefully on your way from Albuquerque to Socorro. The crosses on the side of the road illustrate why....

Here are some links to posts on bird photography and my some of my other workshops:
Photograph by Rick Sammon
Tips for photographing birds in flight

More tips and accessories for bird photography

Get the most out of a photo workshop

Photographing Birds in Flight

For great prices/service/advice on accessories, check out Outdoor Photo Gear.

Explore the light,
Rick

Take Your Time, Take a Slow Walk Before You Take a Picture

Here's a very simple outdoor photography tip, but one that can be very effective.

When you see a potential subject, take a deep breath, relax, and take a nice walk around the subject. You may be surprised at new photo possibilities when you look at a subject from different angles (and with different lenses).

After two short walks . . .

The top right image was a surprise! It looks as though the kestrel has eyes in the back of its head (to ward off predators, no doubt.) I had never seen a photo like this before.

The bottom right picture was also a surprise. I noted an interesting rock formation while hiking in the Alabama Hills, CA, but the foot did not reveal itself until I followed my own advice about walking around a subject.

Explore the Light,
Rick
P.S. If you play golf: Playing golf is a great way to ruin a walk on a nice day :-)