[Part 3] Capturing the Moment the Bird Takes Flight
If you encounter a bird that is just about to take flight, what should you do in order not to miss capturing this moment? In the following, a professional wild animal photographer will explain the techniques to do so using the EOS 7D Mark II. (Reported by: Gaku Tozuka)
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Predict the movement of the bird
Capturing the moment a bird takes flight might sound like a rather challenging task. However, this is not so difficult if you can predict the timing in advance. Before a bird takes flight, it would show signs such as stretching and retracting its neck (or excreting faeces in the case of birds of prey). Not only so, birds generally take off in the direction against the wind, so it is also possible to predict their direction of flight.
Next, let me explain the actual techniques to capture such a shot. Large birds such as swans need to run for a longer distance before they take off, so the key to composing the shot would be to allow space in the direction they are running. If the shoot takes place at a location that is backlit or with a cluttered background and you're using auto exposure, the brightness would vary each time you move the lens,. Therefore, why not set the exposure manually instead? If you want to freeze the movement of the subject, use the maximum aperture and take a shot at as fast a shutter speed as possible. If you are unable to raise the shutter speed, increase the ISO speed. This is the time to put the excellent high ISO speed performance of the EOS 7D Mark II to good use. Another effective way is to raise the ISO speed and narrow the aperture by one or two stops. Doing so increases the depth of field, and this technique is particularly suitable when you are using a super telephoto lens.
Level of Difficulty: Medium
Lens: Super Telephoto
Light: Oblique Light
Shutter Speed: Fast
EOS 7D Mark II/ FL: 700mm (equivalent to 1,120mm in 35mm format)/ EF500mm f/4L IS II USM + EXTENDER EF1.4×III/ Manual (f/5.6, 1/1,600 sec)/ ISO 400/ WB: Auto
Need to allow sufficient space in the composition
EOS 7D Mark II/ FL: 700mm (equivalent to 1,120mm in 35mm format)/ EF500mm f/4L IS II USM + EXTENDER EF1.4×III/ Aperture-priority AE (f/8, 1/5,000 sec)/ ISO 800/ WB: Auto
While I was trying to capture a great egret aiming at its food, it suddenly took off. I pressed the shutter button reflexively, but the face and wings of the subject were, unfortunately, outside the frame. Although the exposure and shutter speed were appropriate, the composition, which is a crucial element, left much to be desired. When capturing the moment a bird takes flight, it is necessary to create space in the direction the bird is moving in order to obtain a stable composition.
Born in 1966 in Aichi, Tozuka developed an interest in photography when he was in the third year of high school, and started to capture natural landscapes as well as wildlife animals. At the age of 20, he became absorbed in photographing wild birds after accidentally capturing a woodpecker in his photo. He has released a large number of works in media such as magazines, bulletins, books, calendars and TV commercials.
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