One of my favorite things to do is photograph birds in flight. It’s not always a cake walk. Sometimes I find myself so frustrated that I have to give up for a while to keep from throwing my camera. In this gallery you may notice that it is composed mainly of shorebirds. That’s because I am most often in a place where these particular species are found. Many of these particular photos were taken at Jetty Park in Cape Canaveral Florida. The fishing pier allows for eye level shots that I feel are far more appealing than up in sky perspectives.
In order to get in flight shots with my Nikon D80 and my 70-300mm VR lens I find that the most important things to consider are the light (as always), the use of a fast shutter speed, and what perspective you are shooting from. When I mention light, I mean not only the diffusion but the intensity and where the sun is in the sky. Backlit in flight shots are nearly impossible to correct, and unless you are aiming for a certain feeling in your photography (like dawn or dusk), generally aren’t attractive. The intensity of the light can really affect your white balance on light colored birds, and if you use it appropriately, can really enhance your subject by creating that special “twinkle” in their eye.
The other really important part of bird flight photography is the ability to anticipate the subjects movement. Birds generally defecate before flying, and often do some kind of posturing including head bobbing, calling, and neck stretching. In flight, subtle wing and neck movements can guide your ability to keep up. I also find that for most in flight shots tripods are often a hindrance, and while they may be necessary for some lenses, can really impair your abilities.
My goal for this fall and winter season is to get some really special in flight shots of ducks, and *maybe* some songbirds. Wishing you good light -Jamie