Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Recent Photo Outings and Bird Photography Tips

Lately I have been taking a large number of Great Blue Heron photos, partly because they have been the most active subjects that I have been coming across. I have also been seeing an increase in the number of Canadian Geese in the area, with a few of the pairs now having goslings. The Geese can be very aggressive, but if you approach them slowly they are unlikely to attack.

Nikon 300mm F4 AF-S, ISO200, 1/2000s @F4.5

I have used my teleconverter almost every time I've gone out to take photos during the last month and half, but today I didn't. Partly due to the events of my last outing, where I had some focusing problems. I like using the TC, but there are times when I think that the reduced auto focus accuracy is too much of a price to pay. Contrast on the subject becomes far more important when you use the TC on the 300mm F4 AF-S Nikkor, at least on the D300. Maybe users of the D700 and D3(s) don't have those same issues? 

Back to the Great Blue Heron photos. In the past I've had people ask me how I get so close to some of the Herons, and the answer has several components to it. First of all, I pick days when there are very few people on the trails at the Bird sanctuary, which means that I'm not worrying about other people coming along and scaring off my subject. Secondly, the way you approach the birds makes a big difference. Sudden movements will always scare the Heron's away. Slow movement is the key to success here, if the bird is starting to look scared, stop moving and stay still. Get low, down on at least one knee once you are close enough to get the photo you want, go down slowly! Take some shots vertically and horizontally till you find the composition you like. Consider the background of the shot as well. If there is too much going on that will draw the viewers eyes off the subject. 

Don't just hold down the shutter and take hundreds of photos, seriously! I see a lot of people do this, and just when the buffer on their cameras fill up, the bird does something interesting and they miss the shot. I like to take short bursts of 5-10 photos most of the time, even though the buffer on the D300 can hold 17 RAW images. Keeping some extra space in the buffer gives to the flexibility to get some good shots if there is a sudden change of events.