AIMING FOR THE SKY
IN FLIGHT Birds being birds are not always sat on a convenient post, so understanding how to shoot good ‘in flight’ images will provide the avid photographer with an important set of skills to capture greats shots.
POSITIONING Before we even look for the bird, let’s get our stance right. For the best technique, stand with your legs slightly apart and one foot in front of the other, to give you a good base. Slightly bend your knees to aid in movement. Taking hold of your camera with one hand on the shutter, place the other hand on the barrel of the lens until you find the rough balancing point, where the camera feels central. Bring your elbows in tight and you’re ready to go.
TRACKING SUBJECTS Watching a subject in the viewfinder, try to track them in position over the middle autofocus point. If you are struggling to pick subjects up and are using a zoom lens, zoom out to find your subject and then in again once you have them in the frame. The middle AF point is the best to use as it’s the most sensitive, and when starting out it’s the easiest one to lock on with. If you find it hard to keep the subject over a single point, working with multi point AF around a mid-zone reduces the risk of losing focus.
EXPOSURE With birds being in the sky they are often between yourself and the light source (the sun) so, if you shoot an image without compensating, you will simply get a silhouette of the bird you are after. To counteract this, you will often need to overexpose by around 2/3rd of a stop in order to get some detail in the underparts of a bird in the sky. Of course, for the best chances to have flattering light underneath a bird, work with low morning or evening sun.
Using central AF point for tracking