Star­ling mur­mu­ra­tion Cap­ture a shape

Na­ture photographer Roe­selien Rai­mond shares how she cap­tured this spec­tac­u­lar shot of star­lings

Digital Camera World - - PHOTO PROJECTS -

Years ago, I stum­bled upon the phe­nom­e­non of a star­ling mur­mu­ra­tion, and I was in awe. I had never seen so many an­i­mals gath­ered to­gether. The way this mass of birds man­aged to move in sync re­ally struck me, and I got hooked. It’s not an easy sub­ject to find, though. Star­ling mur­mu­ra­tions can only be found at cer­tain times of the year in spe­cific ar­eas, and be­ing in the right place at the right time is quite a chal­lenge.

To be hon­est, I had count­less un­suc­cess­ful at­tempts, when the birds just de­cided to go to sleep im­me­di­ately; or they did mur­mu­rate, but they didn’t cre­ate any shapes; or the light was too bad to shoot any­thing de­cent. Lit­er­ally ev­ery­thing has to come to­gether. But when that hap­pens, it is worth ev­ery ef­fort. It’s like watch­ing an enor­mous air­show with thou­sands of birds cre­at­ing one beau­ti­ful shape af­ter an­other.

For this par­tic­u­lar photo, I went to the same place many times. I knew the time they started their show and I stud­ied the weather fore­casts. But it was al­ways a sur­prise where ex­actly they would fly.

Af­ter a long cloudy pe­riod, one evening the sun was fi­nally vis­i­ble. I so hoped the birds would show up… And they did. As if en­cour­aged by the beau­ti­ful colours of the sky, they cre­ated the most won­der­ful shapes. I couldn’t be­lieve my luck when all these birds sud­denly flocked to­gether into one gi­ant bird shape. Mir­a­cles do hap­pen! All I had to do was set my com­po­si­tion and check my set­tings, then click to im­mor­talise this in­cred­i­bly cool mo­ment.

This photo was taken with a wide-an­gle lens, which was nec­es­sary to cap­ture all these many birds in one frame. It’s taken

af­ter sun­set, in low-light con­di­tions, which re­quires a high ISO. This might re­sult in noise, but the birds are mov­ing fast, and I prefer some noise over mo­tion blur. The birds didn’t re­act to my pres­ence, which let me po­si­tion my­self in the best place.

To take a shot like this, try to find back­ground in­for­ma­tion about when and where your sub­jects can be found and what be­hav­iour to ex­pect. Also, don’t for­get to look and lis­ten. This phe­nom­e­non looks good in pho­tos, but it’s noth­ing com­pared to the ex­pe­ri­ence it­self!

Photo taken with a Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens at 40mm; 1/200 sec at f/6.3, ISO 320

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