Shoot­ing ad­vice

Amateur Photographer - - Technique Wildlife Watch -

Type of im­ages

There is a wide range of im­age pos­si­bil­i­ties, from those taken just above wa­ter level to throw the fore­ground and back­ground com­pletely out of fo­cus, to ac­tion shots of them fly­ing, tak­ing off and land­ing. If you are go­ing for the for­mer, in­vest in an an­gle viewfinder, to save you cran­ing your neck to see through the cam­era’s viewfinder.

For flight shots, re­mem­ber that many birds pre­fer to take off and land into the wind, so con­sider your po­si­tion. The silhouette of tufted ducks is dis­tinc­tive, with the tuft on the top of their heads, which can look great when shoot­ing into the light early or late in the day. Their bright eyes also stand out fan­tas­ti­cally against dark back­grounds. One im­age I am still try­ing to get is the per­fectly timed div­ing shot – where the tip of the beak is just touch­ing the wa­ter, with a per­fect re­flec­tion!

Cam­era set­tings

I use con­tin­u­ous aut­o­fo­cus (as birds are very rarely sta­tion­ary for long) and the fastest frame rate. The lat­ter is more im­por­tant if you’re hop­ing to pho­to­graph them fly­ing or div­ing. I also use sin­glespot aut­o­fo­cus to min­imise the risk of fo­cus­ing away from the eye. Their high- con­trast plumage can pose prob­lems in ex­po­sure, re­sult­ing in po­ten­tial loss of de­tail in blown- out high­lights or dark shad­ows. By shoot­ing early or late in the day, these prob­lems can be re­duced as the light is not as harsh. Given the po­ten­tial dif­fi­cul­ties with ex­pos­ing for their plumage, you may want to con­sider us­ing man­ual ex­po­sure if the light is con­stant. With this method, you can take an ex­po­sure read­ing off a neu­tral colour, such as grass, then dial it in and ad­just as re­quired by check­ing the his­togram to en­sure you’re not los­ing de­tail.

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