Freeze na­ture on the wing

Practical Photography (UK) - - 10 Clicks -

THE CAM­ERA’S ABIL­ITY TO freeze time re­mains one of the most ap­peal­ing as­pects of pho­tog­ra­phy, and bird pho­tog­ra­pher Roger Hunt (in­sta­­pho­to­graphic) has honed his shoot­ing skills to the point where he can stop a bird in flight and present these beau­ti­ful and grace­ful crea­tures as static works of art.

“My pas­sion is to cap­ture birds in flight in the wild and to date, I’ve pho­tographed over 60 dif­fer­ent species in the UK in the last four years. It can be ex­tremely chal­leng­ing and so it helps to have good tech­nique and also know about their dif­fer­ent habi­tats and be­hav­iour.

“The im­age of the com­mon tern hov­er­ing was taken early af­ter­noon in June, at RSPB Mid­dle­ton Lakes. I very rarely shoot to­wards the light, but on this day, although very bright, the sky was slightly over­cast. Terns make per­fect sub­jects for high-key images set against a light, bright sky be­cause their form and el­e­gance is of­ten por­trayed at its best. This par­tic­u­lar tern had been fly­ing at speed over the lake and I tracked the bird in the viewfinder un­til it spot­ted a fish be­low and pro­ceeded to hover. “It’s not pos­si­ble to know when the ac­tion will take place, or at what dis­tance from you, so a good tele­photo lens is an es­sen­tial – for all of my flight pho­tog­ra­phy I use the Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM, some­times cou­pled with the 1.4x III con­verter. Tech­nique and pa­tience are also key. “The im­age of the red kites com­ing to­gether in flight was taken at Bwlch Nant yr Arian in Ceredigion. These birds can of­ten be seen in aerial play­fights and even ex­chang­ing food on the wing. This be­hav­iour hap­pens in an in­stant and so to im­prove the chances of cap­tur­ing the ac­tion I made sure I was zoomed out be­fore spot­ting the ac­tion and then fir­ing off a burst of high-speed shots.”

Above A pair of red kites caught play­fight­ing in the air.

Left A ver­sa­tile 100-400mm lens like this is ideal for na­ture shots.

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