Photographing Birds In Flight

Photographing Birds In Flight

Photographing birds in air travel is among the most challenging elements of wildlife photography. You can’t defeat it because its birds carrying out what they do greatest.

Getting Started

The ultimate way to get started has been large easy subjects such as for example gulls. For my initial attempt I visited the local recreation area and had a pal toss seed to the gulls. This brought them flying over right away, giving me a lot of opportunities for flight pictures.

Once you have practiced with gulls and also have some confidence, progress an even to ducks, geese and swans.


Set your camera to evaluative metering and convert continuous focus on. On Canon cameras that is known as AI servo and on Nikon cameras it’s called constant servo. Turning this setting on means your camera will continually focus on the bird since it flies. If the background isn’t cluttered light all the AF points and invite the camera to monitor across them. If the background is cluttered, light an individual AF point, generally the guts one, as it is commonly more accurate.

Supply the auto focus system period to lock to the bird. Unless you genuinely have a little window of chance, it’s well worth sacrificing the first couple of seconds of action to get the focus locked.

Also turn continuous shooting about, in order that when you press the shutter release button you may take plenty of shots in quick succession. Thus giving you the best potential for obtaining a good shot through the short period when the chance is there.

Shutter Speed

To freeze the birds movement as it flies goal for a higher shutter speed. I generally make an effort to get a shutter velocity of at least 1/1000s but 1/500s or even more usually works.

An alternative technique is by using a slow shutter velocity to blur the bird’s motion. I look for a shutter speed of around 1/30s is effective.


Be sure you check your exposure. White skies will technique your camera, leading to it to underexpose. You may want to overexpose by 2 stops or even more.


Attempting to compose a go of a bird in trip calls for some practice. You generally only have a couple of seconds to pan with the bird and setting it up in frame could be a challenge.

Shots generally appearance better if the bird is flying in to the frame, giving it all space to go into. And also creating a far more pleasing composition, that is also the simplest way to adhere to it together with your camera. If the bird fills about 50 % of the frame after that that is easy because you may use the guts focus point. If it generally does not then you will have to use an off middle point.

The difficulty with that is that the off center focusing points aren’t as accurate as the guts one.

The safe option is to find the center point and crop off the medial side afterwards. Once you’re confident you have the center stage shot nailed you can risk selecting another point.


Knowing more about trip behaviour will assist you to obtain the shots you are looking for.

Most birds have a tendency to take off and property facing the wind. Understanding just that one thing enables you to know the optimum time to obtain specific shots.

The optimum time to get front lighting is when the wind is blowing from roughly the same direction as sunlight is shining. In the event that you then placement yourself so the sunlight is usually behind you, you should obtain more shots of front side lit birds coming in your direction to land or removing.

If sunlight and wind are approximately 90 degrees apart after that it’s ideal for taking side on shots with the bird flying parallel to the plane of the sensor. When acquiring shots like this understand that the wing placement, as discussed below, turns into more important.

The ideal time so you can get a back again lit shot is when the wind is blowing roughly in to the sun. Placement yourself so the sun is before you. This is often ideal for taking shots where in fact the sun is usually shining through the wings.

It will offer you considerable advantage if you have studied the behaviour of the species you’re photographing. Imagine the type of shots you can get if you understood a lot more about them.

Wing Position

If the bird is flying parallel to the sensor plane make an effort to take your shot using its wings either fully up or fully down. A lot of the period this results in an improved photograph and it means that the wings are obvious of the head.

If its flying angled in your direction after that any wing position will continue to work.

The wing position may also provide a different feel to a photograph. With the wings completely down it could give even more of a “gliding experience” to the movement.

Leave enough room for the wing motion otherwise you might clip the edges of wings. Also be careful that in the event that you focus on your body the wing’s downward movement may cause you to reduce focus.

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