Thursday, 28 October 2010

A few song birds

A difficult wildlife subject to photograph for me are small song birds, especially at this time of year when there is lots of foliage for them to hide in, with them at the best of times being twitchy, nervous and are constantly moving around.  To get as bigger image in my viewfinder as possible I brought my Canon 30D out of retirement, having a crop 1.6x giving a little more ‘reach’ over my usual camera, added together with a 500mm lens plus converter giving my a total of around 950mm!

The lighting was poor, being quite dull and overcast with the occasional light rain which meant shooting as low as 1/320th of a second and that despite having the cameras ISO at 1600, as a result of this I set my camera up on a support so at least camera shake was reduced.  Rather than trying to follow them with the lens, I pre-focused on branches I could see they regularly moved to and from, waited until they landed on them and made any quick focusing adjustments.  Some of the results are as below.

One problem I did find was focusing on the bird.  Most wildlife photographs you want the eyes to be in focus, but using the centre focusing point and filling the frame, this would result in body would as the main focus point, and at f4.5 that can throw the eyes out of focus, so I found myself manually tweaking the focusing, even then I wasn’t always quick enough before the bird was gone.

At one point during the three hour shoot, the birds suddenly scattered and I looked up just in time to see the flash of a Sparrowhawk which had just made a play for one of the birds, without success.  It was another 15 minutes before they settled down and returned.



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