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  1. #1
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    Some tips on shooting birds in Flight

    Hi,

    From the end of next month I am doing a trip through Central Qld, Northern Territory and Inland South Australia. I am hoping to get some shots of Wedge tail eagles hopefully in flight. I think my two main locations will be Alice Springs Desert Park and Western Qld. I have a Canon 6d mkii and was not sure on the best settings to use. I know it must be on Continuous focus (AI-Servo) but I am not sure about F stop and Focus points. I am also assuming that I set the shutter to be as fast as possible. I would appreciate your thoughts.

    Also if anyone has had any experience shooting eagles on road kill, how close can you get b4 they get spooked and fly off?

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    Re: Some tips on shooting birds in Flight

    its illegal to shoot wedge tails these days; best to stick to photographing them

    lens length is more important than the camera as wte are high fliers. Unless very close; they are not fast fliers

    keep ss as high as possible -- F spot makes little difference but always better at the "sweet spot" --- you can wind the iso way up on you camera . Don't forget a few 'arty' pics like motion blurred

    most will say burst mode / tracking / multi points ; but I generally use single shot / single point / . Manual focus is handy for high fliers

    WTE on roads : they are used to vehicles so there be will times you drive closer to them. If not spooked they will likely fly to a near by tree . You could also use the vehicle as a hide

    Best to do practise [a lot] beforehand --- where are you now.

    "Central Qld, Northern Territory and Inland South Australia".
    Give a few town names you will be traveling through

    Your eagles will be slightly slower than the hornet I tried to catch yesterday -- just as well it was still in 1st gear
    P1300771-1-1.jpg
    work in progress
    Don't tell anyone; I was on the roof for a clearer view ----- not allowed on ladders these days so I had jump up there

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    Re: Some tips on shooting birds in Flight

    I will be leaving from Brisbane then on to Charleville, Longreach, Winton, Boulia, Plenty Hway to Alice, West Macs, Uluru, Coober Pedy, Oodnadatta & Strzlecki Tracks.

    I have not been past the Northern Territory border for a long time. But there are usually a lot of WTE around Boulia.

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    Re: Some tips on shooting birds in Flight

    Hi Stricky, single point single shot might be ok for the large slow moving birds but you'll miss more than you'll get.

    I do my practice on the tiny fast ones which soon sorts out your technique.


    As a general rule I'm set up well prior to even finding any birds. You only get a small window of opportunity most times so you need to be ready. My base set up is: If I'm photographing birds in bush or with a confused background I'll set to point focus with tracking. (Yes on continuous focus). ISO on Auto, Metering either point or centre depending on the light at the time. If birds are perching I'll have shutter on 1/800 (Shutter priority) for 600 mm focal length. If I'm trying to catch them in flight as well I'll use 1/2000. I let the camera choose the F stop.


    Birds in the sky with only sky or clouds for background are much easier. I set up with multi points for focus, +2 stops and centre metering. Again I leave ISO on Auto and shutter priority 1/1000 + depending on the speed of the bird. The camera should pick out the bird/s for focus out of an otherwise plain background.


    For birds in flight I tend to sight down over the 'barrel' of the lens, pan with the motion and fire off a burst. Quite often the second or third in the sequence will be the sharpest. I let the camera decide the F stop. You don't get extra points for doing it all in one shot. You miss more than you get.

    Best of luck with it.


    Fantail feeding over water flip.jpg

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    Re: Some tips on shooting birds in Flight

    Thanks, This is great info.

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    Re: Some tips on shooting birds in Flight

    Quote Originally Posted by stricky View Post
    I will be leaving from Brisbane then on to Charleville, Longreach, Winton, Boulia, Plenty Hway to Alice, West Macs, Uluru, Coober Pedy, Oodnadatta & Strzlecki Tracks.

    I have not been past the Northern Territory border for a long time. But there are usually a lot of WTE around Boulia.
    You are certainly in WTE country from Charleville on . You likely have it all planned but--- C/ville: unless you have a reason you are not missing much if you take the shortcut from Morven to Augathella
    The more interesting road to l/reach is roma-injune-springsure-emerald-barcaldine>>>. That will take you through the carnarvon gorge country where there used to be lots of wte .
    Instead of going to emerald you go spring-tambo then north .

    Winton-boulia channel country was under water earlier this year; but should be ok now. would pay to check

    A/springs wildlife park will be the best place to get up close and personal with a wte --- try to get close up details of eye-feet-face-feather patterns

    I loved driving those western plains in road trains, L/reach/winton/to the nth. Yep; long time ago
    Great photography country around winton- boulia --- I loved those hills out there

    we swagged it west of alice and were woken during the night with a dingo checking us out --- I will never forget that howl in the night . All too commercialized now

    Plenty (of bull dust) h/way; qld side; early 80s.
    Still the better 4x4 toyota made imo; underpowered and rough, yes; but tough and basically go anywhere without all the mods "needed" today. Would love to have one now.

    The mate I called spitfire; way back in the day, around 40 years ago north of Clermont qld

    If it does happen as some say; I will come back as a wte with total freedom; few natural enemies and eyes better than any camera lens ever made --- eating a dead and rotting 'roo is not so appealing

    Yep; bit jealous so have great and safe trip. Qld central highlands is my sort adoptive home country

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    Re: Some tips on shooting birds in Flight

    Thanks, Carnarvon is planned for a separate trip, hopefully next year. Was there for a day back in the 80's but needed more time. Also planning to do Mt Moffat & Kroombit tops at the same time. The Plenty has not changed much just wider.

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    Re: Some tips on shooting birds in Flight

    Well, had my first attempt at birds in Flight today. Results were very average not many in correct focus. May have been that I am trying to use Back Button Focus for the first time as well. I will go out again this afternoon and tomorrow morning to see if I can work out what went wrong. And yes I forgot to clean the lens before shooting.

    Bird1.jpgBird3.jpgBird2.jpg

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    Re: Some tips on shooting birds in Flight


  11. #11
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    Re: Some tips on shooting birds in Flight

    not sure back button focusing is the way --- but then I'm getting a bit behind such stuff.


    Read up in camera manual and set the camera as they suggest so the camera does the hard work .
    Birds in flight is not an easy subject; and the only way to improve is practice practice practice --- check your photos and practise more .

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    Re: Some tips on shooting birds in Flight

    Yeah, Birds in flight are hard, small quick ones nearly impossible for me at the moment. Went out again this morning to practice, just waiting for them to load onto the PC. The settings I am using are 1/2000 sec shutter speed, Auto ISO, continuous shooting. I have been playing with using either the centre 9 focus points and single centre focus. Only started using centre focus this morning so I will see how it went. I have set up these setting on the camera as C2 custom.

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    Re: Some tips on shooting birds in Flight

    Quote Originally Posted by stricky View Post
    Yeah, Birds in flight are hard, small quick ones nearly impossible for me at the moment. Went out again this morning to practice, just waiting for them to load onto the PC. The settings I am using are 1/2000 sec shutter speed, Auto ISO, continuous shooting. I have been playing with using either the centre 9 focus points and single centre focus. Only started using centre focus this morning so I will see how it went. I have set up these setting on the camera as C2 custom.
    You should do ok with those settings. Some cameras are quicker to focus than others and good light is critical to getting a sharp result. If the bird is back lit as they often are, you might have to add some exposure compensation to bring out a bit more detail. Don't be too disheartened if the little fast ones are hard get. They are hard for all of us and it's often the techniques you use to get close and in a good position which allows for the results you're after.

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    Re: Some tips on shooting birds in Flight

    If you are approaching a bird do you look through the viewfinder or over the top of the camera? With WTE's I think I will be slowly approaching them so I am thinking I can use the viewfinder and hopefully not trip over something. I did notice that back lit birds are a bit dark.

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    Re: Some tips on shooting birds in Flight

    Quote Originally Posted by stricky View Post
    If you are approaching a bird do you look through the viewfinder or over the top of the camera? With WTE's I think I will be slowly approaching them so I am thinking I can use the viewfinder and hopefully not trip over something. I did notice that back lit birds are a bit dark.
    All my wedgetail shots have been in flight so I've not approached them on the ground. I suspect it's similar to other Raptors though where it depends entirely what cover is available to you. I've had success using the car as a blind. Moving up quite slowly then positioning the car so I can shoot through an open window. They seem less alarmed by a vehicle. On foot I just 'wing' it and every time the conditions will be different so there's no hard and fast rules that work. I have the camera set ready to go but don't sight through the viewfinder until I'm in a good position for the photo.

    Brown Falcon.jpg

    This shot taken from the car.

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    Re: Some tips on shooting birds in Flight

    Good to know, not much cover where we are going so I will try using the car.

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    Re: Some tips on shooting birds in Flight

    Quote Originally Posted by stricky View Post
    Hi,

    From the end of next month I am doing a trip through Central Qld, Northern Territory and Inland South Australia. I am hoping to get some shots of Wedge tail eagles hopefully in flight. I think my two main locations will be Alice Springs Desert Park and Western Qld. I have a Canon 6d mkii and was not sure on the best settings to use. I know it must be on Continuous focus (AI-Servo) but I am not sure about F stop and Focus points. I am also assuming that I set the shutter to be as fast as possible. I would appreciate your thoughts.

    Also if anyone has had any experience shooting eagles on road kill, how close can you get b4 they get spooked and fly off?
    Mate,

    I was just up at Rainbow Valley over the weekend camping and on the trip up and back between there and Yulara we saw no less then 12 probably closer to 15 Wedgies. The Red Centre is heaving at the moment. With the Rock climb closing, not a minute too soon! Yulara is over flowing with rednecks coming out to climb before they can't. If you haven't booked a campsite at the camp ground here in town, even an over flow site with no power or amenities needs to be booked at the moment as this place is literally over flowing with people. Campers are being forced to set up camp at Curtin Springs 80 odd km up the road and make the trip in and back out each day to visit.

    With all the extra over and above the usual peak visitors there is more road kill and the Wedgies are making the most of it on the side of the road. My advice is if you spot one up ahead and it's safe to pull over try to do so a fair bit short of the bird and get out and approach it very slowly. You can get very close if you are lucky. They are generally in pairs so keep an eye out for the other one, usually hovering in the air above or perched in a nearish by tree. If they do take flight and you have time, wait it out, but at a decent distance, again if you are lucky they will come back. As I said there are heaps around at the moment and if you keep stopping each time you see one, eventually you will get your shot, persistence and patience is the key.

    Good luck.

    Cheers Nate

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    Re: Some tips on shooting birds in Flight

    Thanks, That is great info. Fortunately we are booked in and confirmed. Sounds like I will get lots of opportunity to get the shot I am after. Just need the weather to hold. A bit unfortunate about the crowds but we will have to deal with it.

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    Re: Some tips on shooting birds in Flight

    Quote Originally Posted by stricky View Post
    A bit unfortunate about the crowds but we will have to deal with it.
    if the tourist go there I prefer not to go there these days. Saw much of Aus in my early days when there were rougher roads, less restrictions, and so much more freedom.
    The truck window showed me lots of the country also.

    Eagle thought: you are likely to see more away from sheep country; sadly they are still considered just a pest that should be removed any way possible

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