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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Bird Talk
Thread started 12 Jun 2017 (Monday) 11:26
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Shooting swallows in Flight advice needed.

 
Bsmooth
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Jun 12, 2017 11:26 |  #1

Since I'm pretty much blasting away, and not hitting a sausage (so to speak) I'm going to ask for advice.
Right now I use a 1DMKIV and the latest canon 100-400v2. I just finished a weekend of shooting both days,and wound up with not 1 image that was usable.
Yes I know these are probably the hardest little guys to shoot. But I have seen images posted here and I know it can be done. I've tried using AF, which just isn't fast enough. I've tried zone shooting as well with not much luck.
My issue isn't just enough speed, but also one of exposure. I was shooting this weekend in perfect sunny conditions with the sun at my back, at 800 ISO and between 6.3 - 7.1 Aperture, yet images still don't have enough light. Been trying to keep shutter speeds between 1/1250 and 1/1600, more than that and images are even darker. Also shooting in Manual exposure as well for more control.
I just love the challenge, and I know it is hard, maybe manual focusing perhaps?
Suggestions and or new equipment suggestions(within reason) are quite welcome.


Bruce

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PhotosGuy
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Post has been edited 3 months ago by PhotosGuy.
Jun 12, 2017 12:10 |  #2

Bsmooth wrote in post #18376693 (external link)
Also shooting in Manual exposure as well for more control.

I can't help with general BF shooting because I suck at it. But Manual exposure I can help you with.
First, any time you have a problem you should try to run a few tests to help to zero in on the problem. Especially " in perfect sunny conditions with the sun at my back", it should be pretty easy to zero in on the right exposure without having to think about clouds.

Second, this is what I generally use: Need an exposure crutch?
Good luck! Oh, & maybe look for a bigger, slower target to practice on? ; )


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Have you thought about making your own book? // Need an exposure crutch?
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Larry ­ Johnson
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Post has been last edited 3 months ago by Larry Johnson. 2 edits done in total.
Jun 12, 2017 13:33 |  #3

Bruce,

For heaven's sake use AF, capturing these little guys is difficult enough.
The best advice that I can offer is to shoot them on a windy day when they periodically glide or hover. Against a plain blue background probably helps the AF system.

I managed to capture a few shots using a 60D and 100-400 v1. (Some of my early flickr shots show my settings.) I remember trying a variety of techniques, but never concluded which one worked best. I think it mostly comes down to shoot thousands of shots and luck.

Edit: I suppose you could use an infrared shutter release. I don't really know how they work, or if they work in conjunction with AF. You might have to prefocus on a spot and hope a bird will fly to it.


_______________
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3jc
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Jun 12, 2017 13:57 |  #4

There are a few shots on my Flickr that have the EXIF data on them Auto focus for sure. AI Servo, Shutter speed 1/1250 or faster, ISO 800 - 1600, F 5.6 - 8

IMAGE: https://c1.staticflickr.com/2/1576/26284536312_cc66cb95e5_c.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/G3F7​Uy] (external link)160409_byb_0037-1 (external link) by Jerry Chambers (external link), on Flickr



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filam
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Jun 13, 2017 12:53 |  #5

Bagged my first Swallow in flight I used a 7dmk2 with all 65 point AF @1/2000 sec. f/6.3 600 mm iso 500. Exposed for the fastest shutter speed with out over exposing the sky. I used a tripod and gimble head and used 10fps to try and capture them.

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WiscTim
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Post has been edited 3 months ago by WiscTim.
Jun 13, 2017 22:33 |  #6

I look forward to seeing some suggestions. At the end of April I spent a couple of hours trying to get some swallow photos. Out of over 700 photos, I only have a half dozen that are presentable and only for web use.

I was using a 7D and Sigma 150-600. It was an overcast day so I was struggling to get enough light and shutter speed, and most were AF servo, center point with expansion, shutter speed around 1/1000, high-speed continuous shutter, f/7.1, and ISO 1600. I think a higher shutter speed would have helped get me more photos with less blur. I would hold down the shutter and shoot continuously as they flew past. I shot using manual exposure, taking an initial metering off the trees on the far side of the river (since exposing based on the water would underexpose the birds) and revising the settings after reviewing the initial images (although when post-processing I found I still slightly underexposed the birds).

It was a windy day and the swallows would fly into the wind along the shoreline looking for insects. This slowed them down and made it easier to follow them, although they still darted side-to-side. The wind also created waves, and the autofocus locked on the waves as much as the birds. A smoother background would have helped. I zoomed out and left a lot of space around the birds in the viewfinder for shooting and then cropped in post. They darted around too quickly to try to fill the viewfinder while taking an image.

It was fun trying to get the images, and I hope to do better the next time I get a chance.

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PixelPusher
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Jun 14, 2017 00:58 |  #7

I tried one day and just got dizzy trying to keep the swallow in the view finder! Then I noticed a pattern of flight that they would circle back, so at the same point I would prefocus to a branch by that area, set it on manual focus to that same point mounted on a tripod and wait till they hit that area and hit the shutter at the high speed setting.

Got lucky.

IMAGE: https://photos.smugmug.com/Birds/Song-Birds/i-MV6nGjX/0/61940a17/XL/IMG_8294-XL.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://cone.smugmug.c​om ...irds/i-MV6nGjX/A&lb=1&s=A] (external link)
Song Birds (external link) by cone (external link) on Smugmug

Robert
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evelakes
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Jun 14, 2017 08:44 |  #8

I would recommend spot metering because they are natural dark birds, then you need the shutterspeed as high as possible starting from 1/1250 up.
Try to study them in flight patterns if there is a nest closeby use that position and look for branches nearby if there are younglings they try to feed them on
the branches ideal moment because they start to hover. Just as said before on windy days it's more easy to get them in focus.
And try to get them when they fly over still water drinking in flight you get the reflection as a bonus.

IMAGE: https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4200/34690202460_a9af9ed494_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/URsm​AY] (external link)swallow in flight 2 (external link) by richard evers (external link), on Flickr

IMAGE: https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4184/33464800714_c1cf7ca619_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/SZaR​mE] (external link)Mangrove Swallows at the Tarcoles river_ (external link) by richard evers (external link), on Flickr

IMAGE: https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4158/34265821076_296b7452ca_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/UcXh​Ny] (external link)Mangrove Swallows at the Tarcoles river 1 (external link) by richard evers (external link), on Flickr

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flickr (external link)https://www.flickr.com​/photos/97611076@N06/ (external link)

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D ­ Jacobs
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Jun 18, 2017 04:50 |  #9

I would think that manual focus would be even more of a challenge, especially if they are flying quickly?


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D ­ Jacobs
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Jun 18, 2017 04:51 as a reply to WiscTim's post |  #10

What's the lowest shutter speed you would recommend for crisp shots?


5D Mark II / 7D / 70-200mm f/2.8L IS / 24-105mm f/4L / 17-40mm f/4L / 600 EX-RT / Need to stop before more things are listed here...

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birddog59
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Joined Jun 2008
Jun 23, 2017 23:40 |  #11

PixelPusher wrote in post #18378022 (external link)
I tried one day and just got dizzy trying to keep the swallow in the view finder! Then I noticed a pattern of flight that they would circle back, so at the same point I would prefocus to a branch by that area, set it on manual focus to that same point mounted on a tripod and wait till they hit that area and hit the shutter at the high speed setting.

Got lucky.

QUOTED IMAGE
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://cone.smugmug.c​om ...irds/i-MV6nGjX/A&lb=1&s=A] (external link)
Song Birds (external link) by cone (external link) on Smugmug


Stunning




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PixelPusher
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Jun 25, 2017 12:14 as a reply to birddog59's post |  #12

Thanks!!


Robert
7DII, 7DI, 400D, 500 F4L IS, 400 F5.6L, 70-200 F2.8L IS, 17-55 F2.8 IS, 420EX, Gitzo 3541XLS, Wimberley WH-200 VII
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Capn ­ Jack
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Jun 25, 2017 13:07 |  #13

Take pictures of them next time I cut the grass. There were at least 4 of them buzzing around me today. A couple of times they flew between the mower and me.




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Lester ­ Wareham
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Jul 13, 2017 11:52 |  #14

Bsmooth wrote in post #18376693 (external link)
Since I'm pretty much blasting away, and not hitting a sausage (so to speak) I'm going to ask for advice.
Right now I use a 1DMKIV and the latest canon 100-400v2. I just finished a weekend of shooting both days,and wound up with not 1 image that was usable.
Yes I know these are probably the hardest little guys to shoot. But I have seen images posted here and I know it can be done. I've tried using AF, which just isn't fast enough. I've tried zone shooting as well with not much luck.
My issue isn't just enough speed, but also one of exposure. I was shooting this weekend in perfect sunny conditions with the sun at my back, at 800 ISO and between 6.3 - 7.1 Aperture, yet images still don't have enough light. Been trying to keep shutter speeds between 1/1250 and 1/1600, more than that and images are even darker. Also shooting in Manual exposure as well for more control.
I just love the challenge, and I know it is hard, maybe manual focusing perhaps?
Suggestions and or new equipment suggestions(within reason) are quite welcome.

I can't I have great sucess on this, but from whaching these birds like this if you can find the right location in windy conditions they slow right down as they circle back into the wind. Might give you a fighting chance.


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Shooting swallows in Flight advice needed.
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