Archives for December 2011

Bosque del Apache…Flights Of Fantasy

If you want to practice working with birds in flight there is no place better than Bosque. With the quality and quantity of birds, it’s like being in an arcade where the birds come one after another and you try to hit as many as you can. There are exposure issues to deal with as the birds drop from the sky (one exposure) to land with trees and fields in the background (another exposure) all the while trying to keep the bird in the frame without clipping it’s wings and the eye sharp. What aperture/shutter speed combo will give you the degree of depth of field and stop action or blur motion and what ISO is required to achieve this balance of exposure? All this goes through my mind on a sub-conscious level as I find a subject in my viewfinder and begin tracking it, firing when it is within the zone and following until it has passed…

Even when I am working with a fast shutter speed I like to have the wing tips blurred. I find that it adds to the sense of motion that stop action doesn’t convey…


Nikon D3S with AF-S 600mm f4 VR, TC-14E II

Depending on the direction of the wind, the birds may come from left to right (above), right to left…


Nikon D3S with AF-S 600mm f4 VR, TC-14E II

Or, right down the pike, straight into the camera…


Nikon D3S with AF-S 600mm f4 VR

Once the sun has dropped behind the distant hills, maintaining a fast shutter speed is nearly impossible even with a high ISO, rather than pack it in, I work on my blur pans. The key is to keep the eye sharp while blurring the wings and the background turns to a soft blur of colors. My keeper ratio goes way down but, the rewards are worth the effort when I nail a few shots…


Nikon D3S with AF-S 600mm f4 VR, TC-17E II