Taking Flight

Our afternoon shoot was at a rookery tucked behind a Harley Davidson dealership. When we first arrived, there are several nests to work with anything from young chicks, to eggs to display behavior to nest building to keep us busy…

But, it’s the fly-in that I go for. As evening approaches, the birds begin to arrive giving us both a great opportunity to capture some great flight shots… and the challenge of capturing the birds in flight as the window is quite small. We have two openings to work and by the time the birds appear we only have a brief moment to acquire focus and start shooting before they have landed. Plus the exposure challenge of shooting them against the sky for a few seconds…

before they drop down below the trees and we have the green trees as our backgrounds. It’s a good 1 stop difference between the two compositions and you are busy finding the birds, acquiring focus, getting the right exposure and panning at the right speed to make it all work. Even the a bird as large as a Woodstork is a challenge as you only have a brief moment to do all this a start clicking…

If the woodstorks are a challenge, think what it must be when an Ibis, a much smaller bird, comes in at mach speed, flies by like a white blur, flares it’s wings and lands in mere seconds from the time you spot them to the time the opportunity of past.

I have to admit that my keeper ratio when shooting at the Harley Rookery goes way down but, when I nail it, it is all the more satisfying. It certainly is a great way to hone my panning skills.

Images created with Nikon D3S, AF-S 600mm f4 VR, TC-14E II on Lexar digital media