The art of timing .
“Timing is everything” so they say, this is true of any kind of photography, but is especially true of wildlife and landscape photography.
This photo below looks simple enough, but it took a wee bit of patience to get what I wanted.
I could see the burst of sunlight shooting downwards through a hole in the cloud and I could see a triangle shaped stack of drift wood on the sand in front of me .
I could track that sun burst and knew if if the cloud did not close over, it would shower down behind the stack setting it apart from the rest of the image, so I waited for more than a few moments to get the shot.
Putting some thought into the shot and being patient can really give the photographer a great deal of satisfaction. The result speaks for itself.
For landscapes the rule is get there early and prepare to stay late.
Sunset and sunrise
Bird Action .
I consider bird photography the most challenging of all photographic disciplines, esp small birds that never sit still for long .
Here is a perfect example of one such species of bird, the Grey Warbler or riroriro.
Small, flighty, jittery, hardly ever still and in one place for more than a split second , very quick off the mark, these birds demand your total %100 concentration .
Whoops too slow on the shutter this time, the birds head is facing away from the camera, no score Tony.
I timed it right and nailed this one .
Way too slow.
Well yes this is a lovely image of a stalk but not much else , bad , bad boy, Tony lol
This Time I was on to it , good boy Tony.
So how do you prepare for birds like the Warbler.
1. pre-focus your lens to where you expect your bird to most likely sit. This way the lens doesn’t waste time hunting for the bird.
With little birds you expect them to be close so set your long lens 300mil and longer to focus on the 2-3 meter setting most lenses have.
2. get the light right, you want it coming from behind you over your shoulders, this can really help speed up the focal system to lock onto your target.
3 Don’t muck around with your shot. As soon as you know the focus system is locking on to your bird fire off a burst of images at high speed.
Watching the light through the view finder.
Lying flat on the ground I was tracking this Wood Duck (below) in the early morning light.
The bird was moving and I was locked on to the bird keeping it in the frame and focused. Click went the shutter
The profile was awesome, the focus was perfect, but I had failed to notice that the birds head had moved in the shadows.
The light was now falling on the body of the bird, but not on its head.
Without light on the birds head this image is destined for the recycle bin .
The bird did an about turn and came back and I tried again, this time I got the lighting right but the birds posture was not as dramatic.
Oh well you cant win them all I guess.
Once again I timed this shot wrong , not only did I not see the floating bird, but the focus locked onto it instead of my intended target.
I stayed on the bird and tried again.
This is how we roll.
Tracking and staying on target.
We have all seen the classic English Spitfire vs the German Messerschmitt 109 sequences at the movies.
The hero in the Spitfire hunts for his target , finds it, tracks it, locks onto it , fires away and eventually blows it out of the sky.
Photographing small flying birds is not that much different.
The trick is to get that bird in the centre of the view finder and let rip and keep shooting while trying to keep that bird dead centre.
Just because the bird moves away from the centre and goes out of focus, don’t give up, don’t just stop, keep firing and try and re-acquire the bird.
Below is a sequence , I lost the bird , a small Cape Petrel as it flew past very close but I stayed with it shooting all the way, until it landed, or in this case crash landed on the surface of the water.
Just wing it but dont give up.
As the bird swung round the end of the boat I kept shooting, catching up with it as it crash landed , had I not stayed with it, I would have missed out on this very amusing image.
When things go right because you pre-empt .
Getting to know your target species can give you some real advantages .
These four last images are a good example.
Ducks when washing will dip their heads and backs completely under the water 2 -3 times before rising up and wildly flapping their wings.
When you see this behaviour you can get ready for the shot.
Here goes the dip.
Now we are ready for the flap.
Once again I saw the dip and prepared to catch the coming eruption.
My timing was perfect with this female Wood Duck
I hope this has been helpful to you peoples out there.
Photography can be a very richly rewarding hobby or obsession, its a journey of discovery and most certainly one about ourselves .
How we go about that journey and treat other people that are on their journey says a lot about who we are as people. ❤
Up coming events :
Cook Straight Albatross adventure
We still have a few seats to fill for our pelagic trip out of Wellington on the 12th of November.
$150.00 per person,
Max 12 people on board, per trip.
7am – 2pm , 7 hours on the water with the birds
1 hour steaming out and back with the birds chasing us all the way back in.
Roast Chicken lunch provided .
Snacks and tea on board on demand.
Deep sea fishing also available for an extra $30.00.
This is a wonderful opportunity to sea Albatross and a variety of deep sea birds right up close.