Monday, 3 August 2009

RFI - Flight Shots

I know that this blog has the occasional lurking photographer now and again, or at least people who know a damn sight more about cameras and photography than me. I'm still wandering around with the manual looking puzzled. I'm interested in comments regarding camera settings on flight shots, take these two for example from yesterday

Now neither of them are particularly well focussed but there is a certain amount of blur in the wing area that I seem to be getting all the time. The Crossbill was shot at f7.1, 1/400, ISO 500; the Whinchat f5.6, 1/250 ISO 800. Should I be shooting at faster shutter speeds? Higher ISO or both? Do you set your camera specifically for flight shots in anticipation? Any advice gratefully received.


Clare said...

It all depends on what you are going for, and everything is a trade off. If you are wanting to "freeze" the birds wing so there is no blur, you have two choices, a fast shutter speed or a flash. How fast depends on how fast the wings are moving.

Now to get that fast shutter speed, you need to open up the aperture. So you lose depth of field, and you can only open it so much. That forces you in lower light to increase the ISO, which results in more noise (digital) or grain (film) in the image.

Every thing works in "stops" and when you increase one, you have to decrease another in order to have the same exposure. Decreasing shutter speed by a stop, say from 1/500 to 1/1000, means you have to 1) open the aperture by a stop, say from f11 to f8, or 2) increase the ISO, say from 200 to 400.

Little Brown Job said...

I've not really tried to freeze wing movement before but I would image you would need a faster shutter speed than 1/400, I'd try experimenting with speeds of of 1/1000 and above. As Clare says, to get the faster speeds in lower light, you need to set the aperture to something like 6.3 and the iso may have to go up to 800 but then the shots get grainy. Sometimes, if there isn't enough light, it's just not possible.

As for focus, I've read about 2 methods for flight shots, one is to use continuous focusing and track the bird, the other is to pre-focus or manual focus where you think the bird will pass and shoot several times as the bird passes and hope for the best.

Here's an article I found recently which is pretty good.


Anonymous said...

Hi Alan,
No help at all on the technicalities, I'm afraid, but I must say I like that first shot, especially, a lot. The sense of movement is what makes it.

Alan Tilmouth said...

Thanks for the advice, all I have to do now is try and put it to good use.

Orchids and Nature said...

Love the shot of the Grass-of-Parnassus,I've been seaching for it over the last few weeks in all it's normal haunts but it as eluded me.