A flock of mallards was also present at the small wetland Sunday morning. When they took flight they were a beautiful splash of color against a somber winter background.
As with the goose in yesterday’s post, these birds are also hunted wild birds and will not tolerate human intrusion. Although this makes for a difficult situation getting close to the birds but once I do I am assured of a rapid take-off once I am discovered.
Craig of Craig’s Bird Watching and Nature Blog has been posting his images of flight and I thought it may be helpful to Craig and others if I made a “how I do it” post, so here goes.
I tried capturing these types of shots back when I was shooting the Canon S2 point & shoot but it was an exercise in futility. The focus was both too slow and too imprecise. Once I had acquired the 30D and the 100-400 L lens it was a different story.
I use center spot focus and slow continuous drive mode (3 frames per second). When I’m expecting action I will set my aperture close to its widest setting and make sure the ISO is set to where I have an acceptable shutter speed. These settings are a balancing act between shutter speed and image quality.
As the birds take flight I begin touching the shutter button attempting to achieve focus on a bird and firing a 2-3 shot burst when I do while continuing to pan. I keep repeating this until the birds are out of range.
Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, that is what the delete button is for. The one problem that I find difficult to overcome is that of hitting focus on the background instead of the subject. In this case the trees were far enough in the distance that they didn’t interfere.