It’s no surprise when birds have the wind to their back they no longer merely fly they hit the speed of a rocket. I keep practicing capturing images of birds in flight. It takes a lot of practice and the ability to delete pictures in editing liberally. It’s no wonder one of the most searched subjects for photographers, novice as well as experienced is pertaining to how to take pictures of birds in flight.
Some are harder than others the Pelicans were quite easy because they are slow flying animals. They are large gliding birds that will at times fly at reasonable altitudes. With the camera’s focus set on one point focus it is possible to focus fairly easily.
Green Herons are smaller birds their stature is approximately 12″. They are fast flyers, smaller birds may not be quicker but they appear to be. Up against a blue featureless sky almost any focusing grid will work. When using multiple points with a busy backdrop it is not possible to know what was the focal point because the camera chooses it.
I don’t have any images of the bird being out of focus and the background in focus which is the case when auto-focus in a large grid goes haywire. It’s hard to admit but the image of the SeaGull was intentionally unintentional. That’s a bit confusing but there is no other way to say it. My intent was to capture a perfect image of it but because I used the large auto-focus grid it was indeed hit or miss. In essence this photo being good quality was about 80% pure luck.
I have the camera set on manual select large zone and AI-servo. Manual select large zone has 45 focus points in three separate 15 point grids. When focusing with the center point the camera will lock on the first center point if the shutter remains 1/2 depressed. When the shutter is let up then re-set to 1/2 the focus changes and from there it’s hard telling what has been chosen by the camera.
Earlier today I had the opportunity to capture Canadian Geese flying directly towards me and I was ready. However not one image was in focus, the reason being the camera was set on the manual select large zone consequently it chose the background.
That has convinced me to go back to single point, AI-servo. I don’t think I will lose any more pictures than I have on the multi-point grids. It will take more practice to keep that one point on the desired part of the subject; generally the eye. A disadvantage is AI-servo will compensate for the subject getting closer or dropping back however there is no forgiveness if the focal point of the camera is not on the bird.
Practice makes perfect it will take a lot of it. I have thought about using a Gimbal on occasion; I believe I will re-visit that idea.
Jacques Lebec Flutter Shutter