hand hold or tri-pod; pick your poison.

Yesterdays blog was centered on my three parameters of a good quality blogging photograph. The subject must be recognizable, it must tell a story (stand alone) and it must conjure up an emotion. We want to avoid the viewer asking “what am I looking at.”

Today I’m going to talk about use of a tri-pod or hand holding the camera.

Typically when taking shots of small flying birds I will always hand hold the camera; with limitations. When using my 100-400mm or 18-135mm lenses it is easier to track the bird with the camera held. I use the Auto Focus large grid with the AI feature which focuses on an incoming subject. Avoidance of birds flying directly towards me is important as the camera will at times not focus fast enough to keep it sharp. My preferred angle is when the animal is moving across the screen L-R or R-L with the Sun reflecting on the side towards me.

As shown in the photo of the Green Heron. The Sun is to the left of the image about 22º from my shoulder. This is a good light for a hand held image. Due to my severe Arthritis I have developed a way to hold the camera without popping the upper joint. I hold my left elbow tight into the lowest spot of my rib cage and pivot my entire body with the passing subject. My focus point is always the center point in the view finder focused on or near the eye. The ideal focus setting is single point however holding the focus on the eye is a challenge; it takes thousands of pictures to develop that skill. I hand hold the camera every time to capture small flying birds such as Robins and Blue Jays.

I use my tri-pod and the single point focus always on images such as the Gander in the above photo. I am able to focus exactly on the eye and with a slow moving or stationary subject it is no problem keeping it there.

A busy background is made a non-concern with the single point and a tri-pod as the camera focuses on the birds eye only. If I used the multi-point AF grid I would not know what the cameras focus was. This Hen with her Fledgeling would be blurred for certain.

I will use my try-pod when I have my 150-600mm lens on the camera as I did when shooting the image above. The reason is purely due to my physical condition, that lens weighs close to 5 pounds; it gets heavy. Especially when holding it at arms length focusing on a bird while waiting for it to take to the air. In that situation I will always use the Canon Connect app to control the shot on my Android tablet. The app shows the view full screen allowing focusing as well as taking the image.

It’s difficult for me to use “live view” on the back screen to follow a subject; I use it to enlarge images after taking pictures without the app it is quite useful when used for pre-editing. However I will offer a bit of advice, don’t delete images from the back screen; wait until it is in the editor. Conversely the Canon Connect app enables me to monitor the screen looking for tell-tales to predict when the bird is taking to the air.

I hand hold my 400mm, tri-pod my 600mm and use Canon Connect when waiting for the subject to take off. It takes hours of practice for each endeavor but I have found it to be the best way for me as a disabled person to take quality photographs.

Jacques Lebec Flutter Shutter

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