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Old Mar 7, 2012, 8:40 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by saly View Post
Wow these are fantastic Paul!! I can't even imagine how you did that!
Hi Saly

Thanks for stopping by and looking.

It was certainly not 'easy'. Not only the 'speed' of the birds, etc - but also that they were mainly between 60 degrees and 90 degrees above me (if that makes sense).

That is, I had to hold my camera and lens "at the ready" and when a bird left the cover of the trees they were perched in, and then was in flight - I had to 'capture it' - usually aiming 'almost right up' (vertically).

So after some time I did feel my neck, back getting stiff / sore from so much 'looking up' and twisting / turning quickly to keep up with them. I guess a occupational therapist would say it's not 'good' for my neck / spine / back muscles!!

Cheers

Paul
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Old Mar 7, 2012, 8:42 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by jjdog2 View Post
Agree with Saly, really great shots.

jj
Hi jj,

I appreciate your kind comments also.

The good thing about taking quite a few of these photos, is that I can also review what settings seem to work best (eg aperture, metering, ISO, shutter speed) as well as technique (if / when to zoom in, what to 'look for' in the birds' behaviour, etc).

Next time... I hope to have some even more improved photos.

Thanks again.

Paul
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Old Mar 7, 2012, 8:49 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by zig-123 View Post
Very impressive series of images. As has already been mentioned, I've no idea how you got the angle but they are really something to see.

Zig
Hello Zig

Yes, the 'angle' was perhaps the killer (of me!) in capturing these photos, as I was basically looking up (once or twice I captured the sun in my 'following the erratic flight path' of the birds).

I am very conscious with a DSLR - looking through the lens / view finder can be very dangerous for the eyes. Thankfully though, I could 'tell' by the brightness in the sky when I was near the sun, so I avoided that in all but maybe a few times and I had my eyes 'ready to shut quickly'.

Next time, I will probably go there on a warm evening, when the sun is already lower... and capture some shots at a much easier angle (for my neck / back, etc) and also with the softer 'golden hour' light.

Much appreciated to receive your feedback.

Paul
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Old Mar 7, 2012, 8:58 PM   #14
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That is an extraordinary group of shots. What camera did the job? The AF really works extremely well.
Thanks Streets

I appreciate your kind words, and glad you like this series.

The camera I used is the Canon 7D, which I've had a bit over 2 years now. Prior to that, my first DSLR was the Canon 350D (which I still have as a 'backup', with over 80k photos taken).

If I had used the Canon 350D, I would have had a MUCH lower keeper rate. The reason is that the speed and accuracy of the 350D's AF is definitely much weaker than the 7D. For all these photos I had my Canon 70-300mm L... which is a great lens for such situations (fast AF USM, great IQ, etc).

The setting that I found that worked the best for this particular scenario (quick flying small birds, mainly almost directly above me, nearby - against a clear blue sky background) was to use 'zone AF' - the central 9 focal points activated.

Usually I would look (camera lowered, but at the ready) - and then when a bird took off, I would quickly get it in the view finder, and zoom in where appropriate (usually I had my lens zoom 'at the ready' set around 70-100mm - and then zoom in). Otherwise if I was at 300mm already, it was too hard to 'get the bird' in the viewfinder, and sometimes the bird would be 'too large' to fit in anyway (yes, these small birds were really THAT close!)

I had let the several birds perching in the tree, and feeding on flying insects get 'used to me' (after about 5 to 10 minutes they seemed comfortable with my presence, and flew around 5 to 20 metres from me).

Practice makes perfect, so I hope to practice more! It's certainly a test of reflections / reaction and 'knowing your camera / lens, etc'.

Paul
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Old Mar 7, 2012, 9:25 PM   #15
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Excellent shots. You have every right to be very proud of them.
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Old Mar 7, 2012, 11:42 PM   #16
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Excellent shots. You have every right to be very proud of them.

Awww... many thanks Steven

You're almost making me blush!!

I appreciate your kind comments.

(PS Nice car in your avatar!)

Paul
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Old Mar 8, 2012, 10:47 PM   #17
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Thanks for the link over here, Paul. These are absolutely stunning. I can appreciate the physical strain you were under! At my age, I would have just watched 'em fly!
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Old Mar 9, 2012, 4:05 PM   #18
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Great series. That is one unique looking bird.
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Old Mar 11, 2012, 7:20 AM   #19
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Hawgwild / Rob......
Many thanks for your appreciation of the photos. I will try to keep taking such photos as long as I can... ageing body and all! LOL! Happy to keep other folks amused!

Mugmar.....
I am grateful for you liking the series. Indeed, it's a special bird. I particularly like the 'under foliage' (on it's chest and stomach) - that gives a unique pattern / look.

Regards

Paul
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Old Mar 11, 2012, 4:33 PM   #20
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My dittos for everything already said. Nice shots.
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