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photograghing hawks

bobsblues 8 10 2 United Kingdom
22 Sep 2010 5:56PM
Hi Folks
Can anybody give any advice on the best way to photograph flying hawks ,eg speeed setting ,tv priority or av priority or manual . Camera i will be using is canon eos 7d with 17- 135 is usm lens would a wide angle lens be more appropriate . The bids are trained so hopefully that will help. thanks rob

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Overread 9 4.1k 19 England
22 Sep 2010 6:06PM
I've generally found that when you shoot birds you either want to use spot metering on the bird itself (tricky as if you miss the AF point on the bird you might end up with a badly exposed shot) or use a centre weighted metering mode and overexpose the shot by about one stop (this gets around the fact that the bird will often be noticeably darker than the bright sky behind it).

Other than that I would say try to keep your speed as fast as you possibly can - shooting in AV mode will let you keep a nice stable aperture, whilst also letting the shutter speed jump up and down as needed - if you find you need more speed just open the aperture up all the way to the widest setting *smallest number*.

Further as to the lens you "should use" this depends partly on the kind of shot you want. Even with a trained bird you might find it hard to get inflight close shots with a 17-135mm lens, though for perched shots (provided the bird lets you) you can get nice and close up. You can of course use a wider angle lens if you want to maximise the area surrounding the bird whilst in flight or for a very close up shot.
StrayCat 14 19.1k 3 Canada
22 Sep 2010 10:10PM
Go to birdsasart.com, select archived bulletins, and browse Artie's bird photos; he gives you the equipment, and settings he used on each one, and, most importantly, why. You can subscribe to his free bulletins, and that's all they will send you, no spam of any kind.

If you are at all interested in continuing to work at bird photography, I highly recommend his book on CD, it's amazing, and worth the price just for the pictures. They have special instructions on the site for overseas orders.
FrankRobinson 8 84 2 United Kingdom
23 Sep 2010 12:55PM
Partly depends on what the bird is - in my (limited) experience, Harris Hawks tend to move around a lot, and quite unpredictably, while peregrines are very fast, but quite predictable. The latter can be quite easily tracked (with a 50D, so your 7D should be more than capable. I would suspect that you will need more reach though - I was shooting with a 70-200 + 1.4 teleconverter and it wasn't really enough for the flying shots.
23 Sep 2010 5:11PM
I normally use Tv mode with a shutter speed of 1/1600 if possible, AI servo, centre weighted metering, and up the ISO to somthing I am comfortable with, the aperture can basically go hang, but if the lights still not good enough with those settings then I think your camera will auto reduce shutter speed to meet your max aperture.

I believe this is a Harris Hawk but not an English sky

A longish prime lens would help also
kevspiers 12 67
26 Sep 2010 6:58PM
Agree with all of the above plus a couple more, practice (lots), get to a bird photography day or a WWT location.

Where are you we could suggest locations?
bobsblues 8 10 2 United Kingdom
27 Sep 2010 5:38AM
thanks for all the info .location is just outside bishop auckland co durham .rob
mohikan22 14 2.3k 2 United Kingdom
27 Sep 2010 8:14AM
I believe this is a Harris Hawk but not an English sky

it certainly IS a harris hawk. and a very nice shot of one i might add./
Dave_Canon 11 1.4k United Kingdom
29 Sep 2010 4:31PM
I recently had a day photographing Owls and Hawks in flight. They were tame in that they were trained to fly towards the photographer though they do not fly in straight lines. The methods I used were:-

a. Manual exposure - meter the ground (e.g. grass) which will receive a similar light to the bird in flight particularly if it is low. Use Raw to give more tolerance.
b. Set the speed to around 1/2000 of second even if you have to increase the ISO a little.
c. Use single spot centre focusing on A1 servo - if you initially focus on the bird and track it the camera will track the bird and keep in focus. However, it needs practice and you will lose focus sometimes.

How close will you be. With an Eagle Owl flying right to me a 70-200mm on a full frame was ideal so your 135mm might be OK. However, if the birds are more than say 30 metres away, I think you will need a much longer lens. The 7D should focus much faster than my 5D2 but a large aperture helps. I was using a f2.8 lens which did help fast focusing. While I did get a few nice Hawk shots, the Eagle Owl was much easier to shoot as it is much bigger and flies slower.

You obviously realise that it is a real challenge to capture good shots of birds in flight but it is great fun and very rewarding if you get a few really good shots. Best of luck!!


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