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Cleared to Land

By markst33    
Been trying to capture an action shot of these guys for a week now since I put up the bird feeder but they are extremely fast. This was shot at 1/2000th and you can still see blur in the wings. I am having to stand in the kitchen door to shoot them and then to crop heavily. Shooting with a 70-200 @200

Never realised just how fast these guys can move. Even trying to capture them flying away after feeding, they are out of frame before you get a chance to press the shutter.

Tags: Flight Nature Birds Wings Sparrows Wildlife bird Wildlife and nature

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chensuriashi Plus
16 336 18 England
3 Jun 2020 9:16AM
I don't like the top of the feeder in the shot, so I just cropped in a touch and made the shot bigger, di not have to touch any picture settings but there really is not much you can do here, and I think it is a better shot now. Nice to catch it thanks for sharing. Chen.
dudler Plus
19 2.0k 1967 England
3 Jun 2020 12:08PM
I've been trying similar things - I shall therefore leave you to the experts. I'll just say I know how difficult it is, and suggest moving to the right for a plainer background...
dark_lord Plus
18 3.0k 835 England
3 Jun 2020 12:22PM
Well done for having a go at this Mark, it's a challenging task at the best of times.

1/2000 isn't a bad shutter speed, though higher is nice to have. It looks here that the blurred wingtips are more to do with minimal depth of field than anything else and it's not helped because you've got the whole wingspan to cover, unlike if the bird was square on to the camera. That can be applied to many action subjects as a beneral photographic issue so it's not a criticism here.

I'm not surprised you needed to crop (it would be interesting to see the original so we have an idea of how much) as until someone tries bird photography it's hard to appreciate why very long focal lengths are needed.
That said, this image is sharp on the subject and doesn't look 'cropped' like so many bird shots on here do here the drop in quality is so obvious.

Was it the intention to catch the birds in flight?
A feeder will draw birds in and while a feeder isn't the most attractive object, in any case many birds willbe fastest when approaching or leaving. Some birds are on and off very quickly, and there was a piece on that on Springwatch last week.

Is there, do you have, or can you put a perch nearby that they can use?
It's somehting they can uise going to and from the feeder. They cay be more relaxed and not so quick to capture there.

It's a decent record of the birds you've managed to attract into your garden though.
markst33 13 78 2 Ireland
3 Jun 2020 12:23PM
@dudler. Moving to the right means stepping out into the garden (which is small) and once I am in the garden the sparrows won't go near the feeder.
markst33 13 78 2 Ireland
3 Jun 2020 12:28PM
@dark_lord I'll put up the original in the mods section. Yes I wanted to get an action shot as I had plenty of them feeding so I wanted a shot with energy and movement and yes you are right. Its a whole lot more difficult to shoot birds than you would think. You hae to wait for them to fly into the frame as you will never get a sharp one moving the camera around to try and capture them. (I learnt that the hard way)

I do plan on adding more feeds, perches etc. Its amazing the way the lockdown has given me time and motivation to do this
chase Plus
17 2.5k 668 England
3 Jun 2020 2:23PM
Hi Mark,
A difficult subject but a decent attempt.
All your exif isn't showing here, what aperture did you use etc. ? I suspect the blurred wings are due to your dof as Keith has mentioned.

The temptation would be to lengthen that branch holding the feeder, then perhaps you will exclude most of your shed.
A 'waiting perch' would be ideal, firmly planted in the ground close to the feeder, the birds will wait for a spot on the feeder and form an orderly, or sometimes disorderly, queue. Another idea would be to shove a garden fork into the ground close to the feeders but giving yourself a better, cleaner bg.
The inclusion of the feeder is not ideal tbh.

Try sitting outdoors on a will have to keep still though, camera at the ready. Leave the chair in position and the birds will get used to it.
BIF images are difficult at the best of times even in perfect locations.
markst33 13 78 2 Ireland
3 Jun 2020 2:39PM
The other issue I have is that I have an 11 month old German Shepherd who takes great delight in scaring them off and is very destructive to anything new in the garden. For example I spent the last 3 weekends building a patio, putting some decking down and putting willow fencing around the walls. I turned my back for 15 mins when it was all finished and he had started tearing down the fencing and digging up the patio stones Grin

But I want to add some more bird friendly stuff so a long perch from the shed would be a good idea
pamelajean Plus
16 1.8k 2275 United Kingdom
3 Jun 2020 4:00PM
This type of photography can be a lot of fun, Mark, but also extremely frustrating. One thing I have learnt, especially at this time when gardening is a daily delight, is that the birds get used to you being around and don't see you as a threat, so sitting in the garden CAN get you some good shots. Just be careful not to made very sudden movements, move slowly and they won't be spooked.

If you want to have a little hobby right now, set up some perches around the feeders, and not too near. A garden fork has been mentioned, and I have some permanently "planted" around my garden. Try to make your landing objects interesting because they add to the charm of your final image. Birds do have pecking orders and they wait while others feed, sitting nicely on the perches so that you can take pictures of them and there won't be ugly feeders in the shot, just the things you have chosen to place round and about for them.
An EPZ member, Cheryl Surry says, "Some will tut at the possibility of having to set up a scene, but when you need to entice birds out of the trees and into your garden, creating ready-made perches infront of a perfect background is the simplest way to create a great looking picture".
If you look around this site at bird images you will see many images of birds sat on attractive perches.
This is not down to luck, but intention. They are set about a foot or two from the feeders and are changed at will to get new and differing images.

Choose your photography area wisely, make sure it is a clean background with no distractions. This is going to be important.

HERE is an EPZ article about garden bird photography that you may find helpful.

As to blurred wings, it suggests movement and is acceptable. You still have the rest of the bird well focused, so it looks fine. Experiment with the shutter speed (faster and slower) until you know what will give you the effect you want. You may find that you like some deliberate blur, and so will choose a slower shutter speed. Bright light means fast shutter-speeds, which in turn, mean action-freezing shots are to be had. But for gloomy days, switch to a slightly higher ISO so you can use a quicker shutter speed.

Have you tried continuous shooting? It's one way to give yourself a good chance of getting at least a few frames that you are happy with.

Most of all, be patient, and do not get discouraged if you have not caught the perfect shot after half an hourSmile!


banehawi Plus
18 2.9k 4334 Canada
3 Jun 2020 4:07PM
Its a nice shot, and blur her is a good thing IMO.

You havent provided you complete exif data, and all exif has been stripped from the image, - best to also know the aperture, ISO, and if FF or APS-C.

Jestertheclown 14 8.7k 255 England
3 Jun 2020 7:15PM
Lots of good advice above.
I'll just add that what you need more than anything else is patience.
I photograph birds in my garden all the time; I've got two feeders, a nesting box and bits of bread all over the place and during this recent weather, I've been able to sit in a garden chair within about six feet of where the birds feed and they now take no notice of me.
I don't even need to sit particularly still; just move slowly but deliberately and they don't get alarmed.
4 Jun 2020 11:45AM
Not a 'critique person' but I Thought this might be useful to you. I used to try and do exactly what you are doing but because of the layout of my garden it wasn't possible to sit outside and see the birds, so I put the camera on a tripod and focussed it to the spot where birds landed and took off - a long cable on a remote control and I could sit inside and managed to get some reasonable 'birds in flight'. (No longer feed the birds as it led to rat infestations). Sad
markst33 13 78 2 Ireland
4 Jun 2020 11:52AM
@Tianshi_angie Yes I have been toying around with buying a wireless remote to do exactly this.

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