Flight Poses and Wings Positions: Part II of Many. And Flight Photography Basics (with AF placement advice) « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Flight Poses and Wings Positions: Part II of Many. And Flight Photography Basics (with AF placement advice)

What’s Up?

We had a great early morning of fishing and some pretty good eagle photography on Sunday morning. I caught my biggest Walleye, about 24 inches. On this lake, all Walleye over 18″ must be released as they are the breeding females. It is after 6pm and I still have not started packing yet … We leave Basket Lake for the Dryden Airport at about 5am so I had better get packin’.

Jim is picking me up at MCO at about 5:30pm if all goes well.

I will be announcing the Fort DeSoto Fall Sandbar Secrets IPT and one or two Bosque IPTs soon.

FlexShooter Pro Update

We currently have FlexShooter Pro heads in stock here.

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Money Saving Reminder

If you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H, would enjoy free overnight shipping, and would like a $50 discount on your first purchase, click here to order and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If you are looking to strike a deal on Canon or Nikon gear (including the big telephotos) or on a multiple item order, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell at (479) 381-2592 (Eastern time) and be sure to mention your BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order. Steve currently has several D850s in stock along with a Nikon 600mm f/4 VR. He is taking pre-orders for the new Nikon 500 P and the Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera body.


Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of photographers whom I see in the field and on BPN, are–out of ignorance–using the wrong gear especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail. Those questions might deal with systems, camera bodies, accessories, and/or lens choices and decisions.

Bald-Eagle-banking-top-shot-_BUP0973-nr-Dryden-Ontario-CA-1

This image was created on June 15, 2019 from a small boat on Basket Lake. Again, I used the hand held Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens and my souped-up Nikon D850. ISO 500. Matrix metering plus 2/3 stop off the low blue sky: 1/6400 sec. at f/7.1 in Manual mode. AUTO1 WB at 7:15am on a clear morning.

Center Group (grp) Continuous (C in Nikon/AI Servo with Canon) was active at the moment of exposure. See the screen captures above for the locations of the array.

Nikon Focus Peaking fine-tune value: +4. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

Bald Eagle top shot

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Flight Poses and Wings Positions

Banking flight images offer spectacular views of the dorsal wing surfaces of birds in flight. As long as the subject is not too close, they are easy to create working in horizontal format. If you start clipping wings, it is best to turn the camera on end and create vertical originals. Note: doing so successfully will take considerable practice.

After viewing the original for this image — the lower of the two images in the screen capture composite below, note how superbly a sharp D850 image stands up to a relatively large crop.

banking-eagle-Group-AF

Location of the array in a sharp two-frame sequence

Note the piss-poor placement of the AF array in each image … Keep reading to learn where the array should have been positioned.

Flight Photography Basics

For flight photography, Canon users are advised to use center Surround. Nikon users are advised to use center Group (grp). And SONY users will likely opt for center Zone. In all cases, feel free to experiment with the AF mode to see what works best for you.

I always set the limit range switch on a telephoto lens to “not Full” and recommend that you do the same. This prevents the lens from having to search down to the minimum focusing distance and shortens the time needed to acquire focus acquisition. When hand holding, be sure to get your left hand well out on the lens barrel. Strive to find a sturdy balanced stance. Be aware of sky conditions and the effects of wind direction and strength on flying birds. As a general rule, you want the sun right behind you and the wind from somewhere behind you. Pure wind against sun conditions are difficult at best if you are attempting to photographs birds in flight as birds will always fly, land, and take off into the wind.

AF Placement Advice

It sounds so simple, “Place and keep the AF point or array on the bird’s head, neck, or upper breast.” In reality, it is relatively simple for those who practice a lot, have excellent hand-eye coordination, and superior strength and stamina. For the rest of us, accomplishing this task is — as you can see in the dual screen capture above, often easier said than done. As we age, the task becomes even more difficult. And if you are in a rocking boa, placing and keeping the AF point or the array on the bird’s head, neck, or upper breast can be a huge challenge.

In the screen capture above note how poorly I did at keeping the array on the bird’s head, neck, or upper breast … But Nikon Group AF for only for birds in flight and in action is quite astounding as the birds in both of my images are razor sharp on the eye …Go figure.

anita-eagle-_DSC3786-Basket-Lake-2019-Edit-Edit

This image was also created on June 15, 2019, from a small boat on Basket Lake, this one by my Basket Lake host and good friend, Anita North. She used the hand held Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens and her Nikon D850. ISO 1000. Matrix metering plus 1 2/3s stops off grey sky: 1/3200 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode. AUTO1 WB at 8:12am on a now partly cloudy morning.

Center Group (grp) Continuous (C in Nikon/AI Servo with Canon) was active at the moment of exposure.

Vertical banking Bald Eagle
Image courtesy of and copyright 2019: Anita North

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Vertical Bank Shots from Horizontal Originals

When you have a horizontal top shot with the bird nicely angled in the frame adding canvas top and bottom and cropping to 2X3 to create a vertical bank shot is a good option. Here Anita used the Content-Aware Fill option in Photoshop to create here vertical bank shot. For my image, I repositioned the bird in the lower of the two frames in the screen capture using techniques from APTATS I & II.

If In Doubt …

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Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store 🙂

To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

As always, we sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And please remember that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

I would, of course, appreciate your using our B&H affiliate links for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above, and for everything else in the new store, we, meaning BAA, would of course greatly appreciate your business. Here is a huge thank you to the many who have been using our links on a regular basis and those who will be visiting the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store as well.

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Typos

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4 comments to Flight Poses and Wings Positions: Part II of Many. And Flight Photography Basics (with AF placement advice)

  • avatar Adam

    Your comments regarding the Canon AF were interesting. Personally, I’ve found the 9 point surround to be less precise than the 5 point cross shape for bif with a larger percentage of images OOF. Perhaps that’s because it is covering a larger area and more likely to fixate on a wing, tail, etc.?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Adam, When the world’s best flight photographers were using Canon (they’ve all switched to Nikon now), they used either Surround or center point. I did write this “In all cases, feel free to experiment with the AF mode to see what works best for you.”

      with love, artie

  • avatar Bill Hill

    As we age, I am older than you, a big lens hand held is an issue. Since you turned me on to the Flexshooter Pro I am doing most of my flight shooting on the tripod when possible. I find it much easier, not easy, to place the sensor in the right spot without depending on arm strength. Depending on the background, I often have good success using the full array on my Canon 1DX. Always in manual mode of course.

    Thanks

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Bill. I do fine hand holding 3-4 pounds lenses for flight. Anything heavier goes on the tripod. Thanks again for your purchase.

      with love, artie

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