Bathing Bird Strategies « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Bathing Bird Strategies

This bathing Short-billed Dowitcher image was created at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge with the Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM Autofocus lens, the Kenko Teleplus PRO 300 DGX 1.4x AF Teleconverter, and the Canon EOS-1D X Digital SLR Camera . Mongoose M3.6 with the Skimmer II Ground Pod.

ISO 800: Evaluative metering -1 stop: 1/800 sec. at f/9. Why -1 stop??? The Canon system does not note the loss of one stop of light from the Kenko TC; I figured this out right from the start when my first few images were about a stop over-exposed….

Below central sensor AI Servo/Rear Focus Expand AF active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image for a larger version.

Bathing Bird Strategies

When you see a bird bathing–they usually start by repeatedly dipping their breast in the water–you have an important decision to make: Go in tight for the full body with splashes image or work wider and try for the the flap after the bath shot. If you go for the former, you will surely miss the latter. But those tight splashing shots can be very enticing. If you decide to try and fill half the frame or more with the bird, you can do so by moving closer physically or by adding a tele-converter as I did above. If you are patient you can stay back or remove the tele-converter from the mix. In good light, a fast shutter speed can be used to freeze the droplets of water.

The Willet image above, which features the subject nicely back in the frame, was created from the image below in less then a minute using the “Composition Correction: Increase Lead Room Without Cropping/Basic” tutorial from APTATS II. Note also the small crop from the bottom.

This image of bathing Willet was created at Fort DeSoto with the hand held Canon 500mm f/4L EF IS II lens, the Canon 1.4x EF tele-extender III, and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/1600 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode.

61-Point/AI Servo Rear Focus AF active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image for a larger version.

When the bath is over, most birds will jump up out of the water and flap their wings. It is usually best to use a lower central sensor so that there is not too much room below the bird when it jumps. Why the center? Why resist the urge to get closer and work extra wide? Because it is easy to clip the wingtips when a bird flaps after the bath and because you never know if you will capture the wings fully forward or fully back as in the Willet image.

Summing Up

Always choose a lower sensor. Move in tight or add a TC for the close-up splashing images. Stay back and work wide to give the bird room to flap without clipping the wings.

NYC Weekend Nature Photography Seminar

Presented by Denise Ippolito/A Creative Adventure and Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Hilton Garden Inn, Staten Island, New York. December 8-9, 2012 from 9am-4:30pm.
Weekend: $169. SAT or SUN: $99. Lodging available for out of town guests.
Saturday: Image Capture Sunday: Image Evaluation and Processing

Click here for complete details including the Saturday and Sunday schedules, club and group discount info, and registration incentives and for more info on the In-the-Field Seminar Follow-up Workshop.

Artie, the grizzled veteran, is widely noted as one of the premier bird photographers, tour leaders, and educators on the planet. Denise, who specializes in flowers, is the mega-creative up-and-comer, a popular lecturer, a skilled field instructor, and an amazing Photoshop wizard who will share her tips and tricks with you. Both artie and denise are full time professional nature photographers.

BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tours

Click here for complete IPT information including the current schedule and links to general IPT info, deposit and cancellation policies. and the required registration and release forms.

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