Universal Advice for Better Flight Photography with a Zoom Lens…. « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Universal Advice for Better Flight Photography with a Zoom Lens....

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This image was created with the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens with the 1.4X III TC (hand held at 192mm) and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400: 1/2500 sec. at f/7.1 set manually after histogram check.

Universal Advice for Better Flight Photography with a Zoom Lens….

I say it often to my groups and almost always with a smile on my face: “Here is universal advice for better flight photography with a zoom lens: zoom wider.” It happens all too often. You create a spectacular image, sharp, great light, the perfect exposure to go along with a killer pose. Only to find that you have clipped a wingtip or a toe or a tail….

Many folks calling themselves purists choose to delete such images. I choose to add canvas and repair/replace the missing wingtips, toe, or tail feathers. I always let folks know what I have done. And for those quick to criticize me in these cases my response is always the same: I can guarantee you that when I pushed the shutter button that the bird had the five missing primary tips….

Below is the original for the image above.

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There were three sharp frames in this series. Frame one is above. In frames 2 and 3 I had the whole bird in the frame but the pose was not as strong in either of those images as it was in the first one…. And of course, in the first one I had cut the primary tips…..

Usually in a situation like this it is easy to add canvas and then grab the primary tips from another image in the series. But in the next two frames several of the primaries were less than ideal candidates for transplant. I was able to grab the forth and fifth primaries from the second image in the series. I painted a quick mask of each of them individually, put them on their own layer, and used the Move Tool to bring each of them into the 1st image (one at a time). Then I transformed and warped the layer and positioned it carefully. For the third, fourth, and the tiny bit of the fifth primary tip I used a series of tapered and re-shaped Quick Masks of the individual feather that I was working on. I moved each into place and then added a Layer Mask to each to sculpt the feather. In addition I used the Clone Stamp Tool for edge and sky clean up and followed that up with some Patch Tool work to smooth the sky.

You can learn the skills needed for such complex repairs–this one took me about 45 minutes–in the recent update of Digital Basics and in Robert O’Toole’s APTATS I.

Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of the gear that I used to create the image above. Thanks a stack to all who have used the Shopper’s Guide links to purchase their gear as a thank you for all the free information that we bring you on the Blog and in the Bulletins. Before you purchase anything be sure to check out the advice in our Shopper’s Guide.

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens. Man, I am loving this lens on my shoulder with the 2X III teleconverter. I also use it a lot–depending on the situation–with the 1.4X III TC.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body. The very best professional digital camera body that I have ever used.
Canon EF 1.4X III TC. This new TC is designed to work best with the new Series II super-telephoto lenses.

And from the BAA On-line Store:

Delkin 32gb e-Film Pro Compact Flash Card. These high capacity cards are fast and dependable.

10 comments to Universal Advice for Better Flight Photography with a Zoom Lens….

  • harvey tabin

    Neither do I. I must have cut off a few words.

  • And here I was thinking it was ‘Pan Faster’…. !

    I dont’ see a problem re-adding the primary tips, as Art says, the bird had them at the time.

  • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Bill, Even if a photojournalist took this image, the bird would have had wingtips at the moment they depressed the shutter button…..

    With the eagles I needed the 1.4X as many of the images were created at focal lengths between 200 and 280mm….. For the sunset images I used the 2X with the 70-200 II. And for our last great sunset–see tomorrow’s blog post–I needed the 800.

  • Bill Richardson

    Great shot. I never understood the problem with adding clipped wings, etc. Photo journalism is one thing–can’t alter photos there. But making great artistic photos is open to artistic efforts all the way in my opinion. All great photographers relied on altering what came out of the camera in one way or another. I took my own 70-200v2 and 2xTCv3 out for flying birds yesterday and am really pleased with it. I am surprised you went with the 1.4x here???

  • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Thanks all. Becky, the bird was banking in flight and beginning a dive. Harvey, I do not understand your comment 🙂

  • harvey tabin

    I saw your work before digital.

  • M. Bruce

    Once again a true winner!

  • That’s certainly a new angle on a Bald Eagle in flight. Never seen anything like it . . . what was he doing? Great Shot.

  • Sweet! Worth fixing in this case.

  • Alan Lillich

    Now this one is unequivocally incredible.