On Saturday afternoon, I went to a Chattanooga Audubon Society fund raising event as a volunteer for S.O.A.R. S.O.A.R. was there to do their 45 minute long educational program on birds of prey in support of the Audubon.
The challenge for John and Dale was that the program was in a large field outdoors, potentially tempting free flying birds to head for the trees.
The challenge for me was to see if I could get any good shots of the birds. I am planning to make a screensaver to give away in exchange for donations at an upcoming event. Unfortunately, I’ve never seen the program before, so I am completely winging it (yes, a pun).
I chose my new 70-200mm lens thinking because it’s faster, it will help me freeze more movement. Given that it was a bright sunny day, I probably would have done better with my 100-400mm since I didn’t really need the speed.
I put my camera on a tripod and set it at its maximum height thinking I’d have a better angle catching the birds flaring before they land. Unfortunately, I didn’t consider the need to separate the birds from the audience. I would have been better off getting really low–well, not sure my knees would have been better off, but my pictures would have been.
I also needed to be as unobtrusive as possible so the birds didn’t get confused and fly to me. No one wants a bird of prey to land on their unprotected flesh. As a result, I tried to stay in one spot and not move around much.
In addition to being in a fixed position, up high, with too short a lens, all my subjects were in motion. John and Dale are constantly moving. When I am looking through my lens, I can only track one of them, but I need to know where the other one is to predict what direction the bird will fly. Looking away to locate the destination person caused me to miss more than one good shot.
My lack of experience using the continuous focusing mode also did not help. I had issues with losing focus. I’m not sure what I did wrong, but I’m going to have to do some more practice with continuous focusing mode. It was depressing to see perfectly framed and timed shots that were totally out of focus.
In the end, I have some fun snap shots, but nothing to put in the screensaver. I spent an insane amount of time trying to salvage one of the photos by blurring away the distracting background. Unfortunately, the photo doesn’t look right now–see if you can tell which one I majorly doctored.
At least I learned a lot for the next time. And, none of the birds flew away.
As for Tisen, he couldn’t come to the event with me–birds and dogs don’t mix well. But, I included another shot from his nap with Red Dog.
- Rescuing a Heron (nomadicmainstream.com)
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