Category Archives: Birds

Flying Birds – Phase III (Difficult)

Diving Tern

Now things really get tough.  Capturing a diving tern is not easy.  They dart changing directions constantly as they fly looking for little morsels in the water.  Once they see something, they dive at 1000 miles per hour (or so it seems).  To catch a dive, I had to actively follow the bird as it darted above, keeping it in focus.  Then as soon as it makes a motion down, I start shooting and drop my camera to the water as fast as I can.  My camera shoots at 10 fps and I still caught only a couple of dives in the 250 images I shot.  We shot for about a half an hour.  I was exhausted from the concentration that I had exerted.  I was ready to quit.  But this is not the end of the story.  Wait for my next post …

Flying Birds – Phase II (Medium)

Nesting Great Blue Herons

Now things are getting a little more difficult.  The heron’s flight path was erratic and now I had to worry about timing and composure within the frame.  Here, I was trying to capture a specific action of the male landing to bring the female branches to make a nest.  I made a lot of errors including not leaving enough room at the edges of the frame.  Many of my images clipped the wings of the heron as he landed.  Also, I had a difficult time focusing on the main subject.  There were many other things going on around me and I would try to capture them as well.  I missed several opportunities to capture special actions of this couple.

There is also a little story behind these two love birds.  Even though the male was working hard to bring the female twigs for the nest, she was not very faithful.  When he would fly to get more twigs, another male would fly in and “do its thing”.  The first male would quickly fly back to chase the second one away.  It was rather comical to watch their behavior.

Flying Birds – Phase I (Easy)

Wood Stork at Orlando Wetlands Park

This and several other Wood Storks helped me practice panning to follow their flight patterns.  These storks would fly from one set of trees to another set of trees about 500 – 1000 yards apart.  I was on a hill positioned at right angles to their flight path.  All I had to do was to pick up their flight from one set of trees and follow it to the other set of trees.  Their flight path was straight without any erratic moves.  All I had to worry about was the correct exposure, shutter speed to freeze action, and achieving the initial focus.  Pretty easy …

Here’s Looking At You

Florida Sandhill Crane

This guy walked right in front of me.  I had to back up to achieve focus.  The Orlando Wetlands Park was like walking in open zoo.  It was a great place to practice bird photography.  My next challenge was to try to capture birds in flight.  This turned out to be quite a bit more difficult and a subject for future posts.

Buddies

Sandhill Cranes at Orlando Wetlands Park

I thought I would try my skills doing a little bird photography at the Space Coast Bird Festival in Titusville, Florida this year.  These two sandhill cranes made it really easy as they leisurely walked right in front of me.  Later on, one walked only about 10 feet in front me (subject of a future post).  They are beautiful and graceful creatures.  I plan to try to capture them during their mating phase near Othello, Washington later in March.

Looking Down From Above

150514_Osprey_Looking Down From Above-1 by Karl Graf. Canon 7D MkII, EF100-400mm L @ 400mm, f/5.6, 1/5000 sec, ISO 800

A couple of days after my dear wife passed, I was walking along the bridge at Lake Galena in Peace Valley Park.  I looked up and saw a large bird down the lake flying directly for me.  As it approached, the Osprey stopped and hovered in the wind right above me.  It looked down and just stared at me.  I could feel the message from my darling wife above.

Springtime at Peace Valley

150425_Male Cardinal by Karl G. Graf. Canon 7D MkII, EF100-400mm 3.5-5.6L IS @ 400mm, f/7.1, 1/1250 sec, ISO 1600

A couple of days ago, I took a couple of hours to visit Peace Valley Park to try to get a couple of nature shots.  As I arrived, three bus loads of kids arrived for a field trip.  There went my opportunity to get any wildlife shots with all the noise.  It was a great day for the kids though.  So I put my camera to my side and just enjoyed the walk in the woods.

When I got back to the nature center, I thought I would try the bird blind.  It provided a good spot to try out my new 100-400mm zoom and the low noise and fast shutter speed performance of my new Canon 7D MkII.  I was pleased with both.