This article shares a selection of Bird AI with Pro Capture L test images of gulls in flight that were captured handheld during an intensive practice exercise in September 2021. I enjoy doing rapid-fire intensive practice exercises as I find they help build and maintain eye/hand coordination as well as improve my shutter release timing.
Obviously when doing an exercise of this nature there will be missed photographs… and if I don’t miss a lot of images I know I haven’t pushed myself or my camera hard enough.
All of the gull in flight photographs in this article were captured using Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking in combination with Pro Capture L. As is my standard practice I used a single auto-focus point with Pro Capture L Pre-Shutter Frames was set to 10. I shot in Manual mode with Auto-ISO. All images were captured during the same practice exercise.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
During a practice exercise I capture a good range of images in terms of flight direction, wing and body positions, background, and image burst length. Most often I capture shorter length bursts as 10 consecutive frames with Pro Capture L usually produces a sufficient number of differentiated images.
I begin with clear backgrounds, often with the birds-in-flight at a decent distance. This allows me to visually pick up the birds early and track with them. These are ‘warm up’ photographs so I don’t spend too much time with this type of image. Here are a few more typical ‘warm up’ images.
After this ‘warm up’ period I watch the birds a bit more intently so I can discern the most common flight approaches. I also watch for interesting wing/body positions… when individual birds are looking intense… slowing down with flight feathers spread… or in full ‘back peddle’ mode as they begin to land.
Often the same Bird AI with Pro Capture L image run can yield multiple photographs with interesting wing and body positions as we can see in the next five photographs.
I find using a frame rate of 18 fps when using C AF +TR with Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking and Pro Capture L very helpful to capture a range of In-flight positions with just one shutter click.
As my intensive practice exercise continues I begin to concentrate on capturing birds-in-flight that are interacting with other birds… most commonly squawking at them as we can see in the two photographs above. Or, coming in to land in close proximity to other birds.
Capturing birds coming in to land in close proximity to other birds takes eye/hand coordination and also good shutter timing.
One of the biggest reasons why I use a single auto-focus point when using Bird AI is the control it gives me with birds-in-flight. I try to lock on an incoming bird while it is still somewhat separated from other birds that are in the frame. The image above is a good example of this approach. I can then lock on the bird and track with it as it descends in amongst the other birds. The next eight images are from the same image run as the photograph above.
I seldom have any issues with Bird AI, in combination with Pro Capture L, not holding focus on a bird descending into a group of other birds, as long as I’ve used proper technique.
One of my practice sessions would not be complete unless I try to get in really tight with an incoming bird. Even if I clip the bird’s wings I find these images have an intense quality about them.
I know some photographers scoff at photographing gulls in-flight. The reason for that escapes me. From my perspective even the most common of birds can make fascinating photographic subjects. As photographers it is really up to us to capture an interesting ‘slice of life’ moment, regardless of the species of bird that we may have in our viewfinder.
Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process. Crops are noted. This is the 1,120 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.
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