On occasion we may happen to be at the right place, at the right time… as was the case with this early morning egret. This article shares a selection of six images from the same AF-C run. Even though all of the photographs are of the same bird, you’ll notice the differences that subject angle, wing position and background can make to an image.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
I was standing on a bridge looking down on a pond to capture all of the early morning egret photographs in this article. In our first sample image you can see how shooting down on a subject creates a less personal perspective. Catching the bird’s wings in a partial upstroke reveals some feather details, but the image lacks some symmetry. The egret looks rather awkward rather than elegant.
Our next early morning egret image is more visually pleasing. The bird is now rising up from the water and is closer to eye level. This gives the photograph an increased feeling of intimacy. The wings being positioned in a downward position adds some symmetry to the photograph. You’ll notice that the ISO value has decreased as the bird was now in a bit better lighting. I typically use an Auto ISO setting when photographing birds in flight.
In our third photograph the egret is continuing on its upward trajectory, but is now positioned against a very busy background. The colours of the berm help to accentuate the bill of the egret.
Our fourth early morning egret image shows our subject bird at about eye level which gives more intimacy to the photograph. The egret is better positioned in terms of background. Its body position is revealing a good amount of feather details on the underside of its right wing.
Unfortunately as I was panning with this egret I captured this image a bit too close to the top of the frame. If I wasn’t using a M4/3 sensor camera I likely would have clipped its wing tip. The additional vertical framing space that a 4:3 ratio image sensor provides when compared to a 3:2 ratio sensor is one of the reasons why I prefer photographing birds with a M4/3 format camera.
The photograph above is my favourite one from this entire AF-C image run. The egret is now at eye level and positioned against an out-of-focus natural setting. The downward position of the wings reveals a good amount of feather detail. The subject bird is creating a feeling of elegance and calm.
This early morning egret image is 18 frames further into my AF-C run than the first photograph in this article. When purchasing a camera that will be used for bird photography it is important to consider buffer depth, as well as frame rate.
I used 10 frames-per-second in silent shutter mode when photographing this egret. My Olympus OM-D E-M1X allows me to shoot at up to 18 frames-per-second in continuous auto-focus. Shooting at the fastest available frame rate isn’t always the best thing to do as your camera’s buffer will fill sooner.
Depending on the speed of the wing beats of the bird you are photographing, your AF-C run may be negatively impacted by the effects of rhythmic motion in terms of repeating wing positions.
The photograph above is a further 15 frames deeper into my AF-C run. You can see that the shooting angle has revealed a lot of good details on the underside of the egret’s right wing. This adds some interest to the photograph, even though I am clearly shooting from slightly behind the bird. From this point, any additional images from this AF-C run were basically unusable because of the shooting angle. The backside of birds are not photogenic!
When panning with this egret, it took about 3.3 seconds to capture this selection of 6 photographs.
Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process. Photographs were cropped to taste, then resized for web use.
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