01 April 2020

Cape Teal Duck with Canon EOS 7D Mark II

Cape Teal Duck with Canon EOS 7D Mark II - Vernon Chalmers Photography Copyright
Cape teal duck in crisp Cape Town / Woodbridge Island light with my Canon EOS 7D Mark II and EF 400mm f/5.6L USM lens

Short bursts for three to four images
For the captures below I just pre-focused, panned slightly and press the shutter for two short burst of three to four images each. The three consecutive images are in my opinion all of consistent focus and sharpness.

Lightroom Post-Processing
All images processed in Adobe Lightroom 8. Converted from RAW to JPG. Lens profile correction. Minor colour correction. Sharpness and noise reduction applied.

Cape Town Location
Milnerton Lagoon Woodbridge Island, Cape Town

Equipment (Birds In Flight / Action Photography)
  • Canon EOS 7D Mark II DSLR camera body
  • Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
  • SanDisk Extreme 64GB 120MB/s CF Card

Manual Mode Settings
  • Shutter speed: 1/4000s
  • Aperture: f/5.6
  • Focal length 400mm
  • Auto-ISO (ISO 500)
  • Continuous shooting mode (10 fps) / AI Servo
  • AI Servo / AF Mode Option (Large / Wide Zone AF / Case 1)
  • Lens AF On / No IS / Handheld

(Click to enlarge)
Cape Teal Duck with Canon EOS 7D Mark III Vernon Chalmers Photography Copyright
Frame 1 / 3 (10 fps) Cape Teal Duck with Canon EOS 7D Mark II

Cape Teal Duck with Canon EOS 7D Mark III Vernon Chalmers Photography Copyright
Frame 2 / 3 (10 fps) Cape Teal Duck with Canon EOS 7D Mark II

Cape Teal Duck with Canon EOS 7D Mark III Vernon Chalmers Photography Copyright
Frame 3 / 3 (10 fps)Cape Teal Duck with Canon EOS 7D Mark II

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Birds in Flight Photography Gallery View

Birds in Flight Photography Training Cape Town View

Birds in Flight Photography Training Gift Vouchers View

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Zone AF and AF Point Expansion Options

Understanding the Canon EOS 7D Mark II Zone AF and AF Point Expansion Options
Canon EOS 7D Mark II - Zone AF Selection
Understanding Zone AF & AF Point Expansion Options
The advanced Autofocus System of the Canon EOS 7D Mark II could be significantly challenging for new and experienced photographers keen to master its AF area selection options.

Canon EOS 7D Mark II’s AF Area Options defined / explained
  • Single-point AF 
  • Spot AF 
  • AF Point Expansion (4 Points) 
  • AF Point Expansion (8 Points) 
  • Zone AF 
  • Wide Zone AF 
  • Automatic AF point selection 

Official Canon Article by Rudy Winston from Canon USA

Difference between Zone AF and AF Point Expansion

Download Canon EOS 7D Mark II DSLR AF-Settings PDF Guidebook
Canon EOS 7D Mark II DSLR AF-Settings PDF Guidebook

Image Credit: Vernon Chalmers Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens

Canon EOS 7D Mark II - Birds in Flight Photo Gallery View

Canon EOS 7D Mark II : Automatic Selection Autofocus Testing View

Canon EOS 7D Mark II : Wide Zone Autofocus Testing View

Birds in Flight Photography Cape Town View

Diving Pied Kingfisher at Woodbridge Island

What is interesting here is that the kingfisher in flight was captured with my 'slowest' camera and lens combination (Canon EOS 6D @ 4.5 fps and EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens).

Focal Length 300mm: ISO 500, f/5.6, 1/4000s

The image is about a 60 to 70% crop (from the original frame). What made this image worth posting is perhaps the fact that the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens is IMO the best in the 70-300mm focal length class (wrt image quality),

Canon body: EOS 6D ( 20mp Full Frame body)

Cape Town Location
Diep River, Woodbridge Island


Diving Pied Kingfisher at Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
Diving Pied Kingfisher at Woodbridge Island, Cape Town  (Canon EOS 6D)
Birds in Flight Photography Cape Town View

Diving Pied Kingfisher - Woodbridge Island, Cape Town

I still maintain my fascination for the hard working, diving pied kingfisher. This kingfisher was captured on a windy morning diving into the Diep river close to Woodbridge Island, Cape Town. With the Canon EOS 70D Mark II / 400mm lens.

(Click to Enlarge)
Pied Kingfisher at Work - Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
Pied Kingfisher Diving - Woodbridge Island, Cape Town 


Pied Kingfisher at Work - Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
Pied Kingfisher with fish - Woodbridge Island, Cape Town 


Pied Kingfisher at Work - Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
Pied Kingfisher with fish - Woodbridge Island , Cape Town


Pied Kingfisher at Work - Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
Pied Kingfisher with fish - Woodbridge Island, Cape Town

Birds in Flight Photography Cape Town View

Swift Tern Rock n Roll - Woodbridge Island, Cape Town

Swift Tern in Flight Photography
An early morning hike along the Diep River, Woodbridge Island provided a close-up opportunity for capturing this little swift tern rocking and rolling after an unsuccessful feeding dive. 

Herewith three consecutive images of the Swift Tern during and after a dive shaking the excess water from his feathers.

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Continuous Shoot Mode (10 fps)

Images by Vernon Chalmers with Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens ISO 800 f/5.6 1/5000's, AI Servo AF Mode (Handheld). 10 fps High-Speed continuous shooting mode.

Credit to the Canon EOS 7D Mark II and EF 400mm f/5.6L lens pairing for fast and effortless focus and tracking (using AI Servo Case 1 and the Large Zone AF selection).

Cape Town Location
Woodbridge Island, Milnerton


(click to enlarge)
Swift Tern in Flight Photography - Woodbridge Island / Cape Town Copyright Vernon Chalmers
Swift Tern in Flight Photography - Woodbridge Island / Cape Town 

Swift Tern in Flight Photography - Woodbridge Island / Cape Town Copyright Vernon Chalmers
Swift Tern in Flight Photography - Woodbridge Island / Cape Town

Swift Tern in Flight Photography - Woodbridge Island / Cape Town Copyright Vernon Chalmers
Swift Tern in Flight Photography - Woodbridge Island / Cape Town

Canon EOS 7D Mark II - Birds in Flight Photo Gallery

Birds in Flight Photography Cape Town

Using Auto ISO for Birds in Flight Photography

As Posted on the Birdlife South Africa Facebook Group

Herewith shared an unusually low flying yellow-billed duck at Woodbridge Island photographed at Auto ISO 1250 with my Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM lens. Granted, the shutter speed was perhaps a tad high at 1/4000s (setup at the time was for faster flyers in poor sky light), but I was still happy with the 'noise' outcome.

Aperture was f/5.6 on a Crop / APS-C body at 400mm focal length. With a full frame body at the same focal length the noise level would probably be a stop or so better.

It is recommended with Auto ISO (in low light) to bring the shutter speed (for in-flight birds) down to 1/2000s / 1/3200s. I never go less than 1/3200s - and sometimes dare to go 1/5000s in very good light (with Auto-ISO).

Best is to experiment quite a bit before jumping to conclusions that you need to upgrade body and / or lens for low light shooting. 

Bird in Flight: Yellow-billed duck at Woodbridge Island, Cape Town

Yellow-Billed Duck in Flight : Birds in Flight Photography and Auto ISO
Yellow-Billed Duck in Flight : Birds in Flight Photography and Auto ISO

Source / more camera and Autofocus detail View 

Importance of flight direction and the position of the sun

Egyptian Goose : Importance of flight direction and the position of the sun
Egyptian goose with limited shadows
For Birds in Flight Photography

At Woodbridge Island, Cape Town the majority of birds in flight I photograph are flying towards me (with morning sun at my back) - this is important to me for two reasons:
  • Eliminates most of the bird's own distracting shadows under wings and other areas
  • Enhances eye and feather detail - especially with head and eyes that are the same colour

Birds in Flight Photography Examples
Water thick-knee and the blacksmith plover are flying from left to right (towards the sun), with both showing limited shadows and the available direct light providing more definition on the eye and head colours. 

Yellow-billed duck is flying from right to left (away from the sun) with a clear shadow in front of the left wing.

Red-eyed dove and the Egyptian goose (top) are flying from right to left (away from the sun), but fortunately the head and movement is turned towards the left and most of the possible wing / other shadows are limited.

Just something to think about for those of you still finding your feet (and focus) with birds in flight photography.

Setup and Tips For Birds in Flight Photography View

Tracking Variables for Improved Birds in Flight Photography View

Water Thick-Knee flying from Left to Right - Image Copyright Vernon Chalmers
Water Thick-Knee flying from Left to Right : Source:Tracking Variables for Improved Birds in Flight Photography

Blacksmith Plover flying from Left to Right - image Copyright Vernon Chalmers
Blacksmith Plover flying from Left : Source: Tracking Variables for Birds in Flight Photography

Yellow-Billed Duck flying from Right to Left - Image Copyright Vernon Chalmers
Yellow-Billed Duck flying from Right to Left : Setup and Tips for Improved Birds in Flight Photography

Red Eyed Dove flying from Right to Left : Setup and Tips for Improved Birds in Flight Photography

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Birds in Flight Photography Gallery View

Birds in Flight Photography Training Cape Town View

Birds in Flight Photography Training Gift Vouchers View