31 December 2022

Peregrine Falcon at Arnhem Milnerton, Cape Town

Special Visit from a Peregrine Falcon, the World's Fastest Bird

Peregrine falcon near Woodbridge Island looking into my bedroom window on the 12th floor, Arnhem Milnerton Cape Town. This is a regular visitor, but elusive for capturing high quality images at times.

Images by Vernon Chalmers with Canon EOS 70D / Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM lens (M Mode / Handheld).


Peregrine Falcon Visit at Arnhem Milnerton Cape Town Copyright Vernon Chalmers 01
Peregrine Falcon at Arnhem Milnerton, Cape Town | Copyright Vernon Chalmers

Peregrine Falcon Visit at Arnhem Milnerton Cape Town Copyright Vernon Chalmers 02
Peregrine Falcon at Arnhem Milnerton, Cape Town | Copyright Vernon Chalmers

Peregrine Falcon Visit at Arnhem Milnerton Cape Town Copyright Vernon Chalmers 03
Peregrine Falcon at Arnhem Milnerton, Cape Town | Copyright Vernon Chalmers

Peregrine Falcon Visit at Arnhem Milnerton Cape Town Copyright Vernon Chalmers 04
Peregrine Falcon at Arnhem Milnerton, Cape Town | Copyright Vernon Chalmers

Peregrine Falcon Visit at Arnhem Milnerton Cape Town Copyright Vernon Chalmers 05
Peregrine Falcon at Arnhem Milnerton, Cape Town | Copyright Vernon Chalmers

Thoughts on Atmospheric Conditions for Photographers

Planning  / Conditions for Photographers 

Image Copyright Vernon Chalmers: Notes on planning and application for the serious photographer
Notes on Planning and Application for the Serious Photographer - Copyright Vernon Chalmers

Earlier this morning I posted about a question of any 'Photoshop' applied in one of my in-flight images - with the intention of asking if the image was manipulated in any way.

Read: Bird in Flight image photoshopped or not?

As a photographer I am a little concerned that people would think like that, but nevertheless see it as a compliment - especially where the photographer planned for achieving specific results.

For my own birds in flight photography around Woodbridge Island, Cape Town I look at two environmental variables very seriously: (i) available morning light and (ii) atmospheric conditions (wind / sun / clouds et al) before going out for a session.

My 'check' for best value photography is seen in the attached image: for the absolute best conditions this is what I look / plan for (when I look out the window). So its quite possible that some people may think Photoshop played any role in the outcome of certain images.

Unfortunately, days like this on the image is far and few between. I wait it out and when the going is good, I get going. It doesn't mean we don't should around here in any other conditions.

It is also important to note that the serious photographer should be able to shoot in many different light conditions. Light is probably our biggest advantage, but without appropriate light, the challenges will increase thinking and planning (without rushing out to purchase higher-quality equipment).

We all use different levels of post-processing . I believe the serious photographer will (only) attempt to improve the well-planned shot in terms of slight adjustment(s) in the exposure and / or the composition, without altering the original 'naturalness' of the image.

Image created with Canon EOS 700D / Canon EF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens (on Manfrotto Compact tripod) from Arnhem Milnerton towards the main bridge at Woodbridge Island, Cape Town.

© Vernon Chalmers Photography

Source>>  Woodbridge Island Photography

Environmental Variables for Improved Birds in Flight Photography View

Introduction to the Photography Exposure Triangle

Learning Photography Exposure (For Application in Canon P / Av / Tv / M Modes) 

Introduction to the Exposure Triangle: ISO / Aperture / Shutter Speed
Canon EOS 70D / 300mm Lens ISO 100 f/13 1/125s

Learning Photography Exposure:  ISO / Aperture / Shutter Speed

The objective of this article is to provide new photographers (irrespective of Canon EOS / EOS R / PowerShot camera) with an introduction to the Exposure Triangle and the inter-relationship between the three fundamental exposure elements:
  • ISO
  • Aperture 
  • Shutter Speed 

Camera / Lens EXIF Data
EXIF Data is the identification and listing of an information tag and its value (available for DSLR / Compact / Smartphone cameras after taking the photo) - generally found on your LCD screen viewing image detail or when downloaded in Google Picasa / Adobe Lightroom (and other camera / editing software). Read more>>


Introduction to the Exposure Triangle
Every photo taken with a DSLR / Compact / Smartphone camera will offer / use a variety of settings to expose an image as ideally as possible to the photographer’s vision and planning.

Exposure Triangle
Introduction to the Exposure Triangle: ISO / Aperture / Shutter Speed

Exposure Process
Exposure is a photographic process of light reflecting off a subject through the camera lens onto the camera's image sensor for a specific period of time. The relationship between ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed settings will determine the final exposure of light (for each image) captured by the camera's image sensor - and will represent a given Exposure Value (EV).

Relationship between ISO, Aperture and Shutter speed
In understanding ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed it’s important to note that all three are present in every photo you capture with your camera. The degree in which they are applied will depend on various camera and / or lens settings and lighting conditions. The main camera control over the inter-relationship between the three will be decided by the photographer in selecting the most appropriate shooting mode (in Auto Mode the camera will select the exposure settings, with limited other manual / photographic control).

Aperture demonstration for new photographers View

In most cameras today you will not find ISO / Aperture / Shutter Speed settings on the main mode dial of the camera, but either as separate switchgear or tucked inside the menu system – to be used with other settings (when selecting your shooting mode (Auto / P / Av / Tv / M Mode).

Auto-ISO is also an option that many new and experienced photographers are using.


Photographic Genres and the Exposure Triangle
As we developed as photographers we learn how to properly set the exposure for different genres. With Birds in Flight (action) a fast enough shutter speed will be a priority, for a distant landscape the attention / focus will be on a smaller aperture / f/stop. In long exposure / night photography we would like to keep the ISO as low as possible to minimize noise, but may opt for a 30 seconds or longer expose (ito of shutter speed). At all times all three settings of the Exposure Triangle will be configured to assist the photographer with the type of exposure required.

Camera Shooting Modes
In Automatic Mode the camera will decide the exposure settings for the photographer, in the Semi-Automatic Modes (Av / Tv) the camera will decide at least one exposure setting and in Manual Mode the photographer could take full control of all three exposure settings - many photographers who prefer Manual Mode may leave the ISO on Automatic and only set the aperture and the shutter speed.

P Mode Canon PowerShot SX40 HS f/5.6 ISO 100
P Mode: Canon PowerShot SX40 HS f/5.6 ISO 100

All DSLR cameras and the more advanced compact cameras will have at least the following shooting modes in which the ISO / Aperture / Shutter Speed exposure setting will be automatically / manually controlled by camera and / or the photographer.

Auto Mode
In Automatic Mode the camera will decide the best exposure and the photographer will have no control over any ISO / Aperture / Shutter Speed settings. Best use: when new to photography and / or uncertain about setting in changing light conditions.

Program (P) Mode
In P mode the camera will control Aperture and Shutter Speed with the photographer full control over ISO settings. Best use: when new to photography, shooting in changing conditions, but have control over ISO settings. Program (P) Mode demonstration Canon PowerShot SX40 HS

Aperture Priority (Av) Mode
In Av mode the camera will control Shutter Speed with the photographer full control over Aperture and ISO settings.

Best use: when controlling aperture settings for Depth Of Field (DOF) application in ie. macro / landscape / portraiture / street photography. seascapes / Table Mountain photography Canon EOS 6DCanon EOS 700D DSLR


Shutter Priority (Tv) Mode
In Tv mode the camera will control Aperture with the photographer in full control of Shutter Speed and ISO settings.

Best use: when controlling shutter speed for subjects in motion or to freeze motion of birds, people and other objects. Motor Sport / Action photography 
Canon EOS 70D DSLR.

Manual (M) Mode
In M mode the photographer will have full control over ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed settings.

Best use
: when the photographer requires full manual control over all three settings in specific environments in ie. studio, changing light or other challenging conditions. Birds In Flight photography Canon EOS 7D Mark II


Example Image: Inter-relationship of ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed

Image 1 : Canon EOS 7D Mark II  / 400mm lens Av Mode f/5.6

More of this Shoot  World of Birds Hout Bay Cape Town

S
hooting mode: Av (Aperture Priority) with the following EXIF data: 
  • ISO 640 – (Auto-ISO - controlled by Camera
  • f/5.6 - (aperture – controlled by photographer)
  • 1/90s - (shutter speed – controlled by camera)

Interpretation and interaction of these exposure EXIF data readings:


P Mode: EOS 700D / 10-18mm Lens IS0 800 f/4.5

ISO
ISO is the abbreviation for International Standards Organisation and an indicator of the sensitivity of light entering the lens onto the sensor. Its measured in values of ISO 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400 and 12 800. Most cameras will also have an option for Auto-ISO. More advanced / professional digital cameras could have and ISO of up to ISO 51200+ (ie. Canon EOS 1D X). Most cameras including compact cameras will give an ISO range of 100 – 6400+ which is suitable for most lighting conditions.

ISO 100 is generally the setting used for outside / bright light photography and will be set higher as outside natural light or internal artificial light deteriorates. Not uncommon to set ISO 400 for indoor lighting and up to ISO 1600 for outside / low light photography. These various ISO settings are available for the photographer to adjust
for low light photography – even to leave the camera on Auto-ISO (for changing daylight / overcast conditions). It is recommended to experiment with ISO 400 - 1600 for after dark / night photography. When doing long exposures (slow shutter speeds) it is recommended to use ISO 100 - 400. Higher ISO demonstration Canon EOS 700D DSLR

Recommended ISO settings:

  • ISO 100 or 200 for sunny and bright daylight 
  • ISO 400 ISO for cloudy days, or indoors 
  • ISO 800 for indoors (without a flash) 
  • ISO 1600+ for very low light situations 

Disadvantages of high ISO settings:

  • More noise visible in the image the higher the ISO value
  • Higher ISO’s affects slower shutter speeds (for possible camera shake if handheld)
Introduction to the Exposure Triangle: ISO / Aperture / Shutter Speed
Image 2 - Av Mode: f/5.6 ISO 400 1/90s
Aperture
Aperture is the size of the space in which light enters the lens / camera. It is measured in f/stops - a fractional formula used for allowing a certain amount of light in - ie. f/5.6 or f/11 which is controlled by the photographer via a variety of ways ie. manually doing it in Av or Manual mode on the camera body). In Auto or P mode (and Tv Mode) the camera will decide the aperture for you). Aperture is (also) used to control Depth Of Field DOF). DOF / close-up photography in Av mode 
Aperture values

f/1.8  f/2.8  f/4  f5.6  f/8  f/16  f/19  f/22 f/32 (This is lens 
dependent on a DSLR camera system, but in most cameras the setting will be on camera body). 


Image 2 EXIF Data: Av Mode

ISO 400 (low light)

f/5.6 (wide aperture for shallow Depth-Of-Field)

Shutter Sped 1/90 seconds

Deep vs; Shallow Depth-Of-Field (DOF) 
With a deep DOF more of the entire image will be in focus and its more likely to be used in Landscape Photography with smaller apertures of ie. f/11 – f/16. With shallow DOF certain areas of an image is deliberately out of focus and be used in a variety of genres (Wildlife / Sport / Macro / Portraits) where the photographer deliberately wants to separate the main subject from the
background - for this effect, larger apertures will be applied ie. f/1.4 - f/8 (see below image)



Lens Apertures f/2 - f/22


Introduction to the Exposure Triangle: ISO / Aperture / Shutter Speed

Aperture Demo: Canon EOS 6D / EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Lens f/1.8 - f/22  View 


Lens apertures In DSLR photography different lenses are used to create / select different levels of DOF depending on the lens aperture range, optical length of the lens and distance from subject. Different lenses / aperture settings will be applied for different type of photography genres requiring blur effects at various focal lengths ie. for close-up / macro, portraiture or wildlife photography. A DSLR camera system is not necessarily required for creating deliberate image blur, a compact camera with a wide aperture lens with some optical zoom will also work to some extent.

See Aperture / DOF Demonstration Aperture / DOF Demo

Aperture is used to control the exposure of a deep or a shallow Depth Of field (DOF) for a specific composition. A smaller f/number allows more light into the camera via the lens ie. f/2.8-f/5.6 and will create a shallow DOF for a close-up subject against a background (isolating a flower from its surroundings). See article Digital Noise vs Blur

Introduction to the Exposure Triangle: ISO / Aperture / Shutter Speed
Image 3: Canon EOS 7D Mark II  : 1/3200s Manual Mode
Shutter Speed
Shutter speed is the length of time the camera's shutter is open (and closing) allowing light onto the sensor for a given time period. Shutter speed is always measured in time. Measured in fractions of a second ie.1/125 seconds, but can extend past 30 seconds up to hours. Most digital cameras will have a default range from 1/4000 – 30 seconds. But can be faster up to 1/8000 depending on the DSLR model.

Slow shutter speed
Refer to the article ‘Long Exposures / Night Photography Setup & Tips
(Using Av mode) 
long exposure demo for specific
examples to learn more about specific shutter speeds.

Fast shutter speed
To freeze motion photographers use fast shutter speeds to ie freeze the wings
of a bird in motion. See Image 3 
for the example
in which I captured the Bird In Flight (Image 3) at a shutter speed of 1/3200 seconds using Manual Mode: f/6.3  ISO 500 (Auto- ISO).

Suggested Shutter Speeds

To Capture Motion
  • Moving water / waterfalls 4+ seconds
  • Fireworks 4+ seconds
  • Moving car at night 8+ seconds
  • Night photography 1+ seconds

To Freeze Action
  • Birds in flight 1/1000+
    seconds
  • Moving water / waterfalls
    1/1000+ seconds
  • Cars / motorcycles 1/1000 seconds
  • Sporting event 1/500 –
    1/2000 seconds

Canon  EOS 700D / 100mm Lens f/11 ISO 200 1/125s

Conclusion
The ‘Exposure Triangle’ settings will be available before every photograph is captured. For the new photographer Auto-mode and / or semi-auto modes such as P / Av / Tv modes will provide assistance in getting the best exposure for a given shooting environment.

New photographers should be in no rush to ‘have to’ understand all exposure settings and shootings modes as soon as possible. Learning about them is important, but more important is getting comfortable with your camera, menu settings and your compositions.

Photography is a visually inspiring journey that if allowed, will not just develop camera / photographic skills or exploring different environments, but contribute to an overall mindfulness and satisfaction of great image capturing (and sharing).


Canon Camera Equipment Used (for example images)
  • Canon EOS 6D DSLR Camera body
  • Canon EOS 7D Mark II Camera body
  • Canon EOS 70D DSLR Camera body 
  • Canon EOS 700D DSLR Camera body 
  • Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM lens 
  • Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens 
  • Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II lens 
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens
  • Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM lens 
  • Canon EF 24-70mm f4L IS USM lens
  • Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens
  • Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens 
  • Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Telephoto / Prime lens 
  • Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5 - 5.6L IS II USM Zoom lens
  • Canon Speedlite 430EX II external hotshoe flash 

Cape Town Shooting Locations
  • Birds in Flight: Woodbridge Island Cape Town
  • Fashion: Partners Hair Design Kenilworth Cape Town
  • Fireworks / Ferris Wheel: V&A Waterfront Cape Town
  • Flowers: Arnhem Milnerton Cape Town
  • Flowers Aurora Durbanville Cape Town
  • Motor Racing Killarney Cape Town
  • Perched Bird: Blouberg Strand Cape Town
  • Perched Bird: World of Birds Hout Bay Cape Town

All Text / Images / Partners Hair Model © Vernon Chalmers 2013 - 2017


(Click to Enlarge)
Canon EOS 70D / EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Lens f/4 ISO 1600


Introduction to the Exposure Triangle: ISO / Aperture / Shutter Speed
Canon EOS 6D / 70-300mm Lens Av Mode: ISO 320  f/10  1/320s

Introduction to the Exposure Triangle: ISO / Aperture / Shutter Speed
Canon EOS 70D / 400mm Lens Manual Mode: ISO 320  f/6.3  1/2000s

Introduction to the Exposure Triangle: ISO / Aperture / Shutter Speed
Canon EOS 6D / 24-70mm Lens Av Mode: ISO 100  f/16  15s

Fireworks Canon EOS 700D ISO 100  f/11 8s
Fireworks Canon EOS 700D ISO 100  f/11  8s

Introduction to the Exposure Triangle: ISO / Aperture / Shutter Speed
Canon  EOS 70D / 100mm Lens f/2.8 ISO 5000 1/110s

Introduction to the Exposure Triangle: ISO / Aperture / Shutter Speed
Canon EOS 70D / EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM Lens f/11 1/160s

Canon Long Exposure / Night Photography Setup & Tips View

Introduction to Birds in Flight Photography

Introduction to Birds in Flight Photography Cape Town: Camera / Lens Settings & Tips

Vernon Chalmers Bird in flight Photographer Milnerton, Cape Town

Freezing the motion of a bird in flight (BIF) Demo Images
Canon EOS 7D Mark II  / 400mm Lens ISO 500 / f/6.3 / 1/3200s

There are access to various resources on the Vernon Chalmers Photography website on how photograph birds in flight, the resources that I have developed and a few tips and other resources I have developed over the more than ten years a a birds in flight photographer and photography trainer.


Canon EOS SETUP and Tips for Birds in Flight 
Photography

Canon EOS 70D Birds In Flight Canon EOS 70D / EF 400mm Lens

Canon EOS 80D Birds in flight Photography Canon EOS 80D

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Birds in Flight 10 Frames Per Second Demo

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

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


Starting Out with Birds in Flight Photography View

Canon EOS Setup and Tips For Birds in Flight Photography View

Tracking Variables for Improved Birds in Flight Photography View

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Application For View

Birds in Flight Photography Training Gift Vouchers View

Canon EOS 700D / EF-S 55-250mm IS II lens (Tv Mode)
One advantage of using fast shutter speeds is the freezing of motion of birds in flight (BIF). On a DSLR and / or advanced compact / bridge camera this is achieved by either Manual or Tv (Shutter Priority) Mode.

DSLR vs Compact / Bridge Camera (ito faster lenses / higher shutter speeds)
The advantage of a DSLR over a compact camera (imo after various tests) will be faster autofocus, improved lens image-stabilisation (IS) and the bigger image sensor (for improved low light shooting, depth of field and possibly some framing).

EXIF data (Images Below)

  • Canon EOS 700D body
  • EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS lens
  • Tv Mode 
  • Shutter speed: 1/1000s 
  • Aperture: f/8 (selected by camera) 
  • ISO 250 - 320
  • Focal length: 280mm (slightly cropped) 
  • Multi-Shot Mode / AI Servo / RAW

Cape Town Location / Conditions
Milnerton Lagoon / Cape Town (30/07/2014)
Sunny / Windy


Below Images: Canon EOS 700D / EF 70-300mm IS USM Lens
Canon EOS 700D / EF 70-300mm IS USM lens
Canon EOS 700D / EF 70-300mm IS USM f/8 ISO 320 1/1000s Multi-Shot Mode IA Servo


Canon EOS 700D / EF 70-300mm IS USM lens
Canon EOS 700D / EF 70-300mm IS USM f/8 ISO 250 1/1000s Multi-Shot Mode IA Servo

Vernon Chalmers Photography Workshops Cape Town View

Birds in Flight Photography Cape Town View

Canon Photography Training Milnerton Woodbridge Island | Kirstenbosch Cape Town | Around the Cape Peninsula

ISO Decisions and Preferences with Canon EOS R6

ISO Decisions and Preferences with Canon EOS R Cameras

ISO Decisions and Preferences with Canon EOS R6 Image Copyright Vernon Chalmers Perched Bird
ISO Decision Canon EOS R6 © Vernon Chalmers for Canon South Africa

Using Auto-ISO versus a Fix ISO in Canon EOS R6

For Birds and Birds in Flight Photography, Woodbridge Island | Cape Town 

I regularly make reference to my Auto-ISO preference for birds in flight photography at Woodbridge Island, Cape Town - and from time to time perched birds with Auto-ISO.

I generally use apertures (f/stops) between f/4 – 6.3 (depending on the lens used). Shutter speeds are mainly set between 1/2500 – 1/3200 depending on the light (and for covering most of the bird speeds). 

Please Note: Above settings (recommendations) are just for birds / birds in flight handheld (no tripod or other assistance).

This changed (using Auto-ISO) for the first time in many years after reviewed the Canon EOS R6 for Canon South Africa. Fortunately this was nothing to do with the impressive Canon EOS R6 Full Frame body, but rather the RF 600mm f/11 IS STM / RF 800mm f/11 IS STM lenses I was given for a review in rather poor light conditions at the time (note: both lenses have a fix aperture o f/11).

This was the first time ever I have prepared for perched birds / birds in flight photography with such a small aperture. A major concern was the fix f/11-stop at such long focal lengths for the absolute atrocious winter light (and the dark backgrounds in the Table Bay Nature Reserve further down the Diep River).

ISO Decisions and Preferences with Canon EOS R6 Image Copyright Vernon Chalmers Bird in flight
The first morning I went out with the Canon R6 and the RF 600mm f/11 IS STM lens and I had high hopes that the Canon EOS Full Frame sensor at f/11 and Auto-ISO should be acceptable. 

The results were far from acceptable. The Auto-ISO average was at ISO 3200 and shutter speeds were between 1/2500 – 1/3200).

The following morning I used a fix ISO between 640 – 800. Eventually settling with ISO 640 / f/11 / 1/3200s (to cover the different speeds as I would do with any other EOS and my f/4 – f/6.3 apertures and 1/2500 – 1/4000 shutter speeds on the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5L IS USM and EF 400mm f/5.6L USM lenses.

Canon EOS R6 First Impressions and Sample Images >>
I concluded the 'winter week' at shooting mostly at ISO 640, due to the poor light, but was satisfied of what the two RF lenses delivered attached to the Canon EOS R6.

Taking advantage of Auto ISO - Official Canon Article >>

Page Image Information : Birds / Birds in Flight Photography (Woodbridge Island / Cape Town)

Image 1: Cape canary with Canon EOS R6 / RF 800mm f/11 IS STM Lens

Image 2: Grey heron in flight with Canon EOS R6  / RF 800mm f/11 IS STM Lens

Image 3: Cape reed warbler with Canon EOS R6 / RF 800mm f/11 IS STM Lens

ISO Decisions and Preferences with Canon EOS R6 / RF Lens
ISO Decisions and Preferences with Canon EOS R6 / RF Lens 800mm f/11IS STM Lens

Canon Photography Training Milnerton Woodbridge Island | Kirstenbosch Cape Town

Starting out with Birds in Flight Photography

Starting out with an Introduction to Canon Birds in Flight Photography

Starting out with Birds in Flight Photography
Starting out with Birds in Flight Photography

Introduction to Canon Birds in Flight Photography
Many photographers, when they first getting interested in Birds in Flight / Action Photography, are of opinion that they require professional grade gear, or at least the latest and / or greatest DSLR / Lens combination that they can afford.

With more than 10 years of personal experience in the capturing of Birds in Flight and the training and development of new photographers in the capturing of Birds in Flight I have seen quite a number of substantial improvements via the photographer's ability without any significant change in body and / or lens combinations.

The more advanced Canon APS-C or Full Frame bodies (paired with i.e. a 300mm or 400mm prime lens) will provide for an excellent basis to start from, but from personal experience I have seen / consulted many new photographers with professional grade equipment coming to my Birds in Flight Photography Private Training / Workshops with the total honesty (and frustration) of not being successful in this exciting action genre. 

Also read: Setup and Tips for Birds in Flight Photography

What I tell many Cape Town photographers staring out with Birds in Flight Photography is that they may just have a possible body / lens combination in their bags without spending any money on new gear.

'Gear Acquisition Syndrome'
Birds in Flight Photography gear acquisition (as referred to tongue-in-cheek globally as GAS - 'Gear Acquisition Syndrome') can very quickly spiral out of control for new photographers putting gear first and not considering a more complete range of requirements / skills development for getting started. I generally recommend Birds in Flight photography delegates / beginners not to make any changes to current gear for at least three to six months (to focus on skills development first).

Birds in Flight Photography Learning and Training Opportunities Cape Town
For Birds in Flight Photography training and shooting opportunities please Contact me

Capturing Birds in Flight is a combination of the following requirements:

DSLR Bodies: FPS / AF / Shutter Speed
Any DSLR capable of shooting between 4 and 14 frames per second (fps) in continuous shooting mode are suitable for Birds in Flight. I.e the Canon EOS 600D / 700D's at 5 fps will get the job done. Even entry-level DSLR bodies with a limited 9-Point Autofocus (AF) system is responsive enough for tracking fast flying birds. 


Starting out with Birds in Flight Photography
Shutter Speed: 1/3200s - 400mm prime Lens
Understanding and application of shutter speed is a critical requirement in my view. About all DSLR's will offer shutter speeds of a maximum of 1/4000s up to 1/8000s (in some higher-end bodies) of which all is suitable for freezing the wings of most birds.

I generally use 1/3200s to 1/4000s shutter speeds for the majority of my Birds in Flight photography.

Popular Lenses for Birds in Flight Photography
After training many new Birds in Flight photographers at Woodbridge Island, Cape Town the following Canon, Sigma and Tamron lenses are the most popular for Canon APS-C and Full Frame bodies:
  • Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM prime lens
  • Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens
  • Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM prime lens
  • Canon EF 300mm f/4L IS USM prime lens
  • Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens
  • Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS (II) USM lenses
  • Sigma 150-500 / 600mm lenses
  • Tamron 150-600mm lenses

Starting out with Birds in Flight Photography Cape Town
With Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM prime Lens
Lenses: Minimum Focal Length and Apertures
Telephoto zoom kit lenses in the minimum focal length range of +- 250mm are just about suitable as an entry lens choice for starting out at Woodbridge Island, Cape Town - as some areas will allow for very close access to low flying birds.

The 55-250mm or the 70-300mm variable-aperture f/4-5.6 tele-zoom lenses can't really be compared with the optical quality of a prime lens of 300mm or 400mm lens (with apertures of f/4 or f5/6), but under sufficient light you will be surprised of what is achievable - even at f/8 (the 'sweet spot' for image quality / sharpness of many 70-300mm lenses). 

Image one:  King Gull captured using an entry-level DSLR (EOS 700D) and the kit variable aperture zoom lens (Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.5.6 IS II Lens)

Image two:  Grey Heron captured using an entry-level Canon DSLR (EOS 700D) and a consumer variable aperture lens (Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM lens).

Image three:  Reed Cormorant captured using a mid-range enthusiast Canon DSLR (EOS 70D) and the very cost-effective 400mm telephoto lens (Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM lens)

Image four:  Swift Tern captured using a semi-professional Canon DSLR (EOS 7D Mark II) and the very cost-effective 400mm telephoto lens (Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM lens)

Image five:  Pied Kingfisher captured using a semi-professional Canon DSLR (EOS 6D) and sharp and fast Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens)

Image six:  Swift Tern captured using a semi-professional Canon DSLR (EOS 6D) and professional-grade prime super-telephoto Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM lens)

The biggest success criteria of the three images below are not the gear, but the most applicable exposure settings, quality of the light and the fact that I was quite close to the bird with an anticipation / understanding of the subjects's behaviour / flying pattern(s).

Birds in Flight Photography: Skills / Techniques
With learning any new photography genre there is a learning curve. Only many hours in the field will ensure the understanding and mastering of the most suitable camera body / AF / lens settings and the best exposure modes for action photography (ito best results for depth of filed, subject sharpness and overall satisfaction rate of the photographer).

It can take anything from six months or longer for getting a thorough understanding of the camera / lens settings, exposure settings and to learn the different bird birds ito their flying and general behaviour patterns. The objective should not be to master this as quick as possible, but to take time to learn, have fun and spend time with like-minded photographers.

Personal Dedication: Commitment / Motivation
I've seen many of my Birds in Flight Photography delegates increasing their Birds in Flight capturing skills over time well past the original workshop and practical shoots. Some then go on to purchase new and more advanced bodies and lenses, but most just keep on working their skills lens (by shooting as often as they can, asking as many questions as possible and not be afraid to experiment with camera / lens and exposure setting.

Two Cost-Effective Canon Birds in Flight Lens Options - Go Here>>

Capturing / Tracking Variables for Improved Birds in Flight Photography
Capturing / Tracking Variables for Improved Birds in Flight Photography

Starting out with Birds in Flight Photography King Gull: Canon EOS 700D / EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II Lens
King Gull: Canon EOS 700D / EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II zoom Lens

Starting out with Birds in Flight Photography - Grey Heron: Canon EOS 700D / EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens
Grey Heron: Canon EOS 700D / EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM zoom Lens


Starting out with Birds in Flight Photography - Reed Cormorant: Canon EOS 70D / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
Reed Cormorant: Canon EOS 70D / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM prime Lens


Starting out with Birds in Flight Photography - Swift Tern: Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
Swift Tern: Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM prime Lens

Starting out with Birds in Flight Photography - Pied Kingfisher: Canon EOS 6D / EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM Lens
Pied Kingfisher: Canon EOS 6D / EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM prime Lens


Starting out with Birds in Flight Photography Cape Town - Swift Tern: Canon EOS 6D / EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens
Swift Tern: Canon EOS 6D / EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM prime Lens

Birds in Flight Photography Cape Town

Birds in Flight Photography Cape Town

All 9 Birds in Flight images were captured around the Milnerton Lagoon / Woodbridge Island, Cape Town in mostly early morning and sunny conditions.

Canon Photography Training Milnerton Woodbridge Island | Kirstenbosch Cape Town

Getting to know your Canon Autofocus System

Learning the Canon Autofocus System (for Birds in Flight Photography)
 
Getting to know your camera's Autofocus (AF) System for Action Photography
With Canon EOS 7D Mark II  :   Zone AF Mode / Case 1

Canon Autofocus System
Inside the modern Canon EOS / EOS R camera (and all other brands for that matter) is an Autofocus (AF) System for assisting the photographer for tracking and capturing any type of shot (not just action).

Some of these systems use a basic 9-Point deployment and it can go up to an advanced and user-configurable 65-Points (and more) with various AF Cases and AF Mode (different options for tracking a variety of static / moving subjects).

The new Canon EOS R System bodies (Canon EOS R3 / EOS R5 / EOS R6) features Canon's Dual Pixel CMOS II on-sensor Autofocus with over 5500 AF-Points).

Canon Dual Pixel CMOS AF II in the EOS R5 and EOS R6 Explained >>

I personally don't mind if I'm shooting with any of the current Canon AF Systems. More important is to get familiar with the various configurations of the AF system, its responsiveness and tracking ability vs the photographer's skill set and physical responsiveness.

I've seen many new photographers improving their action photography over time and its basically two main areas:

Getting to know the Camera and AF System
This is something that can take months to learn and to develop an intuitive understanding of the camera / AF system's ability with different action genres and in different light conditions.

Anticipation and tracking fast moving subjects
New action photographers are quickly discouraged when they fail to even see the subject (i.e. bird in flight) in the camera's viewfinder. It can take three to six months of regular weekend shooting for mastering the anticipation and tracking of fast flying birds (in relation to physical responsiveness and getting to know the camera's various support systems).

Article: Tracking Variables for Improved Birds in Flight Photography View>>

In my Birds in flight photography skills development training (and other training) I'm more than aware of the different challenges that new photographers may have, different cameras and different levels of physical reflexes for learning and mastering fast action photography.

During training I use the Lightroom Show Focus Points Plugin for identifying and demonstrating to new photographers exactly where they / their camera placed the AF points relative to the moving subject.

The first of the two images (top image) is the post-processed image of a common starling captured last week at Woodbridge Island with the Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM lens.

The second image (below this paragraph) is a cut and paste from Lightroom showing the AF points array of the Canon EOS 7D Mark II 's 65-Point AF points superimposed on the common starling image. The two boxes with dark red and black borders are the two AF points with which focus was achieved. The red and white boxes is the specific zone I selected (for moving subjects in this case).

On the right of the image is the Focus Information and Legend section informing the photographer exactly what exposure settings / AF settings was used to capture the subject.

Adobe Lightroom Show Focus Point Plugin for AF Tracking and Exposure Assistance

Lightroom AF-Point Plugin
The Lightroom AF-Point Plugin is an essential part of the developing photographers learning and is freely available for most current and older versions of Lightroom. For more information on the Lightroom Show Autofocus Points Plugin Go Here>>

Digital Photo Professional (DPP)
Canon's own Digital Photo Professional (DPP) editing and post-processing suite will have a similar function albeit with much less data. More information on downloading and using Digital Photo Professional (DPP) 4.16 for PC and Mac Go here>>

Testimony of the Modern Autofocus System View

Birds in Flight Photography Training Cape Town View

Vernon Chalmers Photography Popular Posts