23 January 2023

Using a Birds in Flight Lens for Small Static Subjects

Canon 400mm Lens for Static Subjects with Birds in Flight Photography Settings

Birds in Flight Lens for Small Static Subjects - Intaka Island
Birds in Flight Lens / Settings for Small Static Subjects - Intaka Island

Long lens for random static subjects when the objective is predominantly high-speed action

This is what I love about a 'long lens' at 400mm, birds in flight settings and a static subject without changing anything (and trusting my kit in hand to deliver).

Wild flower during last week's Intaka Island birds in flight client practical.

Canon camera / lens was setup for birds in flight, but its possible to immediately / in between in-flight shots capture some static subjects as well. The higher shutter speed will not really have an effect on image quality. The higher ISO could, but it is removable in post-processing without losing too much detail (depending on the quality of the camera's image sensor, but I don't regard this as too important if the light is reasonable to good).

What works well here is the fact that there was relatively good separation between the subject and the background - it adds to a more solid blurred look - therefore 'popping' the main subject against the reeds / grass.

An aperture of f/6.1 - f/8 would have secured more sharpness across the subject, but for me, while engaging in in-flight photography with little time between birds I take the known risk of a bigger aperture for these type of in-between shots - at least is will provide for a shallower depth of field. With enough time I would change to Av Mode, a smaller aperture, with no substantial impact on Auto-ISO. The flower was less important in my general application a the time, but important enough to share it with the developing photographer in terms of the 'what-if' scenarios.

For close-up shots like this I prefer using Av Mode and Auto-ISO to know that the ISO will come down with a few stops, but with birds randomly in front of the lens I don't change anything - as the birds in flight is the main priority and therefore Manual Mode works best to control aperture and shutter speed.

For predominantly static subjects the shutter speed is not that important (for my purpose) and Av Mode (Aperture Priority) is more often the better option - the modern DSLR camera will in most cases select a good ISO exposure to match your selected aperture and distance to subject / and quality of light.

Canon Equipment and Exposure Settings
Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM lens 
Manual Mode: Auto-ISO 2000 / f/5.6 / 1/2000's - handheld

Vernon Chalmers Photography Training Intaka Island | Kirstenbosch Garden | Woodbridge Island