Up INTRODUCTION 1-Equipment 2-Depth-of-Field 3-Film Speed 4-Shutter Speed 5-Flash 6-Technique 7-Hummingbirds 8-Exposure 9-Birds Outside


Bird-Flight Photography

     Itís time to get excited! You are about to embark on a wonderful and exhilarating adventure in photography, for you are going to learn how to photograph something you canít see with the naked eye -- the beautiful and spectacular wings of birds in flight.  Photographically freezing a birdís wings in a variety of flight positions often produces stunning photographs as well as increasing our knowledge of birds, the true aerobatic masters of the sky.

     This book will take you to the ďcutting edgeĒ of freezing high-speed action with a standard camera and flash.  Once youíve mastered these techniques as manifested with your breathtaking bird photographs, and you will do just that, donít tell your friends how easy it is.  Letís keep the secret, the mystique, and the magic, just between us.

     You may be a beginner in the field of photography or you might be an expert curious about different photographic techniques.  You might be a well-versed amateur compiling a photographic essay on birds for a college project or you might be a shut-in wanting to learn about photographing birds from one of your home windows.  In each of these cases and in many others, this book will address your needs and explain the pertinent photographic theories and techniques.


How To Take This Course

     No matter which category you fall into -- professional, amateur, hobbyist, beginner -- please read this entire book in order, even the chapters that may not pertain to your camera type or your particular interest.  This book is not an anthology that can be read in any order.  In this text, each chapter builds on the previous chapterís material and also helps to increase your understanding for subsequent chapters. Many references are made to specific techniques explained in prior chapters, and often these techniques are presented in a very unusual manner compared to other photography texts.  You may feel you understand depth of field or electronic flash, but I strongly suggest that you read these chapters anyway, for they are critically important to mastering bird flight photography.  The chapter ďExposure,Ē for example, presents its material in an extremely unconventional way.  Even though you may feel you fully understand how to set your cameraís exposure, I think you might be surprised with what this chapter has to say on the subject.

     The photographic techniques presented in these chapters are fascinating and may be successfully applied to many photographic situations other than birds. After reading this book on how to photograph birds in flight, youíll be amazed at what youíll be able to accomplish with your camera at weddings, family reunions, sporting events, nature photography, etc. You may very well decide to experiment with a different type of camera in order to take advantage of the many different photographic methods presented throughout our upcoming adventure together. Therefore, I strongly suggest that you donít skip ahead, but carefully read each chapter sequentially.

     Beginners may need to read over some sections more than once; experts might be bored until I get to the point on some issues.  Stick with me regardless of your photographic status.  Iím sure the payoff, beautiful bird flight photographs, will be worth the time.

     Many photographic instructional books imply that the art of bird photography requires very expensive telephoto lenses, fancy cameras with very high shutter speeds, and photocell tripping devices costing several hundred dollars.  Radio controlled shutters are also mentioned in some of these books. They are devices that allow the photographer to plant a camera in a tree and trigger the shutter release by transmitting a radio signal several hundred feet away.  Some books also mention building blinds and portable umbrella tents out in a field to hide from birds.  If I were to follow these guidelines, I could photograph birds with only a few thousand dollars of equipment, only in the spring and summer without catching a cold, and only after hiding out in a hot tent all day waiting for a bird to land on a branch.  I prefer an easier method.

     When I photograph birds in flight, their wings are razor sharp in the finished prints.  I usually do not use telephoto lenses, photocell-tripping devices, radio controlled tripping devices, high shutter speeds or umbrella tents.  I do not swat mosquitoes and wipe away perspiration while I wait for my birds, but rather I sip cool lemonades while relaxing in an easy chair inside my house. I photograph birds in flight all year, even during winter, without leaving my home.  My lens is the one that came with my camera (50-mm), my shutter speed is 1/60th of a second, and my studio is not an open field as viewed from a narrow opening in a steamy umbrella tent, but rather my family room window.  If you want to go outside into the fields and enjoy the fresh air and feel the wind blowing on your brow, fine. I enjoy this very much as well. The photographic techniques presented in this book are equally effective when used in the field, the forest, the seashore, the mountains, the deserts, your backyard, or your family room.

     Sound impossible?  It isn't; nor is it difficult, for the secrets of the fabulous photographs you see in Nature and Wildlife magazines are just that -- secrets.  The photographs are actually

quite easy to take with very little equipment and only a basic understanding of elementary photography.  You do need interest and a willingness to learn, but those elements are necessary for pursuing any worthwhile endeavor.  If you have some patience, like to have fun, and enjoy occasional solitude accompanied by peace and quiet, then youíve got it made. Letís continue this exciting journey together.

     I find it fascinating that almost anyone, with a basic camera, can take incredible photographs of birds in flight from their kitchen window while preparing the family breakfast!  This is definitely a new approach to bird flight photography.  Also, the photographic techniques presented in this book are not limited to photographing birds.  You will find they work very well while photographing butterflies, animals, pets, children at play, outdoor sporting events, and many other situations.

About the Cover of this Book

Bird-Flight Photography

     I photographed this sparrow at 3:00 PM on a sunny 4th of July.  I used a shutter speed of 1/60th of a second.  I was eating a salami sandwich at the time and enjoying a tall, cool, tonic and lime.  How did I focus on a flying bird?  How did I freeze the wings at a shutter speed of only 1/60th of a second?  How did I make the background come out black on a sunny 4th of July?  Did I have mustard or mayonnaise on my salami sandwich?  Read on.  Youíll find the answers to these questions, and youíll have lots of fun.