Shooting birds in flight (BIF) is not an easy task. It takes years of practice and patience but the awestruck results makes it all worth it. In this article, EOS Professional Chee Kee Teo shares with us his useful tips and his experience shooting BIF with the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.
Chee Kee Teo
The Strengths of EOS 5D Mark IV for BIF Photography
1.) Versatility – It couples 7 fps with 30mp resolution to capture BIF with feather details. It is especially useful when shooting in close proximity to the birds.
2.) Good ISO Performance – The shutter can go as low as 1/1000s and ISO as high as 3200 in low light and produce good quality pictures. Try to get the desired composition in full frame in high ISO so that minimum cropping is required to retain picture quality.
Camera Settings for BIF
Shutter speed is an important parameter in BIF photography. Use 1/1600s to 1/2000s as a guideline. I go as low as 1/1000s in dim light, and as high as 1/3200s on a bright day.
f-stop – No fix rule here. Shutter speed makes the call. In dim light, go as low as the lens allow. In abundant light, go higher for more depth of field. My most common f-stop settings are between 4.5 to 6.3.
Set the ISO as low as possible to avoid noise. When the background is dark and the bird is light coloured, I prefer to set ISO just slightly under expose. This avoids details being burn out.
Techniques in BIF
Practise to get the bird in frame. Compensate accordingly if have tendency to point slightly left or right. Track the bird while half-pressed on the shutter button to focus.
A dot-sight may be used to help in BIF photography. It is situational whether to use dot-sight or viewfinder for BIF.
All settings and techniques mentioned previously are in preparation for the most important part of BIF, ie. the composition of the frame. Here are some things I consider to improve my composition:
1.) Interaction – When 2 animals interact for food fight, mating dances etc., it is the golden moment for composition.
2.) Feeding and behaviours
3.) Golden hours – Sunrise and sunsets BIF silhouettes can be intriguing.