Birds in FlightDuring a short stay on the island of Texel, I temporarily changed my photographic diet back to the birds. Not a big surprise I guess, as Texel is renowned for its birdlife. Photographers from all over Europe visit the island during spring for species as ducks, gulls, terns, waders, spoonbills and raptors.

As it is nesting season, birds fly around a lot. A good opportunity to try and capture birds in flight, or BIF if you like. Instead of just venturing into a nesting colony and simply shoot everything that comes close enough for a frame filler, sit down for a moment and do some thinking:

1) Determine wind direction. Birds will always land and take off against the wind. So the best circumstances for good flight shots are when both the light and wind come from over your shoulder. When the wind comes from another direction, change your location for silhouettes or just be happy with loads of butt-shots.

2) Try to focus (literally) on a single bird. It is impossible to predict the flight pattern of a bird that by accident flies through the viewer. Instead, find a bird that takes off from a nest close to where you are. Pick it up in your viewfinder and track the bird until it lands at the exact right spot. This will certainly improve your chances on a shot of a landing bird such as the one you see here. Can you guess where the wind came from?

3) Increase the ISO. Shooting birds in flight is not easy. Only larger birds as geese, swans and gulls fly slow enough to get sharp images at say 1/250s. With terns, waders and ducks, you need 1/1000s or even faster. Don’t be afraid to increase the ISO to get a fast enough shutterspeed. Better a sharp shot with some noise, than a noiseless blur, right?

Common Tern in landing; Canon 1D Mark III w. 500/4 IS and 1,4x; 1/1250s at F8 and ISO 400; Handheld

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