Shooting birds within limited 'reach':-
I think, we
all photograph birds because, we love and admire them and in doing so, we often
feel the crisis of a long telephoto lens so that we can shoot the bird from a certain distance without frightening/disturbing it. Approaching
a bird hastily in its habitat often result in disappointment coz after one or two try
the bird flies away. A good 500mm is not enough (many people regret even after
having a 600 or 800mm!) in this case and many of us don’t have that big gun;
hence we only compromise with 300mm or 400mm (not talking of 2.8 monsters) lenses!
|Siberian Stonechat, Canon 300mm f4 + Canon 1.4 tcii, 1/320, f8 , iso 320|
|Canon 300mm f4 + Canon 1.4Tc ii, 1/640, f11,
iso 400, +0.3 Ev, HH|
Getting a desired bird shot using 300/400 mm focal length is tough enough but, you can do very manageable photography within you limited reach by simply learning some good "field craft" like.... stalking. The photograph of the Small Pratincole (right) I took after crawling 50 mt. on the sandy river bed. With the passing time, the bird found no threat out of me and it allowed me.
Stalking means approaching a bird on foot. Stalking may give you some extra pleasure despite all its hostility (sweat/cold) coz, it gives the primitive feel like ‘hunting’. Bird stalking can be done by kneeling, standing or by crawling (as I did above). There are following things to be done on or before stalking.....
ü Before stalking make sure that your camera is ‘on’ or set on your desired settings.
ü Do not wear loud colored clothes. You'll be easily spotted if you wear a red shirt or so.
ü Leave your backpack, water bottle etc. behind because, you may get exhausted quickly due to some extra weight.
|Temminck's Stint Canon 400mm 5.6L, 1/640, f8, iso 800|
( I made this image simply by waiting flat on the mud-field where the bird was feeding. It accepted me in the environment and came so close that I couldn't focus at times )
ü Don’t approach the bird in a straight way, rather take a zig-zag way.
ü While approaching, do not aim your lens + camera at the bird or don’t look at the bird’s eye directly.
ü The bird you approaching may take you as a potential threat and if it stops feeding, rises it’s head/neck looking around; stop approaching! After sometime the bird will start feeding again and then you can go in quietly without making any sudden movement.
ü During your approach stop for a while and photograph. It ensures that you are not missing a record shot of the species.
ü Finally you will be ignored by the bird and then you can take your desired shot.
|Citrine Wagtail Canon 400mm 5.6L, 1/500, f8, iso 400|
(I saw the Wagtail
making meal of
by the Water Lily.
I simply laid on
belly choosing a
flower and got this!)
Every bird has its own tolerance zone. Big birds fly from far away and small birds let you go much closer. Do not harass any bird by chasing it. Birds around humanity are much easier to approach than those who are not in contact with human beings. Kingfishers, Stonechats and many other birds have their personal liking for a particular perch in a particular area. Watch them carefully and sitting quietly near their desired perch may result in a great photograph. Happy clicking....
|Siberian Stonechat Canon 300mm f4 + Canon 1.4 Tc ii, 1/200, f8, iso 400|
To be continued......