After a couple mornings shooting in my field studio at my backyard bird feeder, I felt like I had pretty much nailed down the setup. I’ve got a few tweaks to figure out once I get a couple pieces of gear, but overall, I’m good to go. Now that I have the basics covered, I decided it was time to take the next step. My goal was to capture something more than just a bird sitting on a perch, I wanted some action! I had been sort of trying it for a few days, trying to get a picture of a chickadee taking off. I’d had a tiny bit of luck but mostly was getting out of focus images. So on Saturday, I decided to make that my single goal.
I setup my background and flashes a little bit differently. The flashes got moved closer to the background and closer to the bird. Basically, I set it up like I would a high speed flash setup to capture hummingbirds. Flashes get closer and their strength gets lowered and then the duration of the flash gets shorter and therefore the action gets frozen. I then focused on a single perch and waited. I set my frame, racked the focus a little bit forward from the perch, and used a cable release to take the shot anytime a chickadee landed on the perch.
In my morning session, I took 98 frames. I kept 1. As you can see, the timing was the issue. Getting the bird in the frame, much less in the right part of the frame, was crazy difficult. The small chickadees are just so fast that it was nearly impossible. A few Blue Jays came in and the timing was a ton easier but they were so big they didn’t fit in the frame. At the end of the morning though, I got a single frame that is in focus, sharp, and a dramatic moment with the wings raised. Proof of concept established and my setup and technique is solid. On to new tasks this week… Stay tuned!