BIF shooters, please help

Started Mar 15, 2014 | Questions thread
WilbaW Forum Pro • Posts: 11,549
Re: BIF shooters, please help

You've been given some very good direction, especially from AndyMulhearn. I'll just add a couple of things that haven't been mentioned.

Exposing for the light is a great way to go with BIFs. I use M, usually wide open, which is fine with L lenses like the 400/5.6. I like to use longer shutters than most recommend, like 1/1250 and 1/1600, to get a little blur in the pinion feathers to suggest motion, but go for 1/2000 to begin with if you have enough light. Then set ISO so that the meter shows around +1 and 2/3 to +2 when pointed at the sky in the direction you'll be shooting. That will give you consistent image brightness, whatever the colour of the bird or background, and will protect your highlights, which are easy to blow with white subjects.

These were shot like that -

Crested Tern, 400/5.6

Great Cormorant, 400/5.6 with 1.4 TC

Silver Gull, 400/5.6

Silver Gull, 70-300L

If you can keep a single AF point on the bird then sure, use the centre point, but you'll probably be better off in the typical single-bird-against-the-sky scenario to use all AF points. Just have the centre point on the bird when you trigger AF.

It can help a lot to first AF on something at a similar distance to where you think you will start tracking the bird. Then you can see the bird clearly and the AF has an easy job to lock on when you trigger it again.

To begin with I wouldn't make things more complicated for yourself by using the back button if you're not used to it. That's icing on the cake, get your cake baked first (AF and exposure settings are the ingredients, and tracking technique is the baking...? ).

Expect to shoot hundreds of frames for each keeper.

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