Place: Southwest Park, Webster Groves, Missouri
Date: February 7, 2017
It maybe a disservice to actual BIF photographers to call myself that but I did manage to get a few shots of a bird in flight recently. Maybe I’m more of a “one BIF wonder”. I didn’t set out to get shots of a bird in flight, it was purely a lucky accident.
My wife and I had taken our youngest grandson to Southwest Park, a small park a few block from our house. We wanted to give him his first try on a swing. I had grabbed my camera even though it still had the 80-400mm telephoto zoom attached. Didn’t want to take time to switch out lenses and better that than nothing. Using the 80mm setting, and stepping back a bit, I managed to get some decent close up shots of the little guy on the swings. Using that lens for this situation is similar to using a chain saw to trim your rose bushes. It can be done but you’ve got a lot more tool than you need
As we were leaving the park I told my wife to go ahead with the stroller down the drive to the at the sidewalk at the street. I was going to cut across the field to my side. I had heard some very deep, loud bird calls that I guessed were coming from a large crow. I figured I had the perfect lens for it and headed toward the narrow tree line that separated the south side of the park from all the houses. I was hoping the crow wouldn’t be too high and would be out on the edge if the branches with mostly sky for a background. If he was too far in the tree he would be lost in the background of all the dark branches.
Turns out I didn’t have to worry about either scenario. I was only half way across the field and as I looked up toward the top of the tree line and saw a huge crow take off from the top of a large oak tree about 50 yards in front of me and head off to my right. He was out of camera range before I could even raise the camera. Oh well, another day maybe and at least I was going home with some nice close ups of the baby.
I turned toward the sidewalk and started walking to catch up with my wife. AS I walked I noticed that about 75 yards in front of me was one of the larger oaks with a hawk perched about half way up the crown.
I stopped and started taking pictures. This is one of the first two pictures I took. I was surprised he looked so far away, even with this lens, and decide to ignore the hawk and walk away when I a thought occurred to me. I did a check and sure enough I was still zoomed in to 80mm. I immediately zoomed out to 400mm.
This and the rest of the photos were taken at 400mm and cropped in processing. Do you think he sees me?
When a bird shifts his weight forward it’s not to a closer look; he’s ready to take off.
And he took off. Fortunately he took off while I still had the camera up and pointed at him. With that heavy lens I don’t usually keep it pointed up too long.
After take off he flew out of frame and I lost him for a second but then found him as he started to head straight up, in front of me and over my head.
I lost him again but caught up with him as he took to the tree line that the crow had followed just a few minutes earlier. These two shots don’t have the sharpness of the prior shots. I don’t know if that’s because of shutter speed (1/800) or because I keep my camera set up with single, center spot focus, and tried to pan and follow him with just than one focus point.
Thank you for stopping by and viewing my first, and probably last, BIF experience.