I am a paparazzo. Positioning myself in the optimum position to capture the subject while trying to remain hidden so as not to spook it. There have been rumors of sightings. I have actually seen them here before, in this exact location, but this time they are proving to be elusive. I lay on the ground as flat as possible behind a large bush, checking the camera settings; at the ready, finger on the shutter. . . there he is! Snap!
It’s a goldfinch! Joining another one for breakfast.
Not unlike celebrities going about their daily lives, birds are difficult subjects – camera shy, flighty, never staying too long in the same spot – downright evasive.
Sometimes you get lucky and are able to catch them at rest.
Giving you more time for focusing and composing the shot.
More often than not though, you will be trying to capture a moving object . . .
When trying to get that shot, and focus on the avian subject, you have choices. You can use auto-focus or manual focus. When choosing, auto-focus there are options within that choice – the options I describe pertain to Canon cameras, so if you have another type you will have to refer to your user’s manual for the exact terms for your camera. The auto-focus options are: One Shot mode – which is used for still subjects, AI Servo – for moving subjects ( if the subject is moving and the focusing distance keeps changing the camera tracks the subject) or AI Focus – for switching between the two ( if the subject is still and then moves it will switch to the AI Servo mode from the one shot mode). The auto-focus mode can be nice for capturing active subjects out in the open.Take your camera to a location where you know those celebrities congregate out in the open; perhaps near your local watering hole.
Start in either the AI Servo or AI Focus modes and shoot away.
Often, our feathered friends choose to hang out in trees or on bushes with a lot of branches. This can create a problem with auto-focus because if the bird takes flight the camera will sometimes try to focus on the branches. The other option is manual focus discussed last week. If having trouble in auto-focus mode switch to manual focus and see which setting works best for you in your situation.
Sometimes those avians can be very accommodating. . . “I’m ready for my close-up!”
Keeping both eyes focused in the trees.
When using auto-focus there are options as to how the camera handles the focusing of a subject. If your subject is still use One Shot mode, if your subject is moving use AI Servo mode and if your subject will be still at times and then move choose AI Focus mode.
Use auto-focus in each of the three different settings and conditions this week and see how your camera responds. Birds make excellent action subjects but choose whatever you like.
Become a bird paparazzo capturing your subjects by being as unobtrusive as possible so you can catch them acting naturally, or catch them before they fly away!