So how does one go about planning to shoot birds in flight? There are times when you actually might want to turn the dial to ‘Manual Exposure’ for this one.
Getting a Bird in Flight in itself is such a challenge to start with, and here I am telling you about one step further, going to manual exposure mode while doing that. Am I mad? Why cant the Shutter Priority or Aperture Priority do the job?
If you read on for a tad bit longer, it will become quite obvious.
So here is the situation that you find yourself in
- Bird coming in to land in the water (in a pond) with the sun behind you
- The pond is surrounded by trees.
- You start tracking the bird when it is still high up in the sky.
Now, assume that when the sky was the background, following is the exposure value under Aperture Priority
– Aperture : f/6.3
– Shutter : 1/4000
Slowly and steadily the bird starts coming down to land and at some point before landing, the background changes to dark green trees surrounding the pond
What do you think will happen to the exposure?
You guessed it right, the value will change because now the background has changed. Brilliant!!
But wait a minute…is it supposed to change?
Has the light on the subject changed?
Wow!!, no wonder then that when you use Aperture/Shutter priority for such a case you would end up messing up the exposure. In the example below and above, it would end up overexposing the bird.
Now, there are a couple of options that you can go for in this case
1. Use Exposure Lock (Canon – * button / Nikon AE-L button) when the bird was in the sky and lock your metering to that reading.
2. Once you have an idea of the exposure against the sky, just switch to Manual mode with those settings. This ensures that the camera does not apply its own intelligence and change the settings later. Please note, that if it is a planned shoot this can be accomplished quite easily. This is not the best route for a bird suddenly surprising you by coming in to your view.
Now that we have birds in flight under control, think how will you click anything with a continuous changing background?
The same principle applies to anything that has a changing background. For e.g. if you have a subject against the waves this approach works very well. Take a look at the following images
More often than not, good images are a byproduct of a lot of good planning and decent technical skills. Be prepared for what you want to shoot and you will come back with lovely images more often than not.
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