Birds are creatures of habit, a lot of them like to repeat perches. What this means is that if you find a bird busy in an activity like a bee-eater trying to hunt or a flycatcher coming in for a dip in the water, chances are that they would repeatedly come back to the same perch.
Why is that of any importance to you?
While out in the wild, knowing your subject makes all the difference and knowing this habit can help you come back with some memorable images.
This is especially important for times when the auto-focussing isn’t working fast enough.
- Very low light – lack of contrast making the focussing go slow
- Equipment that does not have the best of focussing under such conditions (for e.g. the 80-400 VR or the 100-400 IS)
The way to go about clicking birds under such conditions is
- Choose a perch that you are going to click the bird on
- Keep your aperture value at around f/8 to give you some margin of error in terms of the focal plane
- Use the Back-Button Focussing (AF-ON) and focus on the perch (before the bird comes in)
- Don’t touch the focussing button now unless you want to focus on a different plane
- When the subject lands on the perch, click using the high-burst mode.
I have seen people keep the camera on a tripod with this approach and not even look into the camera while clicking. This way they will be using their hand-eye co-ordination better to get the clicks going at the precise moment.
All the images in this blog post are on-field examples where I pre-focussed on the perch and waited for the birds to come in.