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Tips on Photographing Birds In Flight and Bugs Hanging Out
By Steve Cirone


O
n my image above, and on all my bird action images, I use Manual Exposure Mode, F 5.6, 400 ISO, 1/1600th sec. as a starter. Check your camera’s LCD and adjust the shutter only to get desired exposure. Point your shadow at, but not on the subject. No flash. Auto Focus, AI Servo/ Continuous, center point only, high speed drive/ frame advance. Focus limiter on far only if your lens has one. The above shot I took with a Canon 400mm f 5.6 lens ($1300), and a Canon Mark IV, but a used $800 Canon 1D Mark 2 will do nearly as well.


For photographing micro subjects like my above dragonfly, I use Manual Exposure Mode, F 11, 200 ISO, 1/200th sec. as a starter. Use FLASH!! Check your camera’s LCD and adjust the f stop only to set your background brightness, and adjust your flash intensity only to dial in your subject brightness. Manual Focus (auto if you can get away with it), single focus (not servo/ continuous), center point only, one at a time frame advance. Count to 3 in between each shot to give your batteries time to recycle.

Typical micro gear is a bit more complicated than gear for birds in sun.

Canon 100mm IS, 180mm micro lens, Canon ring light/ flash or twin light/ flash, monopod (Manfrotto 685 B is trick) Neotec Monopod with Safety Lock, 234 manfrotto tilt head.

Nikon 105 or 200mm micro lens, Nikon R1C1 flash. You can get away with only one R1 head if on a budget, and you can also delete the Nikon C1 commander, but output adjustment is more tricky.

Lakesides are good spots for dragonflies in hot mid day weather in the summer.


Skipper moths are in every garden in San Diego in the spring and summer, as are a million other interesting bugs like the one below I got in Balboa Park.



Happy Image Making!

Cheers,
Steve Cirone