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    How to photograph flocks of birds: 5 ideas for creative images

    | Photography Tips | Wildlife | 12/05/2014 00:01am
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    You don’t need a ridiculously long lens to get beautiful pictures of birds. Wildlife photography expert Mark Hamblin explains how to photograph flocks of birds in five ridiculously creative ways.

    How to photograph flocks of birds: 5 ideas for creative images

    All text and images by Mark Hamblin

    How to photograph flocks of birds: Shoot a Silhouette

    Birds often gather together at dawn and dusk, which is the ideal time for creating colourful silhouettes

    How to photograph flocks of birds: 5 ideas for creative images

    Rooks at Sunrise. Taken with: Canon 1D Mark II with 300mm f/4. Exposure: 1/500 sec at f/8, ISO200

    How I got the shot
    Having previously seen flocks of rooks gathered together on electricity pylons, I set out to try to capture a shot that put them in context with this man-made structure.

    For the shot to work I needed an interesting sky, so I chose to shoot at sunrise to give myself the best chance of getting what I wanted.

    To avoid disturbing the birds I used my car as a ‘mobile hide’, which I carefully positioned so that the birds were lined up with the most colourful part of the sky behind them.

    To create a simple graphic image, I decided to throw the birds and the pylon into silhouette against a well-saturated orange sky.

    SEE MORE: 10 common wildlife photography mistakes (and how to avoid them)

    Key camera settings
    I first selected the centre AF point in Single Shot focusing mode, and set an aperture of f/8 in Aperture Priority mode (Av) to ensure all of the birds would be in focus, from front to back.

    I then selected Spot metering, and positioned the centre AF point over the brightest part of the sky, before half-pressing the shutter release to focus, and take an exposure reading.

    SEE MORE: When to use spot metering

    This gave me shutter speed of 1/500 sec. I then locked the exposure using the AE lock (*) button.

    Exposing for a bright part of the sky ensured the sky was well exposed and nicely saturated, while that the birds and pylons were under-exposed (and therefore thrown into silhouette).

    Field notes
    Rooks gather in large numbers at winter roost sites, and will often perch on nearby telegraph wires and pylons after leaving their roost sites early in the morning.

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    Posted on Monday, May 12th, 2014 at 12:01 am under Photography Tips, Wildlife.

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