BIF – birds in flight

There seem to be some themes emerging from all the shots I’ve taken of birds flying lately, namely an appreciation of the sleek aerodynamic shape they present in flight vs the somewhat awkward body posture when they try to land, especially on a slick surface.

Doesn't this just beg for a 10 for form?  Look how nicely those legs are tucked away.  And here the male can show off his beautiful dark blue secondary flight feathers.

Doesn’t this just beg for a 10 for form? Look how nicely those legs are tucked away. And here the male can show off his beautiful dark blue secondary flight feathers.

How about this one for straight body line and pointed toes -- another 10?

How about this one for straight body line and pointed toes — another 10?

A mallard hen is equally adept at the fast forward flight angle.

A mallard hen with equally great form in the fast forward flight mode.

But then there is the landing problem — putting the brakes on the fast forward.

Flaps down, increase the drag...careful not to overshoot the target.

Flaps down, vertical body increases the drag…careful not to overshoot the target.

Now, extend the feet while back pedaling with those wings...and drop to the water.

Now, extend the feet while back pedaling with those wings…and drop to the water.

Oops, went too far.  Sorry, girls.

Oops, went too far. Sorry, girls, my bad.

But the hen isn't much better at it.  She is bound to crash right into those two drakes having a face-off.

But the hen isn’t much better at it. She is bound to crash right into those two drakes having a face-off.  But this pose shows off her pretty feathers better.

Photographing birds in flight is tricky, adjusting the exposure as they fly over light or dark surfaces, quickly changing their elevation, flapping vigorously, etc.  These were a few of my more successful experiments in capturing BIF.

10 thoughts on “BIF – birds in flight

    • Not to complain or anything but I was actually too close to these birds to get a really good bead (focus) on them as they flew by me. I can’t track and focus fast enough. The light was sort of OK, allowing me to shoot at 1/750-1/1000 of a sec.

  1. Wonderful shots, Sue. I am glad to see that you too are enjoying the challenge of trying to capture moving birds. For me, the trickiest part is acquiring focus and holding it while tracking the bird–the world seems a whole lot smaller when my telephoto lens is extended at full range.

    I especially liked the third shot and laughed at the final couple of photos and their captions.

    • I am really not good at capturing flight, unless I am further away from my subject. These birds were moving much too fast by me, and were in and out of focus in an instant. I also found that I am really lousy at higher telephoto ranges, so I stick to 150-200 mm shots so I can at least find the birds as they zoom by.

      Really, they have no style in landing, all the finesse and grace is gone, and they just plop out of the air onto the water and whatever else might be in their path. Kings of funny, actually.

    • Thanks, this certainly was a fun experiment, and I have gotten to know the idiosyncrasies of mallard behavior a little better as a result of watching them.

  2. Pingback: More BIF | Back Yard Biology

    • Both. I did purchase the Canon 400 mm lens, which I love because it is very sharp, but I get the best results shooting birds in the tree right outside my porch windows (which unfortunately adds some glare). However, the BIF in the post were taken outdoors and I was almost too close to them because they moved very fast across my field of view.

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