Jennifer Marano  

 Fight in Flight by Jennifer Marano

June 2022 - Fight in Flight

About the Image(s)

I just got back from an eagle workshop and I found if very difficult, but so exciting! I wanted to catch a fight in flight, and this is the best I managed.

Info: This was taken at an eagle workshop near Seattle, WA. Eagles move FAST and it was very challenging, but I was pleased to get anything at all! I used my Sony Alpha 1 with a rented 200-600 lens and a 1.4x teleconverter. Even with that, I had to crop extensively and use a bunch of Topaz AI to get half way presentable.

F/9.8, 622mm, 1/3200sec, ISO-6400

10 comments posted

Chan Garrett   Chan Garrett
I have to beleive that in order to capture that great photo of birds in flight, the photographer must shoot in rapid bursts of 20-30 frames at a time. That being said, you have done a fine job of separating your subjects from the background. The action is well captured. But, birds seem to not want to take poseing directions and the lower bird is in a position that make it hard for the viewer to understand.
I wonder, would it be interesting to slow the shutter speed just enough to capture a small amount of motion blur to show the speed of the birds? This question comes from one (me) who has no experiance in photographing birds in flight.   Posted: 06/04/2022 15:03:45
Jennifer Marano   Jennifer Marano
Hi Chan,

Yes, it is necessary to shoot in rapid bursts - things happen so quickly! At some point I may try a slower shutter speed, but at first I would like to actually capture sharp images. My greatest difficulty was getting the camera to focus on the birds - they were so small in my frame that even the eye focus function had difficulty. whatever part of the bird I caught seemed to lock the focus. And the birds just wouldn't listen to directions! I ended up with 14 semi-useable shots out of 2000+   Posted: 06/07/2022 09:30:24

Steven Jungerwirth   Steven Jungerwirth
Why is photographing birds in flight so difficult and highly addictive?

Great action shot. I like the way you captured the action; esp the upper eagle clearly poised for battle. Unfortunately the lower bird is so contorted - that I had to stare at the image to understand its position. Background is nicely blurred (even at f 9.8). Few suggestions:
1) Were you shooting at high speed continuous? That's the setting that will give you the best chance of a "keeper" (and even then the yield is VERY low).
2) Was your camera using face/eye detect autofocus? Perhaps the birds were so small in the frame that the system had trouble. The 622mm focal length is with the 1.4 teleconverter. One suggestion might be to shoot without it; your lens went to 600mm without a teleconverter; the teleconverter impairs autofocus speed/quality and overall sharpness. I realize you may have expected action much further out.
3) Regarding Chan's last comment - I think it's important to have the face/eye in sharp focus. Some blur in wings would be OK to convey motion. The shutter speed you used (or faster) is appropriate for fast moving eagles/long lens.

Kudos to you for getting out an photographing these amazing raptors! It is addictive.
  Posted: 06/05/2022 11:21:19
Jennifer Marano   Jennifer Marano
Hi Steven,

Thanks for your comments and tips! I was shooting continuous and using face/eye detection, but I think the birds were so small in the frame, and my hand was so unsteady, that the camera could not function properly. I did eventually give up on the teleconverter, which helped a bit. I had better luck when the birds were just flying, rather than fighting, but still not great. I'll include one of those!   Posted: 06/07/2022 10:41:24
Comment Image

Will Korn   Will Korn
Your image is fun and interesting. It's like a bird ballet. I agree teleconverters stink. I literally sold mine so that I would stop being tempted to use it and get soft focus every time. Really. I did that.   Posted: 06/07/2022 12:02:10
Jennifer Marano   Jennifer Marano
Thanks, Will!   Posted: 06/07/2022 12:17:05
Steven Jungerwirth   Steven Jungerwirth
My outcome was similar; although more economical. I rented a teleconverter for a weekend. Shot birds with/without. Returned it and haven't looked back. There is no free lunch.   Posted: 06/08/2022 10:41:13

Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
Jennifer I am really impressed with your crop of photos from the workshop! I for one rarely shoot wildlife, but gee, this must have been hard!

However, I tend to position myself much loser to these types of subjects and from advice of other photographers never use a 'converter'. I use Prime 100mm, and 100-400mm; all my shots are Manual Focus, though I plan trying auto focus in the near future. : )   Posted: 06/21/2022 06:31:10
Jennifer Marano   Jennifer Marano
Manual focus is great if something is standing still, but flying birds are a bit tricky! If you can focus on something near where they are flying, it might work. Or if many birds fly by along the same flight path, you can get a workable focus. Some cameras let you use autofocus to get an approximation and then you can fine tune with manual. Lots of workarounds and things to experiment with. Always something new to learn!   Posted: 06/21/2022 08:03:08
Lance Lewin   Lance Lewin
A very arduous process, indeed!   Posted: 06/21/2022 08:26:37


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