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on Feb 12, 2018 in Wildlife Photography

Elegance of Flight

FL Red-shouldred Hawk
captured by D5 / 800mm

The magic of flight that birds appear to do so effortlessly is a photographic storytelling challenge. That’s because as we watch it in real time, the mind fills in lots of gaps so all that registers is that magic. But when you take just one moment from that flight, that single moment in flight might not translate that magic that we’re after. How do you bring home that elegance of flight in your photo to share with others? As you watch them ring up, raptors make circles and in that circle there is a photograph and only one moment. In that moment is the elegance but how do you capture that?

It all starts really with the gear you’re shooting with, in this example, I used the captured by D5 / 800mm but an easier set up for most would have be something handheld like the 300PF on the D5. The gear gives you not only the image size but ability to isolate the flight from the background. There is a general rule in bird flight photography, don’t photograph them with a gray background. The 800mm permitted me to grab the small slice of blue in the gray. Then in watching the Red-shoulder circle, I watched and shot ONLY when it was coming into the light AND it was looking around and not just straight down (other photo shows when not to click). In the lower photo you can see where even though the hawk is lit, the feeling of the magic of flight doesn’t come through. It’s a challenge to get the shot but just keep in the back of your mind, you want to say in your photograph the elegance of flight!

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