Ever take photos that you didn’t even know you had until you got back to the computer? That’s what happened here. I was out shooting one morning and lately I’ve been using a shooting technique where I hand hold the camera really down low. Basically I’m kneeling on the ground, but actually holding the camera down almost on the ground itself (just above).
This technique does (and results in) a few things.
- I get a really low perspective. One that I would normally have to lay on the ground to get. But laying on the ground is restrictive since if something moves I have to get up to follow it.
- It really blurs the background nicely. So much so that I’ve had several people say that I must be faking the background blur in Photoshop.
- It keeps me off the sand so I don’t get… well… all sandy.
It’s a simple technique but I’ll probably do a video on it because I get a lot of questions about how I get such nice background blur. Plus, there’s a few caveats to it so it’s worth talking about.
Anyway, I was photographing an area where some Greater Yellowlegs were moving around quite a bit. So I’d follow a few and just take as many photos as possible. I can’t really see exactly what’s going on (although I do have the screen flipped out). So, many times I don’t actually know what photos I got until I get home since these moments happen so fast. But I really liked how whatever gooey thing it was eating was stuck in the ground until the bird pulled it out. (I’m good not really knowing the official name of the “gooey thing” by the way so please feel free not to share) 😉
Gear, Settings and Post Processing
I used my Sony Alpha 1 with the 200-600mm lens for this one. I had my camera set to AF-C. I was using Zone Auto Focus (center position) and the Bird Eye feature was engaged at the time.
I was on Manual Exposure mode at f/6.3, Auto ISO which was at 400, and 1/3200th sec.
Post processing was done in Lightroom for exposure, cropping, color and toning corrections and a quick trip to Topaz DeNoise AI for some noise reduction. (more on Topaz here)
As always my editing is covered in my Wildlife Editing Secrets Course. Also, you can find links to all of my gear, computers, hard drives, etc… over on the Gear page which can be clicked on in the top menu (or just click here). And it’s always appreciated if you use the links on that page (even if you’re not purchasing that specific item) when buying anything. It doesn’t cost you a penny and it’ll help me out a bit 🙂
And if you want to learn more about actually photographing the birds, check out “Matt’s Guide to Bird Photography”. People absolutely LOVE this course!
Thanks for this fine insight into making this picture.
I´d really love to learn more about your low-level technique (Got a hint about it from this article : https://alphauniverse.com/stories/whats-in-my-bag-a-less-is-more-kit-for-nature-wildlife-and-landscapes/) and wonder if you any videos/articles describing it into more detail.
Anyway, thanks a bunch for all your contributions from a happy follower
Hi Kurt. I can try to do a video on it but it wouldn’t be more than:
Step 1) Sit on a chair or something low to the ground
Step 2) Put your camera on the ground, flip out the screen so you can see what it’s pointing at, and press the shutter when something good happens.
I don’t have any extra steps in there. I literally put the camera on the ground or something hold it up a few inches from the ground. Hope that helps 🙂
I love all your photos the birds are wonderful. Such clarity and finesse!.
I finally picked up my Z Lens Nikkor 100-400 ƒ4.5, I will use my new extender so I’ll get almost 600. Can’t wait to go out and shoot wildlife with it..
I’ve never used such a high shutter, that must a clue to the clarity you achieve ! Yes I always crouch down for more interest.
Your course sounds curious!
I was at a beach shooting the exact same way you described except I have a Sony A7r3 with no bird eye feature. It was difficult getting a shot. Do you think having the Bird Eye feature would help significantly?
Hi Linda. At this distance bird eye AF wouldn’t really do anything. Your Sony AF should pick up the bird just fine and regardless of where it focussed everything would be sharp. Bird Eye AF really only comes in handy for perched birds, so you don’t have to focus and recompose. Hope that helps.
The “gooey things” are likely clams. Nice shot BTW. 🙂
Sweet! Great Image Matt K.
Nice composition. Lens distance was?I can see the mirrorless have better capture rates. As compared to my D750 using Tamron150-600 G2 which loses focus past 250 mm for distance shots. I suspect the lens needs an overhaul. Just hope my Z9 arrives. SURE.
Appreciate your courses I always learn something new and from a teacher’s point of view an excellent method of teaching.
Great Photo Matt!
And a less generic “marine worm” ID could substitute for the more generic “gooey thing” ID.
Like I said… I’m good not knowing the name 😉 Thanks!
Matt, what a great idea. I’ve been looking for things to help re-energize and certainly will try this one sometime in the near future!