My last day in Costa Rica was a non-workshop day, but I went out with a few people to just shoot and I realized I have a problem. I’m addicted to take off shots… Hence the name of this post (special pat-on-the-back prize to who knows where the phrase came from) πŸ˜‰

Anyway, we hopped in a car and drove through some bumpy dirt roads to see what we could find. As I mentioned in the last post, this was the most abundant wildlife trip I have taken in Costa Rica yet. It was hard not to find amazing birds and monkeys jumping around trees no matter where you were.

On this morning, we found some cara Caracara’s that frequent this area. There’s a bunch of barbed wire fences lining the road for miles and the birds jump from fence to tree, and on to cows, and back all the time. Having had enough “perched” photos of them, I started working on some “Take Off” shots. Over time, those have become some of my favorite.

See, birds in flight are great and if they’re doing something interesting while in flight, even better. But after a while, the in flight shots get a little boring and repetitive (if they’re not doing anything interesting). I don’t want to diminish the process and feeling of accomplishment, but once you figure out your auto focus settings in your camera, and if you have a camera that lends itself to great auto focus tracking, an in flight shot no longer becomes challenging. Point your camera up, click and you’ll get it. Again, it’s just a matter of photographing them and hoping something interesting happens – which 90% of the time it doesn’t and I end up deleting all of them.

But the take off shots, always look a little different to me. For starters, you never really know when they’re going to take off. So there’s a challenge there and that always lures me in πŸ™‚

Sure, some birds poop right before they take off, or stretch a wing or something like that. But many times, you just don’t know. And I can’t tell you how many times, I sat there for 15-20 minutes waiting – then nudged or changed a small camera setting, or adjusted where I was sitting, or scratched an itch, and that was the exact moment they took off. It happens more times than I care to admit.

Also, the take off shots always look a little different. Depending on the wind, direction, bird, etc… it’s just always fun to look through and see the action you get in those photos.

Camera and Settings

All photos were taken with my Sony Alpha 1 and usually the 200-600 lens (I think a couple were with the 600mm). Settings are listed and all photos were imported and edited in Lightroom, with Noise Reduction in Topaz DeNoise. The third photo down was also sharpened in Topaz Sharpen AI as I wasn’t totally ready for the shot and there was a bit of blur.

As always 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 πŸ™‚

f/6.3 | 1/1000th | ISO 4000
f/4 | 1/2500th | ISO 3200
f/6.3 | 1/2500th | ISO 6400
f/6.3 | 1/2000th | ISO 5000
f/4 | 1/2500th | ISO 3200

What’s Your Favorite?

As you’ve scrolled through this post, you’ve seen a few take off photos from that day. Which one do you like the best and why? Also, any wing clipping is 100% intentional in my crop. I don’t personally believe that you have to show the whole bird, and I clip wings often when cropping to get closer to the action and face of the bird.


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