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) 😉
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 🙂
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 🙂
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.
Like them all, but te 2nd one taking off is my favourite. Incidently some time ago I watched your you tube on textures with animals. I cannot find it. I wanted some of my camera club friends to see it. You actually did it for my camera club.
I love the first one as there is a bit a back light shining through the wings and it shows some beautiful feather detail. They are all good though, I would be happy if I had taken any of them. 😊
Great shots Matt, like the hummingbirds as we do not see them “down under”….. are you mostly on a tripod or hand held?
Colour toning also stands out…. Thanks for sharing your super info…. cheers
I love the pose of the third one!
I love the second shot. It is tack sharp yet you captured the action about to happen.
They are all great but I especially love the 4th one- blue white hummingbird. What a pretty bird. I’m sad that I missed it when we were there.
Your bird photo are amazing. I would love to make such beautiful photo but all have is a canon D6 and the 300mm. I still think it’s possible for good photos. However, I need help on that.
Hi Nedra – It’s not the camera or lens (for the most part – 400mm and beyond definitely helps). Maybe thinking about it like a landscape photo would help. You have to get yourself in to a great place to make a great photo. Everyone seems to know that for landscapes and takes workshops and travels around, etc… But with wildlife sometimes we seem to think there’s a way around great place = great photo. I realize it’s not always as easy as it sounds, but with some research and work you should be able to find some place near you that will let you get close enough. Often, with wildlife (and definitely birds), it requires a lot of time to just sit and wait for it to come to you. I don’t know of anyone who walks up to a location and amazing things immediately happen around them – most of the great photos I see come from patience so hopefully with some research for a location, and patience once you find that location you can start to make some nice photos. Each one of these photos in this blog post happened 1) Because I flew to a target rich place (Costa Rica) and 2) Because I waited for them to happen. Hope that helps 🙂
I also love the first hummingbird shot. So sharp and colorful. The last shot is a favorite too. I just received my 200-600mm lens today thanks to seeing all your great photos and how that lens can get you closer.
The phrase came from Bob & Doug McKenzie (I guess you have to be Canadian), and my favourite is the last one, although I like them all.
Love the shots and love the bob and doug mckenzie reference! Take Off with Geddy Lee!
Love them all but the first humming bird shot is my favorite. I love green and the detail in the photo at 1/1000 is pretty amazing.