Sometimes you experience an event year after year and marvel at the spender of it. This is how I feel about the sight of Canada Geese flying past fall colored trees. For years I had visualized an image made of these large black and white birds against blurred yellow, orange and red leaves. By panning the camera on a tripod during the flight and in the direction of the path the geese took, I knew I could make such an image. It requires a slower than typical shutter speed and some very smooth action on my part to keep the birds in relatively the same space in the picture frame.

It is a bit tricky really, too slow a shutter will blur the vertical wing beat into oblivion. Not slow enough a shutter will make it appear as if the birds stopped flying in mid air.  Success also requires that I make the image as parallel to the birds as possible to maximize the background blur. I found a location within an area I frequent where I could make several attempts with small groups of birds as they left for their morning excursions. This type of image doesn’t work on a sunny day, too much contrast with highlights and shadows creating strange geometries.

It is also best done I think with longer lenses in order to narrow depth of field and really isolate the birds. This does necessitate the birds being in the same plane of focus. however, so stopping the lens aperture down a stop or two can be helpful. I used a Canon camera with Canon EF 500mm f4.0 and Canon TC1.4.

(c) Paul Grecian
(c) Paul Grecian



5 thoughts on “Fall Flight

  1. I can really appreciate all the factors you describe here Paul. Not many people realize all of the considerations. Each one contributes to what separates a good shot from a wow shot, and that is what you achieved here. Kudos!

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