Capturing motion

Creative Photography with a seasoning of Mindfulness.

Capturing motion

Objects on the move


As always, I don’t intend on showing you how to change your settings, every brand of camera does it differently. 🤔
I’ll be talking about birds, geese to be exact, however this is good for bees, butterflies planes, helicopters, drones…
It’s also good for Fast cars, motorcycles, a group of gnus…
I think you understand.

First – Focus points

You may already be using the 9 focus points for all your images.
If you are like me, your camera is setup to only use the middle weighted – the point in the middle.
I usually use this because of my preference for AV mode, I want to focus on a pinpoint and have the rest blurry.
For capturing birds in flight, you need to use all 9 points.
It’s important to catch a wing, tail or head of one of the birds every time the lens focuses again.

Another thing to consider is using the sky as the background if possible. Trees, mountains, buildings or a herd of gnus in the background will cause your auto focus to catch the background and focus on that.

Second – Shooting mode or Picture series

You usually take one picture at a time, this is called one-shot.
Anytime you want to be sure of getting at least one good image, you can switch to picture series mode.

One-shot means you depress the shutter release and the camera takes a picture. This is the mode we all know.
Picture series or multi-mode means you depress the shutter and the camera makes as many pictures as it can. This may even be called Bulb for your brand of camera.
Usually you get 5 – 9 pictures, depending on your camera and the speed of your memory card.
If you are lucky, you can do this twice as the birds fly by, gathering enough images to choose from at home.
Chances are more than one will be good enough to keep. 👍

Third – Auto-focus modes

My Canon has 3 settings for auto-focus, one-shot, AI Focus and AI Servo.
Normally – capturing one image – you will use one shot AF.
Since you are going to be capturing motion with multiple images, you want your lens to continuously focus anew.
You can achieve this with AI Servo.

Another use for Servo AF is when you expect someone to walk towards you.
For example you know your true love will come out a certain door and you want the focus to follow her / him as they walk towards you.
Yet another use is for making videos, this way you keep the focus on the object you choose. We will discuss creating videos at another time.

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The technique

Changing all the settings above should be practiced ahead of time.
Even though you don’t need it to photograph a castle, you need to take the time to learn exactly what buttons to push in what order.
Believe me, when you notice swallows or geese coming in your direction there is no time to learn. Reading the handbook at that time is not an option.

So every time you learn something new about your camera, make it a point to practice relentlessly when you don’t need it. That way, it becomes second nature to you when opportunity arises.

Here they come

You hear the geese before you see them.
They are left of you at about 90 yards and the trajectory of flight should bring them right in front of you.
You remain calm and change the 3 settings above.
You switch to TV mode and set your shutter speed fast, say 1/500 or faster. (this depends on the available light as you know) The faster your shutter speed, the easier it is to hand-hold and stay sharp.

20 yards out. You begin. A first burst of images. Quick check the monitor. Exposure is OK.
Focus again, now you depress and hold the shutter release until you notice the camera has stopped taking pictures.
You keep your eye glued to the viewfinder and watch the auto-focus do its thing.
When you have learned this technique, you will learn to take short bursts of images, re-framing (zooming) to correct the composition as you go.

Geese riding the airwaves

You know what I say now

First and foremost, find out how to change the settings you need and practice going through the motions at home.
Now go on outside. You don’t necessarily need identified flying objects to try out the technique above.
Practice when you have down time, perhaps sitting on a bench during a long hike.
You can look at a landscape and imagine.
Change the 3 settings and pretend birds are flying by. Focus on the trees and fire away.
Notice how many pictures your camera takes before stopping to write to the memory card.

Creative digital photography is wonderful because the images are free. (basically)

If you capture a fast mover let us see it!
If you have any questions, fire away!


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