I can’t tell you how many hundreds of hours and thousands of deleted images I’ve spent practicing photographing birds in flight or BIFs as bird photographers would say. Needless to say it’s a lot, but in my humble opinion a great BIF is the ultimate in bird photography. Here are a few secrets! Shhhh… don’t tell!
Your gear is important, you need to be able to shoot in bursts and shoot a lot of them. You need a lot of shutter speed (1/1200 or so) in order to freeze a fast flying bird. This means that you need a combination of fast lenses, ISO and light that will make that work for you. You need to be able to move with the action so this likely means some sort of gimbal (eg Wimberley) mount for your long glass.
Once you have capable gear then it’s time to find the birds! One of the best places to practice and to get some great shots as well is a Raptor Free Flight Demonstration by a falconry group or a zoo. They have great animals and the situation is controlled so you know exactly where the birds will fly and you can setup to get the shots.
One of my favorite places is the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum near Tucson and their raptor flight demonstrations. They really work their birds for the crowds and you are really really close. In this location a 300mm and hand holding is the best option as it can get very crowded…
Here are a few images from my last trip to the wonderful Arizona Sonora Desert Museum.
You can see all of my bird photography that includes all sorts of birds in flight…HERE.
I am leading a bird photography workshop to South Texas this spring and we’ll have great opportunities to photograph birds in flight including some raptors…with a little luck! You can read about that workshop…HERE.