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Thanks for the post Mark, I'm sure a lot of people will get some valuable tips out of this.
I'll add a few thoughts and things I do differently, they are meant to add to the discussion not to say that one method is right or wrong.
I too shoot manual exposure, I do that for everything not just bif. When I get out of the car I look at the light and set the exposure, take a test shot of something neutral and check the lcd. That way if something surprises me along the way I'll have the correct setting already. I also constantly check the lcd while shooting, if conditions are even the slightest bit variable I check after each burst or so. I find the adjustments to make with flyers isn't any different than for static subjects, you just need to know how to use the dials by touch. One thing I have picked up over the years is how to adjust to what color bird is flying by or if the light is constantly changing due to partial clouds and such. In this case I'll change the ISO because it's quick and easy to do. If the sun is out or white birds, ISO 400, dark birds or clouds ISO 800, that sort of thing. That way I can control the dof and whatever wing blur I'm happy with at the time with the shutter and aperture and just spin dials for light. Or if Ma nature throws a real curve I'll also spin the shutter along with adjusting the ISO if something surprises me or I get a white bird in the sun followed by a cloud and a dark bird.
Getting lined up with the light is extremely important. Some call this luck but you can make your luck. Watch the patterns of the flyers and get yourself in the correct position. Of course sometimes you cannot do that but we are talking about striving for ideals. Birds will follow patterns in their flight to take into effect the wind and other parameters, take advantage of that and work it.
I shoot bif with whatever lens I'm carrying, I really don't have a preference. They all have advantages and disadvantages. The main difference in using different lenses is the shutter speeds you need to use. Still I rarely go over 1/2000 with any lens. Sure sometimes I will but there rarely is a need to even at 800mm. I usually shoot at 800, that's my go to lens, so I try to start at 1/1000 with that but I will go lower on bigger slower birds such as gulls, eagles, cormies.
Another thing learned over time is to use burst liberally but also knowing when not to use it. If you don't use restraint you'll end up filling up cards with crap like clipped wings, birds flying away, shots without focus locked on. That's all fine if you like to spend time deleting but most of us have better things to do
For AF I use the factory settings for the most part on both my 1d mk4 and 1dx. I use center point and minimum helpers. My technique requires you stay on the subject but it does reward you with super sharp shots and minimal loss of focus. Of course if you go off of the bird you will need to get right back on it.
Most of all these things just take practice. I practice often, especially if I'm out mid day and the light is difficult. That's a good time to sharpen your skills tracking IFs.
On of the more difficult things with IFs is keeping your backgrounds good. It you are careful about that before you start shooting it will be to your benefit. I'll also try to stop firing once the subject moves passed the good background.
I forgot where else I was going with this I may come back later and add to it
Great post Mark, well done
Edited on Feb 20, 2014 at 08:11 PM · View previous versions