Immature red kite

I visited Gigrin Farm last Sunday and have been busy editing all the images. This is when you find that your most used key on the keyboard is delete! The image above is of an immature kite at the feeding. It is a vertical crop of a horizontal original image. For those of you who have never been to Gigrin Farm in Rhayader, but are planning to go here are some photo tips:

  1. Lenses: most of my images are taken on a 300mm lens with my digital crop factor of 1.5x on my Nikon . I also use my 70 – 200mm zoom as well. I do also use a 500mm tripod mounted lens, but find it easier to use the shorter lenses handheld.
  2. Make sure your shutter speed does not drop below 1/1000th of a second. The birds move very fast and a faster shutter speed will ensure your images are sharp. I set shutter priority on my cameras and adjust the ISO rating to obtain an aperture of F5.6 to F8 if possible.
  3. Set your auto focus to continuous/servo (depends on camera manufacturer) and either select all focusing points or a group that you can control the position of. This will speed up your focus acquisition time. Sometimes the kites stall in the wind or glide into the wind and slow their flight speed down, at this point using a selected focus point if possible will ensure accurate focusing on the eyes of the birds.
  4. If you have two camera bodies, set them both up to allow a quick change of image perspective.
  5. At the start of the feeding, take your time. There are normally lots of the kites in the air and it is difficult to isolate single birds. Use this time to watch where the birds are flying in from and where they go to start their dive onto the food. You can also use this time to check your exposure histogram and practice your focusing.
  6. The birds come in waves and can be present for over two hours. Later on it is easier to get individual bird photographs and the light will have improved with the sun lower in the sky, so lighting up the underneath of the birds better.
  7. Unpack all your storage cards ready to load into the camera and take a back up device to load full cards onto or make sure you have plenty, and I mean plenty of cards to use. You will take more images than you expect.
  8. Use the photographic hides to get a better view of the feeding site and because their viewing area is wider it is easier to move with your cameras. You don’t always have to be in a hide, and successful photographs can be taken outside the hides on the path or from the viewing area in the field next to the feeding site.
  9. Expect loads of useless images, just press delete! Be really critical of your images and be ruthless. Check the focus on the eyes at 100% in your editing software.
  10. And lastly, enjoy yourself and if you can, stop taking photographs and watch the kites for a while.

Author Nick

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