Uncommon Moments with Common Birds

Photographing birds, just like other subject matter, can be a progressive experience. As we develop our skill set and understand the subject matter more… the quality of our images can improve over time. This article illustrates how we can capture some uncommon moments with common birds… in this case some gulls. All of the photographs in this article were captured on the same day in late May.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko 1.4X teleconverter @ 210 mm, efov 420 mm, f/5.6 1/1600, ISO-125

When we first start out photographing birds we typically begin with perched birds, then progress to birds-in-flight. One of our milestones is when we can consistently capture a bird-in-flight well positioned in our frame, and in good focus. Since this skill set takes some time to develop, going out regularly is important.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko 1.4X teleconverter @ 210 mm, efov 420 mm, f/5.6 1/1600, ISO-160

Rather than capture straight fly-by images we then begin to study our subjects more and look for interesting angles to capture in our photographs. For example, birds banking and showing their undersides.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko 1.4X teleconverter @ 210 mm, efov 420 mm, f/5.6 1/1600, ISO-200

As our panning skills and response times improve we can get in tighter to our subject birds. We start capturing birds-in-flight at more difficult shooting angles, such as them approaching us. This can add a bit more interest to our images.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko 1.4X teleconverter @ 210 mm, efov 420 mm, f/5.6 1/1600, ISO-125

As we continue to experiment with our birds-in-flight photography we may decide to get in very tight to subject birds. This may include purposely clipping their wings in our photographs to create a feeling of increased intimacy.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko 1.4X teleconverter @ 210 mm, efov 420 mm, f/5.6 1/1600, ISO-160

Looking for interesting light is important with any subject matter. Good light can accentuate the feather details and colouring on a bird. We begin to look for reflections and other lighting details that can add interest to our images.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko 1.4X teleconverter @ 210 mm, efov 420 mm, f/5.6 1/1600, ISO-160

Often the next step in our bird photography journey is to watch for precise moments. Rather than capture single frames we begin to experiment shooting with faster frame rates to increase our chances of getting precise moments captured in our photographs.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko 1.4X teleconverter @ 210 mm, efov 420 mm, f/5.6 1/1600, ISO-125

As our powers of observation increase, so too does our desire to create photographs of birds-in-flight that contain that elusive quality of emotion.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko 1.4X teleconverter @ 210 mm, efov 420 mm, f/5.6 1/1600, ISO-125

Uncommon moments with common birds happen all around us everyday. Our challenges are to keep moving our photographic skills forward, observing birds intently, and waiting for those uncommon moments to capture.

Technical Note:
All photographs in this article were captured using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. All of the photographs displayed in this article were produced from RAW files using my standard process.

Use of Olympus Loaner Equipment
All of the photographs in this article were captured using Olympus Loaner Gear which was supplied by Olympus Americas Inc. on a no-charge basis. We are under no obligation what-so-ever to Olympus Americas Inc. in terms of our use of this loaner Olympus camera equipment. There is no expectation or agreement of any kind with Olympus Americas Inc. that we will create and share with readers any images, articles or videos, or on what that content may be.

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4 thoughts on “Uncommon Moments with Common Birds”

  1. Tom,

    Beautiful beautiful beautiful!
    You’ve been given a privilege to see and capture these sequences and good thing your experience in capturing them as well as the capabilities of the camera on-hand (Oly EM1X) synergized perfectly — so much so that the captures seem almost painting-like. To think, you’re still limited by rather short zoom lens. I think gulls are underrated — they can be quite rowdy but looked at closer, they’re beautiful, dynamic birds.

    Oggie
    http://www.lagalog.com

    1. Thanks Oggie… I’m glad you enjoyed the images!

      I agree that gulls are underrated. When captured at the right moment their wing positions etc. can create beautiful images.

      Tom

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