Making photographs, not just taking them – Dundee, Tayside, Scotland

Falconry

Earlier this year I kindly bought my wife a falconry experience which we got round to booking and going along to recently, so off to the Scottish Deer Centre we went.  It was always my intention to come along and use it as an opportunity to play with the camera and try my hand at some wildlife photography, something a little different to the usual sheep, cows, rabbits etc that live near my home.

Knowing that it may not be easy trying to capture birds of prey in flight etc I made the decision to take the camera out of full manual mode (something I haven’t done so far this year), that way I didn’t need to keep adjusting the shutter speed and aperture constantly in order to keep a correct exposure.  Instead I put it into Shutter Priority mode so that I could select a fast enough shutter speed and let the camera do the rest to get a correct exposure.  I was taking a chance by doing this as my lenses are not the fastest, i.e. maximum aperture of F/3.5 at the widest angle on my 18-55mm lens but considering I would be using a tighter angle the aperture would be much slower.

Despite this I still struggled at first to capture the Harris Hawk that we took out for a walk, I was clearly not ready for the sheer speed this bird moves around at – it rarely stayed on the same post for more than a few seconds and it was a fast flyer.  Here’s some examples of how badly I was doing until I got my eye in:

However, after swapping to my 50-250mm lens (in order to get close up without having to try run to get to where it landed next) I started getting better results:

We then headed back to see the rest of the birds out on the lawn, these were much easier to capture given the fact they couldn’t fly away:

Lastly my wife got to take out a couple of owls to fly, first the little Barn Owl:

followed by the massive Eagle Owl, the wing span of this bird really surprised me along with how fast and the angle it flies to pounce on its prey:

After flying the birds we had a walk around the rest of the deer centre to see what else was in the park:

By the end of the session I realised that faster glass at a decent range (my 50-250mm lens on a crop sensor was ok but really something more in the region of 300mm on a crop sensor would work better) would help in these situations but all in all I am happy to have captured a few shots that I am proud of.  Although most of the better ones are where the subject is stationary.

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