As the crow flies

I admit it: I toyed with the idea of calling this “Poultry in motion.”

Depicting motion in a still photograph is neither easy nor intuitive. If all you want is a still shot of a bird hovering in the sky, no problem: all you need is a fast shutter speed, the right exposure, and a little bit of luck (required whenever your subject has a mind and itinerary of its own).

For this shot, though, I wanted to play with the concept of motion.  To do that, I had to use a slow enough shutter speed that the background would be blurred out just a bit — but not so much that it was entirely featureless.  Then the trick was to move the camera at the same speed the crow was flying.  If I had been a bit slower or faster, the whole thing would have been a blurry mess.  And of course, the crow had no plans to make repeated passes across the beach for my benefit, in case the first shot didn’t turn out.

Last year I took a photography class at Castle Hill in Truro from my friend and mentor, Jennifer Moller.  (You can also find a link to Jenn’s blog, “Unbidden,” in the links to the right.)  One of my classmates was a gentleman in his 60s who grew up in Texas, where bird-hunting was what you did for sport.  These days, Robert shoots birds with a 400mm lens on his 21-megapixel digital camera, and gets some of the most amazing shots you’ll ever see.  To Robert, thanks for your insights on how to follow a bird in flight.  And to Jenn, thanks as always for your ongoing encouragement and instruction.



~ by Shelly F. Cohen on 30 August 2009.

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