Flight Portraits

2012 Ron Day

Great Egret Portrait in Flight


When photographing birds in flight, I typically use a long focal length to get close to my subjects.  On occasion, however, they approach too close, and I find myself with too much lens for the image I'm considering.  

Recently, on these close encounters I've begun going for the shot.  Actually, I should say I've begun going for 'a' shot, because trying to focus a 500mm telephoto lens (oftentimes with tele-converters) on a bird in flight at close range is exasperating, often resulting in no image at all.  


Sandhill Crane Portrait in Flight


When I do "lock on" at close range, however, I'm often pleased with the results:  a striking head portrait of a bird on the wing.  It's not your everyday bird photograph.  But, that's what I find attractive.  

With the advent of digital photography, the market has become flooded with high quality bird and wildlife images.  If you have a great image of a Sandhill Crane landing in sweet light at Bosqe del Apache, for example, I can assure you that there are other top photographers with images just as good or better.  


American White Pelican Portrait in Flight


Today, if you want your images to stand out from the rest, they must be different and original.  One way to accomplish this is to show your subject in a way it is not usually seen.  So, for me, shooting flight portraits is an "out of the box" approach to acquiring unique, fresh images of birds in flight.