View Full Version : Bird photography in NZ & Australian bush.

Ian McHenry
09-01-2009, 04:35 PM
On a recent trip to Wellington I had the brief opportunity of getting images of 2 differently coloured and beautiful NZ Robins but due to the slowness of servo autofocus in the low light conditions both chances were missed.
Autofocus seems to work well most of the time in the bush but so dissapointing when a chance is missed.
Just wonder whether more experienced "in bush" photographers have their cameras set on manual focus?
Thanks: Ian Mc

Simon Bennett
09-03-2009, 04:36 PM
Ian, I think your NZ bush tends to be quite a bit darker than ours (rainforest aside). When I visited NZ last year, I managed to get a few reasonable images in the bush with a 70-200mm lens + 1.4 tc, and 500mm generally using flash. Perhaps the IR focus-assist on the 580ex flash helped a bit. Having said that I could not get a Saddleback in focus - way to quick for me. Simon

Ian McHenry
09-03-2009, 08:03 PM
Thanks Simon
I was thinking using a flash could be an option.
Towards the end of a long trek I was fortunate to have a saddleback fly to a branch in front of me.
Sometimes feel birds take pity on weary photographers with a brief " Here I am" LOL !!!
Anyway here is one of the contre jour images.
Cheers: Ian Mc

Simon Bennett
09-04-2009, 02:12 AM
Yes, Yes that's him: as he taunted, I fumbled!

Tony Whitehead
09-04-2009, 06:50 AM
Birds in the bush are really challenging due to low light levels and intervening twigs, foliage. A fast lens, sensitive camera body, lots of practice and even more luck seem to be the crucial ingredients :D:D:D. I've had a lot of frustration chasing Saddlebacks and Stitchbirds - the best success has been when they are on the edge of a clearing so the light levels are higher with less intervening vegetation. Flash is invaluable for lighting but I haven't used it to assist focus.

Ian McHenry
09-04-2009, 05:11 PM
Thanks Tony
Karori Wildlife Sanctuary offers many challenges from fairly easy to really difficult, but I hope to improve from more knowledge of the light on the different tracks if I get back there sometime.
Cheers: Ian Mc

01-31-2010, 06:44 AM
I'm glad to find I'm not the only one with those challenges. I'm learning to pre-set up my camera with the manual focus once I get to a spot where I think I'll be taking shots. And then switch to autofocus so I can press as soon as I see a bird. That seems to be working for the most part.

Ian McHenry
01-31-2010, 03:20 PM
Thanks for your post Kathie.
Congratulations that you've developed a system that works.
Might give it a try.
I'm leaning more and more to the belief that it's the camera brand and model which is most likely to determine whether low light AF will work and if not then manual focussing looks like the way to go.
Cheers: Ian Mc

01-31-2010, 03:41 PM
I'm using a Nikon D90 Ian and love it.