The Carolina Nature Photography Association sponsored a weekend at Bluffton, SC with a variety of trips that photographers could take in the area.
The first event was Shore Birds with Eric Horan. Eric Horan is a photographer who sponsorstrips in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. (Click on his name for more information.)Eric met us at the dock where we boarded his boat just after dawn. I had never photographed from a small boat before so this was a novel experience. Over the course of 3 hours we visited Huspah Creek, Calibogue Sound and Port Royal Sound.
Eric found many bird-subjects for us to photograph. I was using a Nikon 70-300mm with a polarizer filter. I chose that lens because it is relatively small and light but can zoom in close when needed. Once Eric spotted a bird, he would maneuver the boat into position and slowly move the boat closer. He cautioned us not to make any abrupt motions which would scare away the birds.
I have learned when photographing moving subjects, it’s important to make sure that the shutter speed is 1/250 sec or faster. That means that the shutter will open and shut in 1/250 of a second. Pretty fast. However, if you have enough light you can set shutter speed to 1/500 second. My camera will track my target if it moves after you have locked your focus on it. This allows you to follow the action and it will adjust the focus as needed. This technique takes practice but I was able to capture a heron that jumped into flight while I was photographing it. You have to be ready.
When photographing birds, you need to be aware of change. The light can change or the bird can begin to move quickly. The more you practice this type of photography the more you can spot the subtle changes that might require you to adjust your shutter speed or your aperture. Keep an eye on your background. If your aperture setting is low, f/2.8 up to f/5.6, the background will be more blurred out and that is what you want.
Birds weren’t the only subjects for our photography. We followed a shrimp boat called the Josie N to see if we could catch the action.