Aletta – Rough-Legged Hawk, “Shake a little insulating air into my wings”
Photographing “birds of prey” during an event like PhotoWILD, Carolina Raptor Center, might seem like “shooting sitting ducks” (easy targets), and it may be compared to photographing them in the wild, which I have no experience with, but there’s still a bit of challenge to it as I’m still discovering after two such events.
My good to bad photo ratio from the latest event was very similar to what Tom Dills reported in his blog post covering the PhotoWILD we both attended this past Saturday (23rd March.) My camera gear consisted of a Nikon D600 and a Tamron 200-500mm f/5-6.3 lens. I shot mostly on continuous slow and a few time continuous high (flight photo attempts) burst mode.
Five hours of the event resulted in a little over 1200 shots. My first filtering pass was based simply on the focus being “acceptable” — “acceptable” being defined as a very sharp focus on the eyes of these beautiful birds. Sounds simple but shooting at 500mm f/6.3* at 20 feet distance gives about one inch depth of field (DOF), about equal to many of their beaks. Only 400 of the original 1200 images made the first pass.
Aletta – Rough-Legged Hawk, “Only the mouse bits, please”
My second filtering pass was to eliminate those that were near duplicates (remember, burst mode shooting) and those that were not acceptable compositions, the what was I thinking when I shot that images — about 50 images made the second pass.
Of those 50 I’ll probably process less then 12-20 of them because many while good enough photos don’t exhibit, to my mind, any special qualities.
So there you have it, no more then a 60:1 unacceptable to acceptable photo ratio. Perhaps not much worst then casual walk-about nature photography but remember, this was while shooting “sitting ducks” from a tripod.
* Shooting Conditions: cloudy with low flat light requiring high ISO numbers and maximun Aperture settings in pursue of fast shutter speed.