Tony McLean's East Yorkshire Wildlife Diary

Wildlife photography in East Yorkshire

Kingfisher in flight

Kingfisher in flight, originally uploaded by Tony McLean.

I can almost hear you all groan in unison…not another bloody Kingfisher! Ok, I apologise—but I’m not particularly sincere.

I’ve been trying to capture the flight of a Kingfisher at Tophill Low for some weeks but without much success. A sharp image of a bird in flight requires a fast shutter speed. The fact that a Kingfisher is a particularly small bird (less than eight inches in old money) and that it can reach a top-speed of around 27 m.p.h. means that to be successful, you need both luck and fast reflexes.

Actually, there is a tip i can share. Most birds tend to excrete just before they launch and the Kingfisher is no exception. However, a fast shutter speed (1/4000 second was used here) won’t aways guarantee a sharp image. I guess that bit is down to luck and perseverance.

Now there is always a trade off when using a fast shutter speed. You either need lots of bright light and a wide-open aperture (this image was at f5.6 as I was using a x1.4 tele-conveter on my Nikon 500 mm lens) or a fast film speed. I had my Nikon D3 set at ISO 1000. I didn’t worry too much about digital noise as the D3 has a full frame sensor and I knew that any noise could be easily suppressed during post-processing. Actually, I always try to avoid bright lighting conditions, especially when photographing birds with white plumage as it is very easy for the white areas to ‘burn-out’. The Kingfisher has some of the most stunningly beautiful plumage of any U.K. bird, but the white patch behind the head can become a huge problem if not carefully handled.

I managed to obtain several shots during the evening but this one was the star of the show.


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3 thoughts on “Kingfisher in flight

  1. Mandy Sears on said:

    Fabulous shot Tony!

  2. An excellent sharp shot of “The King” Tony, no mean feat to capture one of these in level flight. Well done!

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