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lyskonoh úzkozobý, samice / Red-necked Phalarope, female (Phalaropus lobatus)

lyskonoh úzkozobý, samice / Red-necked Phalarope, female (Phalaropus lobatus)

lyskonoh úzkozobý, samice / Red-necked Phalarope, female (Phalaropus lobatus)

lyskonoh úzkozobý, samice / Red-necked Phalarope, female (Phalaropus lobatus)

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Sunday, 04 October 2009 21:55

Bird photography using car as a hide


1D3_1493PSWhen I met a Danish bird photographer with the nickname John Fugl (John Bird) at the Norwegian island Runde last year during my late winter visit, one of the interesting information I have learned was that one of the most efficient ways how to approach birds while not disturbing them was using the car as a hide. At that time I still thought that the best and only way how to get close to the birds was to lie down on the ground covered by masking net; soon after that I realised John was true.



1D3_1669PS If you want to make picture of birds, you have to get pretty close to them – in most cases the distance you need is shorter that the bird can stand. Neither the long super-telelenses like 500 or 600mm can help – even when using this equipment, the ideal distance to make nice photo is some 5 – 7 m. The birds are in general afraid of people, they think we are their enemies and quite dangerous – well there are some exceptions as for example the young inexperienced birds or the birds from afar. This either caused by the bad experience of birds with people (hunting and shooting the birds), caution during the breeding season or simply by the fact that the human face with forward-focused eyes signalize we are predators, requires a good knowledge of the birds behaviour and the photographer need to know how to move and hide to make a nice snapshot of the small creature.



1D3_0663PS So how about the bird-photography using car as a hide? I know some photographers who simply come to the birding spot, stop the engine, mask the window and wait till the bird comes. The birds usually get used to the car very quickly – the big metal “something” does not look much dangerous to them. There are even a special photo-accessories on the market today that helps to do this wildlife-from-the-car photography – these are especially diverse holders that help to mount the heavy photo equipment onto the frame of the car window. When I do this kind of photography, it happens mostly when travelling and specially in the countries with good opportunities (it means enough fences, poles and posts along the roads) to spot the bird close to the car – one of the best countries in Europe is no doubts the United Kingdom with fence around literally every field or property.



1D3_0646PS1D3_0653PS It is quite easy – you just have to watch what happens I front of you when you drive through the country; when I spot the bird somewhere close to the road, I start to decelerate slowly so I can finally stop the car when reaching the bird but not to scare him up. The same rules work here as when approaching the birds on the walks – no quick movements, no sudden change of the direction or sudden halts (these are the best recipe how to frighten the bird away!). I usually have the camera ready somewhere close to me or you can have an assistant sitting next to you (my wife usually :-), I get ready and rise the camera into the position for shooting – this is still done while slowing down the car and reaching the bird`s post. I always try to keep the lens inside the car and not to extrude it outside the window as well as to diminish my own movements inside the car – the bird is quite watchful at this time and can fly away anytime! Sometimes we pay for this fast approach to the animal – the bird may look a bit distressed on the picture and the perch does not look much natural in most cases (barbed wire or wooden pole at the best) but if you want to variegate your otherwise dull car trip, this is a really good way.


Last Updated on Sunday, 04 October 2009 23:01
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