Friday, October 8, 2010

Shooting Practice

If you live near a body of water you might find gulls to be more of a nuisance than a thing of beauty.  Whatever your viewpoint, I find that sea gulls make great subjects for shooting practice... with a camera of course :-).

While my favorite photographic subject is still landscapes, I really enjoy nature photography as well.  With rocks and trees you can generally take your time to compose the shot, adjust your exposure, review your results, make adjustments and reshoot.  Nature photography, however, is a different animal.  It's much more fluid.  Your subject isn't likely to sit still and smile for the camera.  Some of the best images tend to be action shots.... that osprey swooping down to snag a fish from the water or the fox pouncing on its lunch in the field.  To capture these images you need to be able to anticipate the event and know that when you press the shutter button, your camera is going to respond as you expect.

When I have nature on my mind, I usually borrow my wife's Nikon 70-300 4.5-5.6 lens.  It gives me an additional 100mm of reach over my everyday Nikon 18-200mm.  It's also an entirely different shooting experience.  I shoot with both eyes open which, when shooting fast moving objects, provides an advantage in helping to locate your target more quickly.  Viewing an object with your normal eyesight from one eye and zoomed in at 300mm through the viewfinder with the other takes practice.  I also find that the 70-300 doesn't auto focus as fast as the 18-200.  Put these two things together and the only way you're going to be prepared for that "once in a lifetime shot" when it unfolds before you is to have invested the time in advance.  That's were the sea gulls come into the picture.   Odds are pretty good that you can find a decent sized flock down on the pier which provide ample opportunity to practice panning and focusing.

The next time you find yourself near the water with some spare time on your hands, give it a try. 


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