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 Nature Photography :: Tutorials :: #03

Previously published in Digital Photography + Design magazine.

When dealing with wildlife subjects your reactions will often not be fast enough and it becomes necessary to anticipate what the subject will do.

Before taking the photo of a Radjah Shelduck below I had been observing the duck for several minutes, watching it through the camera with the bird in the centre of the frame.

After a while its body language indicated that it was about to take off and I know that when this happens it's a split-second event, with no time to think or pan the camera.

I moved my framing to allow plenty of space to the right of the bird, assuming that this is the direction it would move, and waited.

Sure enough, within seconds it exploded into flight. I could do nothing but press the shutter button once.

 
Fig 1: Shelduck takes off, right in centre frame.
Image #12705
 
 

As luck would have, it I captured the wings in a perfect position, but the framing of the bird was not luck, it was anticipation.

If I had not moved the camera before the bird took off I would have made a photo something like figure 2.

 
Fig 2: Shelduck takes off, as it might have been if I hadn't anticipated the direction of flight.  
 
Figure 2 just may be appropriate in a magazine layout for several reasons, say as a double-page spread, but I doubt that anyone would suggest that it is a better composition as a stand-alone photo.
 
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