Sand Hill Cranes with the Moon
Many people these days will photograph one subject here, another there, and merge the two images. They may even use virtual object to place behind their subjects. These birds with the moon comes from a single exposure with the bird and moon in the very same frame; no cheating. They were taken with my Sony 200-600mm lens.
My camera was mounted to a tripod. I waited for the birds to get close to where I wanted them in the frame and then fired away. The camera was set on high frame rate shooting (in my case 10 frames per second). You take a burst of images and then wait for the next flurry of birds to come flying by. With some luck and many repeated tries I got this bird nicely positioned within the moon's outline.
Since my camera is stationary I have the optical stabilization turned off. The shutter speed is above 1/1000th of a second to get sharp, in-focus birds. As with all movement, leave more space in front of the birds than behind them. They need space to fly into or else they will make the viewer's eyes want to exit the photo with the first bird.
Light levels were already low, but I like the atmosphere created by the last rays of the sun on the birds, as weak as it is. The low light levels did cause me problems as I was perched on a viewing deck. There were many people out coming to see these birds. Much foot-traffic on a viewing deck is a nightmare for photographers. The viewing deck vibrates as people move around. To eliminate camera blur with a 600mm lens attached requires a fast shutter speed. Low light levels combined with fast shutter speeds only means one thing, high ISO. As a photographer you need to do what you need to do to get the shot, even if you have to deal with noise afterwards.
Go out there and enjoy nature while you take a few images.
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