First I am going to share my setup with you. I have my Canon 5DM4 with a Tamron 150-600mm lens mounted on my Really Right Stuff BH_55 ball head. This is mounted on my Vacu-pod, (use this link to get a free Vacu-pod Bar with purchase) which is attached to the driver window. Attached to the camera is a Canon 600 EX II RT flash with a MagMod MagBeam to extend my flash output (use this link to save 15% off at Hunts Photo) and a Quantam Turbo SC battery pack.
Setup from inside car
What the bluebirds see - From outside car
Camera in vertical orientation
Today I took a slightly different approach. I zoomed in a little closer and used a wider aperture to give me less depth of filed, realizing I was not going to get as many flight shots. After my first few shots in the horizontal orientation, trying to get the birds flying into the box, I shifted to a vertical composition and decided just to get them right at the box.
Female Western Bluebird 1/2000 sec at f/6.3; ISO 640; 483mm; Flash ETTL -2
Male Western Bluebird 1/2000 sec at f/6.3; ISO 1000; 552mm; Flash ETTL -2
I found the flash easier to work in the ETTL mode using the Flash Exposure Compensation set to -2. I just didn’t have to monitor the flash as much and change its settings when making other adjustments to shutter, aperture or ISO on the camera.
Of course, when you are shooting 10 frames a second, with the shutter button held down the whole time the bird approaches the box, the flash can’t keep up with the shutter, even when using an external battery pack. I would guess, only one out of three images actually has the flash going off. Here is an example where I got the good pose but didn’t get the flash.
Female Western Bluebird 1/1600 sec at f/8; ISO 1600; 600mm
In this image I like how proud the male was of the big worm he caught. He sat on the outside of the box for about 15 seconds showing me the worm and posing for pictures.
Male Western Bluebird 1/1600 sec at f/8; ISO 1600; 500mm; Flash ETTL -2
Once again photographing the bluebirds has been a fun challenge and a chance to practice with some new equipment.
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