Three Swallow Species ~ Up Close and Personal

Discussion in 'Birds' started by jfenton, May 20, 2007.

  1. jfenton


    Jan 26, 2005
    Haverhill, MA
    I was shooting the MA Audubon Bird A Thon this past weekend for the regional Joppa Flats facility...and just like every other year that I've done this the weather was horrible. Long underwear and gloves was the rule.

    I had intended to shoot a lot of warblers but their food source appeared to be high in the trees as that's where they were and as fast as warblers move, there was next to no light anyhow.

    Therefore.....I decided to take advantage of some very chilly, but well fed swallow groups at various times throughout the weekend.

    I also forced myself to use a flash / Better Beamer combination (typically I hate using a flash) and I finally sort of figured it out. It's a amazing what 1/4" more in height will do for not blowing eyes out!

    On top of this, I was shooting a replacement body that I'd never fired a shot with yet.

    All shots were acquired with a Nikon D2Xs, 500 AFSII lens and TC14EII Converter.....Nikon SB-800 with a Better Beamer mounted on a Wimberly flash bracket.

    Please offer your comments relative to the lighting....

    Tree Swallows......

    Cold at Dawn....



    Mid the rain...



    Northern Rough Wing Swallows......

    Early Morning.....




    Near darkness due to the weather.....


    Barn Swallows in the AM.....




    Later in the afternoon and evening.....



    In the rain.......

  2. Amazing work. I never saw a resting tree swallow. They fly so fast and so erratically that are very hard to catch. Only once I could get a semi-decent one in flight. Superb job!
  3. WOW, Fantastic, Stunning, About as good as it gets,

    All the Above!!!
  4. Jim these are so good. You really made the flash look very natural.
  5. HI Jim,

    Like Alex, I don't think I have seen swallows perching. Great photos and super colors on them.

    Bob & Nan
  6. Wow, is all I can say!
  7. I am amazed at these. Yet again your expertise shines through.

    I HATE flash catchlights in the eyes, especially multiple ones; and therefore find it amazing that so few of these pictures actually have a catchlight at all, especially with the equipment you list.

    BW. Bob F.
  8. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    Fantastic images again Jim
    Good work.
  9. :eek:

    [when I get my breath back, I'll comment...]
  10. 13 Aces in that deck, Jim. You've mastered the BB, so what is next?
  11. Wow!!!

  12. jfenton


    Jan 26, 2005
    Haverhill, MA
    Flash and Catch lights

    One of the reason I hated using a flash / BB combination prior to this weekend was that I'd never get catchlights.....I'd simply get total eye blowout...even with the settings I used for these shots.

    What made the difference, was raising the flash higher. I use a Wimberly flash mount and I always just slid it on, pushed it down as far as it would go and that was that.

    I had a thought that perhaps raising it would make a difference, so I simply put it up as high as it would go....and all my problems were solved :)
  13. Jim the bracket is the key just as PJ use brackets to get the flash higher it elimintaes animal/bird blue eye as I call it. Great friggin shots BTW
  14. Jim, these are nothing short of amazing, excellent job on all of them. Swallows can give you so many different expressions, and you've captured them extremely well.

  15. revdhd


    May 2, 2007

    These captures are simply stunning. If there is any problem with the lighting, I fail to discern it. Exposure is perfect, colors are full and crisp, images are sharp and backgrounds are beautifully rendered. It doesn't get any better than this. Caps and gloves aside, these are great images.

    God bless.
  16. Flat out fantastic Jim, I have tried for along time to get good swallow shots and you have excellent shots of three species, outstanding!!!
  17. Gorgeous!

    ok, you get the idea...:biggrin:
  18. I am not going against the flow. I think Jim's photos are excellent. Exposure, composition, sharpness - all are great as usual. I will go so far as to say Jim is a photo idol - I had better stop so as not to embarrass him.

    However, there is something artificial in these photos - they seem to have studio lighting. I can't put my finger on anything in particular. The lighting seems too eve or something? Does anyone else see this?

    BTW, that last one with the rain is tremendous.
  19. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    You need to shoot with Jim some time
    He will wait for the right shot of a bird for hours. He waits for the right conditions he wants.
    he is amazing
    Sometime to get the shot it will take a year. a month or maybe lucky and 5 minutes.
  20. jfenton


    Jan 26, 2005
    Haverhill, MA
    Hi Allan

    Obviously they don't look as though it was natural light......given that it was raining and crappy though it sure beats not being able to get them at all :)
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