Capturing Seagulls in Flight

Capturing Seagulls in Flight

I'm not complaining but taking pictures of soaring seagulls is hard.

Many years ago ferries plying the waters of British Columbia used to throw garbage overboard.  This attracted a multitude of seagulls that would travel back and forth with the ships.  They would surf the wind created by the boats movement creating opportunities to take closeup pictures as they soared almost stationary next to the boat.  At some point the ferries stopped throwing garbage overboard and most seagulls stopped accompanying them.  The opportunity to have a seagull soaring stationary next to you at eye level is now much harder to find.

Nowadays one is more likely to be stationary, surrounded by seagulls that rapidly soar and pivot overhead.  The camera must be set up to freeze the motion.  The bird, moving rapidly, must be found and tracked in the camera.  Finally, the picture, or pictures, have to be taken at exactly the right moment.  This requires bright conditions, a steady hand, and the ability to locate and follow a fast moving bird in the camera's viewfinder.  For every picture that is "okay" there will multitudes of failures.  Patience is required as hours and days will go by where that elusive "great shot" never materializes.

But, then it happens.  The light is just right, the bird is frozen in perfect focus, and we can capture a bit of insight into what it is like to be a bird.  All of the patience, practice, and effort suddenly becomes worth it.


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