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Thread: Taking Photos of Shorebirds - How to guide.

  1. #1
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    Default Taking Photos of Shorebirds - How to guide.

    I thought I would share how I am currently taking my shorebird photos. First it is really important to try and get eye level with a bird. We are trying for eye contact in all our shots and having the low angle really helps. This is my kit.

    1. Frying Pan - I use an old one my wife no longer wants.
    2. Swimming clothes - I usally use a rash vest and shorts.
    3. Change of clothes and a towel in your car.
    4. Camera
    5. Lots of patience
    6. Sunscreen and a hat. (Thanks GeorgeP)

    I currently have a Canon 7D and Ef400L 5.6 (640 Focal length) which means I need to get close for maximum detail. It would be ideal to have a 600/f4 + 2x Converter giving 1200 focal length when shooting shorebirds but at this stage I am just starting out and have the basic kit. So how do we get close enough to get some detail in out shots.

    I read about using a frying pan online and decided to give it a go. I basically scout out the birds I want to capture then go commando style. I usually walk to the birds safety zone then get down on my stomach and commando crawl with the frying pan in one hand and the camera in the other. I will do a few metres at a time then stop and make sure the birds are settled. I repeat this until I get close enough. I then place the camera on the fying pan and take a few shots and then push the pan and camera forward a small amount at a time. I repeat this as much as I can.

    It is trail and error with certain species. Some are very flighty like Pacific Golden Plovers and Sooty Oystercatchers whilst others will tolerate your slow movements.

    If you can time the tide so it is coming in you can often crawl close then let the tide push the birds to you.

    Here is an example. I spotted some Red-capped Plovers on the beach. I approached then went on my stomach and crawled my way forward. I managed to get about 5-10 metres from a male who was resting.


    As you can see I have crawled to get pretty close.



    Here is me and the frying pan taking the shot.


    And here is the end result.

    Red-capped Plover

    And a few other examples using the same technique.
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	godwitsfeather.jpg 
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    Bar-tailed Godwits - This was taken on an incoming tide. I was wet and the water was about halfway up the frying pan.


    Double-banded Plover.

    That is about it. Would love to hear how others are doing it as I am just starting out and learning all the time.
    Hope this helps some other beginners out there, regards Duade.
    Last edited by Duade Paton; 08-04-2012 at 06:30 PM.
    View my latest review of the Canon EF400 5.6L View my trip report to Auckland Islands, NZ
    Follow me on Facebook. Australian List: 350 (Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross 26/07/14 Wollongong Pelagic, NSW)

  2. The following user says thank you to Duade Paton for their reply:

    Alan Nicol (09-04-2012)

  3. #2
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    Default

    Nice little write-up Duade,

    Here's another earlier thread on the same topic...

    http://www.feathersandphotos.com.au/...RDS-WADER-quot
    Cheers,
    Geoff


    reposts welcome

  4. #3
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    Thanks for taking the time to write this, Duade. It's always interesting to read about how other people overcome a common challenge. I love the shots, particularly the Double-band. Please also include sunscreen as item 6 in your kit.
    Cheers,

    George

    Life List : 481 (Southern Cassowary, Etty Bay, QLD, Oct., 2016)

  5. #4
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    A frying pan, what a great idea!

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    Thanks for sharing Duade. Loved the Godwits.

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    Wow Duade, thanks for showing us your technique it sure produces the goods!
    Richard Jackson
    http://www.owlphotographer.com/
    your comments and suggestions are welcomed

  8. #7
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    Funny timing - without seeing this post I just spent $10 on a fry pan & some bits & pieces so I can mount my ball head to it. Off to the North Coast in the morning so hope to try it out on the sand at Iluka.

    Thanks for the tips.
    Cheers

    Cameron

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    Hi Duade, good little article, a technique I haven't tried. I wrote a little article some time ago about using a stick to scratch around in the sand when trying to approach birds. My theory of deliberatly flicking sand and water around is so the last thing I look like is an approaching predator. I've had this work very well -exceptionally well at times. Other days they just dont want to be approached.
    Kind regards Trevor.

    Website: www.trevormurrayphotography.com

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    I have a frying pan and just need to drill the hole for the 3/8 bolt to go in to hold my Wimberley head. I tried Araldite suggested by a friend and the darn glue held for about 30 seconds. LOL!!!!

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    Great write up Duade. Thanks for the time and effort you put into it. "How to" essays like this with photos showing you as well as the end result are great.
    Cheers, Dave

    www.davidstowe.com.au WORKSHOPS

    Aus Life List IOC= 688 - Carpentarian Grasswren
    "So God created every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good." Genesis 1:21


  12. #11
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    Great stuff Duade! Mind you belly crawling on the beach is a little easier than muddy. sometimes spikey mangroves/foreshores! I find the full belly crawl for my mid 50s body a bit tough and tend to do the knee crawl as far as possible - the frypan is a gem of an idea - thanks for sharing a great article and some cracking images!! cheers David Taylor

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    You need to wright in the sand after you finished the shots...... This was not a turtle!! Good stuff, I use my binoculars as a rest sometime when I'm in the grass but not on the beach.
    Jack Shick
    Sea to Summit Expeditions

    www.lordhoweislandtours.net

  14. #13
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    Not sure which came first the skimmer or the frypan, in any case this article describes use of a skimmer which is an item you can purchase if desired or use it it to get some ideas about how you can utilise or modify a frypan:

    http://www.naturescapes.net/docs/index.php/articles/432

    They show using it with just a quick release clamp or attaching a head, either a ball or gimbal style to the pan and then sliding it along on the sand. I can see some advantages to having the camera attached and pushing it along, gives you one hand free and the camera is always in position when required and if you wanted to use a 500mm then carrying it like the 400mm f5.6 just wouldn't be an option. Having a head would give more flexibility in framing, the other option is to use a bean bag like the skimmer sack mentioned in the article. Though I think I agree with David on the belly crawl!

    The other thing to mention is you really should crawl back out again once you've got your shots if the bird is still hanging around.
    Chris Ross
    Helensburgh NSW
    www.aus-natural.com
    Instagram: @ausnaturalimages

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ákos Lumnitzer View Post
    I have a frying pan and just need to drill the hole for the 3/8 bolt to go in to hold my Wimberley head. I tried Araldite suggested by a friend and the darn glue held for about 30 seconds. LOL!!!!
    It must have been a non-stick frypan. Ha Ha Ha
    Richard Jackson
    http://www.owlphotographer.com/
    your comments and suggestions are welcomed

  16. #15
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    Funny thought Richard. It was...

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