Black Skimmers in Flight

Most of us that photograph birds are a little bit jealous of these creatures. Unlike us they are not bound to the ground but have the ability to soar, seemingly effortlessly, through the air. (Of course they may be jealous of us and our opposable thumbs but that’s another story.) Because of our fascination of these flying creatures it’s only natural to want to photograph them in flight.

When photographing birds in flight is my goal I set my camera in manual mode, meter the sky and then adjust to overexpose by 1/3 to 2/3 of a stop. It’s a formula that works. In the case of the shots included in this post I was stalking and shotoing seated birds, but was more than willing to take arial shots when the opportunity presented its self. In this case I was shooting in AV (aperature priority for the Nikon crowd) but, unlike what I ususally do for static subjects, I had the focus in AI Servo mode to track moving targets. In this case I I have exposure composition dialed in for a +1/3 exposure. It’s not as accurate as the manual method, but works nice when off-hand shooting both static and flying birds.

The images below were shot Wednesday morning on Bird Shoal in the Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve. There was a wide varitey of birds on the shoal but I was really focusing on the Black Skimmers. I find them a fascinating bird. I hope you enjoy the images.

A Black Skimmer glides a few feet above the sand on Bird Shoal along North Carolina's Crystal Coast.

A Black Skimmer soars above Back Sound along North Carolina's Crystal Coast.

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