Experimenting With Movement

Gulls swoop and fight for seed

I’ve recently been exploring the idea of movement within photography. It was a very dominant theme at this year’s Wild Photos 2011 conference and at the 2011 Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, so I have been inspired to give it a go myself.

The easiest and most accessible subject (in theory) is birdlife. I had envisioned the kind of shots I was seeking but I was initially a little uncomfortable with how blurred / out of focus the shots might appear. I soon learned that to obtain a professionally blurred image is harder than it looks. When you want to make something very specifically blurred for a specific composition it can be harder than taking a pin sharp composed shot.

The wetlands of Martin Mere were the perfect place to practice. With thousands of geese and migrant Whooper Swans, there was more than enough feathered action for me to get to grips with this new technique. However, it was the common gulls that I had most success with. A feeding frenzy prompted dozens of gulls from the sky to congregate and compete for seed. As more seed was provided the gulls would swoop down again, and again, and again….allowing me to learn from their behaviour and start to predict their movements. This, in turn, allowed me to repeatedly try new compositions, shutter speeds and ISO settings.  I was particularly happy with the shot taken above – it’s exactly the composition I had in mind, and provides the texture and colours I wanted without extensive post processing. It was taken with a Canon EOS 7D at 320mm, f/5.6, ISO 150.

Not bad for a first trip out with a new camera and trying out a new technique! Watch this space for more ‘movement’ shots over the coming months.

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