Bird Photography: Taiwan, July 2015
While in Taiwan I had to balance escaping to take photos with spending "quality time" with the family. Fortunately for me, Kai-Ling's dad is a very talented photographer who was happy to take me out a few times specifically for capturing photographs. One of the coolest things he did for me was to take me to a couple of places for avian photography.
Of the two places we went, the first was a location known for Taiwan Magpies. The photography group we linked up with here would actually bait them - so it essentially took out all the guess work for where the birds would be. We would set up about 20-feet from a thin pole (kind of like a fishing pole) where the would stick a worm on the end. About a soon as soon as they would bait the pole, the bird would swoop down, snag the worm, and fly back to his tree. We would already have all the settings and focus dialed in.
Similar to the Magpies, the King Fishers were also baited. The owner of the place we went to would place a bowl in the middle of his small man-made pond. This bowl was submerged just under the waterline so it could not be seen from the surface while also not allowing the goldfish inside it to escape. Again, it took out all the guess work of trying to figure out where these incredibly fast birds would dive.
The only issue I had is that my Canon 5D Mk II is just too slow to be an effective birding camera. My three frames a second ends up being a slide show compared to the guys with cameras hitting 10+ fps. When trying to capture the King Fisher on a dive, I would start pressing the shutter release when he was starting his dive and would still only get his tail feathers sticking out of the water and then him flying away with the fish. Him diving in and flying away took less then half a second.
Additionally, my 70-200mm lens was alright for the King Fisher since I was only about 4-5 feet away from it, but even the 400mm lens I borrowed for the Magpies was a little short. If this is something I would actually get into, I would need invest in faster body (i.e. Cannon 1Dx) and some longer lenses (i.e. 600mm+ or 400mm with extender), which would be a very expensive proposition.