Tips for outdoor wedding ceremonies in the Natal Midlands
Wedding Planning Tips
Ideas to take photo of the bearded vultures
May 1, 2013
Go where the bearded vultures are. One of the best sites in the Drakensberg to photograph Bearded Vultures is at the Giants Castle Lammegeyer hide. If you have a limited timethen this is the location to photograpgh these rare and endangered birds. Giants Castle provides an easy to accss and comfortabl hide situated on a ride looking straight onto the Drakensberg escarpment. This is Bearded Vulture territory. The birds are attracted by regular and respectful feeding, and photographers seldom leave the area without good sightings.
Have patience, and pick the weather conditions. Like all wild animals, Bearded Vultures have some predictable behavior patterns. One is that they are naturally nervous, and after a first, quick view of the feeding site, will retreat to a cliff and watch the area, sometimes for hours, before coming in to feed. Photographers need to be patient, and wait. Don’t plan to ‘see the birds quickly’ and the go on a day-long hike. You might get THE shot straight-off, but you may need to wait a good while. In addition, the Beaded Vultures only come in to feed in the mornings of clear, low-wind days. They simply won’t arrive if it’s overcast, misty or blowing a gale.
Use a camera that can capture motion. The faster and longer the lens on your camera (given that you have the skill to use it) the better the photos you will be able to take of birds. But the great news is that at the Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge Vulture Restaurant, even ‘entry-level’ DSLR cameras can provide great images. Ideally you need to be able to use a shutter speed in excess of 1/1000th/sec to get the clear, focused pictures that are so impressive. A typical kit lens with a 250mm zoom will give you surprising respectable results.
Focus on the bird, not the scenery. Adjusting your F-stop down allows you to create an image that has your targeted bird in focus, with the background less intrusive. Because the birds are very large, if you start with an F-stop between F5 and F8 you have the best option to get the whole bird in focus – but not the distraction of the background. For a photographer, the wonderful red ring around the eyes makes the first rule of animal photography “focus on the eye” a lot easier than many other birds.
Use familiar settings. If you are nervous of getting your camera’s manual settings wrong and prefer pre-programmed modes, use the ‘sports’ mode. The ‘landscape’ mode will work when the birds are still, but not give you good images when in flight. Typically the birds stay at the feeding site for no more than two minutes at a time. That’s not the time to be dithering about your camera settings. You will have time while waiting for the birds to fly in. Use that to try a few different settings so that you are happy to concentrate on the birds and the composition when they arrive.