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Photographic Tips - with Charlie Lynam

There must be very few of us who have not been fascinated for hours on end watching various Kingfishers going about their business catching prey.

Charlie Lynam shares some photographic tips with us after selecting various shutter speeds to capture these awesome images.

"Having often watched Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis) hovering above water to position for its daily catch, I decided to try various shutter speeds to capture the motion of the wings.

To my astonishment, I was able to blur the wings at an incredibly low shutter speed of 1/40 sec using the camera in handheld mode. The amazing discovery when reviewing the photos, was to find the body and head of the bird perfectly “frozen” at 1/40 sec. This can be seen in Photograph 1.

To provide some perspective, a portrait photograph of a person taken at this speed would be blurred with the slightest movement of the head. Even still life is difficult to photograph at this speed, due to the slightest camera shake.

The ability of a Pied Kingfisher to attain a complete motionless body and head, whilst the wings flap at a phenomenal rate, it nothing short of miraculous, a tribute the wonders of mother nature.

This discovery provided the motivation to understand more about this phenomenon”.

Photograph 1 of the Pied Kingfisher with shutter speed set at 1/40 sec

Photograph 2 with shutter speed set at 1/160 sec

Photograph 3 with shutter speed set at 1/8000 sec

Pied Kingfishers have similar colouring in both genders, except that the male Pied Kingfisher has a double breast band, the female has one only. Plumage is all black and white. It is locally quite common and although considered to be sedentary will move around in search of adequate food availability.

Pied Kingfishers feed mostly on fish but will also ingest small crabs and insects.

Nests are excavated tunnels in the banks of water bodies or water courses. Incubation of the eggs is shared by both sexes, the chicks hatch after approximately 18 days.

If you wish to read up more on the sustained hovering of Pied Kingfishers, please click on the link below to access a superb research article.



Facts researched off the Internet, words by John Llewellyn.
Pictures courtesy of Charlie Lynam.