Flight of the Blue Jay

I’m still a bit limited in getting out to photograph I’m trying to keep my camera reflexes in good shape. I continue looking for creative photo opportunities close to home. Anytime I can study the behavior of birds, no matter the type I find it adds to the storehouse of knowledge that will make ALL my avian photography better.

A case in point. I’ve been watching birds from my back porch and seeing what I can do to show behavior. I prefer to show movement vs. a still portrait in my work when possible. I have noticed that birds will tend to repeat patterns if they are hanging out in one area. IE a hummingbird will approach a feeder or flower a certain way almost every time returning to the same branch to rest. If a bird goes to the top of a tree, there is a good possibility that the bird will return to the same branch in a short period. I often share that you need to observe wildlife for a while before picking up your camera for the most exciting images.

bluejay flight bridge screen captureScreen capture from Adobe Bridge of bluejay flight

Most birds will take off into the wind. The bluejay above was facing the sun and the wind direction. The Great Blue Heron along with many other birds will usually offload some poo just before taking off. If startled or they are feeling threatened they will tend to turn away from the perceived threat.

bluejay in the treetopThis bluejay landed in the top of the tree waving in the light breeze.

I watched as it left the tree and tried to memorize how it began its flight. Did it fly high and up or start to dive to create lift? How did the wings move? With that image in my mind, I set the Lumix G9 camera to SH which stands for Super High speed. It uses the electronic shutter to allow for twenty FPS. The Leica 100-400mm lens was used fully racked out to its 800MM equivalent

bluejay flightFlight of the Bluejay with watercolor treatment

The image above was composited using Photoshop Layers and Masks. All relevant photos were selected in Adobe Bridge. Under the Tools Menu, I chose Load Files into Photoshop Layers which placed all files into a single PSD. Additional canvas size was added to the left side. Each image was offset and masked so that each image was not overlapping. Then a series of Photoshop Filters were applied to create a watercolor feel to the image.

bluejay flight with cloudsBecause the sky was flat, I added a cloud image to the Photoshop File.

A cloud image was opened and dragged into the flight file. Blend Modes were experimented with until I found one that added subtle sky detail.

This one might call for a Photoshop tutorial to show the progression of this image build. Let me know if you would like to see me produce one.

Yours in Creative Photography,        Bob