SattalScape… Part 1 – Small Niltava

We were lucky that the Small Niltava, one of the prettiest little birds that I have had the fortune to photograph, graced us with his presence at the Sattal lake during our trip in May. And it was not just a fleeting presence. His presence was quite unexpected and there was this collective sigh from the entire group when he first made his presence felt. And what a presence I should add.

He was around for a while and gave us lots of opportunities for getting nice profile pics. Once I was done with some profile shots that I was reasonably happy with, I thought I should try capture a bit of action and focussed on trying to get a shot of either a take-off or a landing.

Working with a 600mm prime on a crop-body meant that the field of view is extremely narrow – which made this endeavour quite challenging and frustrating. The Small Niltava, or any of these small birds for that matter, are extremely quick. This means that one needs a very fast shutter speed (1/2500 or even faster) and also that the chances of coming away disappointed are quite high.

The best that I could manage was this pic of the Small Niltava landing on a perch. Looking at one wing being open, I can only guess that the bird was turning while landing on the perch rather than flying in straight and direct (in which case both the wings would have been open).

DSC_6412_filteredSince I was not sure which direction the bird would fly in from, I had opened up the aperture one-stop to get a bit of depth. But I did not want to go beyond an ISO of 640 to ensure minimal  noise in the image. I settled for a shutter speed of 1/2000 – just enough to get a decent wing-blur but a tad slow to completely freeze the action.

In hindsight, the perch is composed a bit too central for this image. Not having a direct line to the pretty bird I had to make allowance for him landing on the perch from any direction. And this gives me another reason (as if I needed any) to try and make a trip back again to get a better shot.

Nikon D7100 | 600 f/4 | f/5.6 | ISO 640 | 1/2000 | uncropped | noise reduction by Neat Image

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