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Posted by
Spike (not Bristol, United Kingdom) on 23 July 2010 in Animal & Insect and Portfolio.

While one meadow is home to clapped-out bumblebees (see yesterday's photo), in another, it's all action. Swallows, anything up to a dozen of them, skimming, darting, dodging here and there, in pursuit of tasty winged treats to take back to hungry nestlings.

It's pointless trying to use autofocus for this. They move and dodge far too quickly, and they're too small in the frame. The best hope is to watch them for a bit, see where they go, then pre-focus to a certain distance and wait for them to go that way. They come surprisingly close. Then pan, lens wide open, ISO setting a higher than usual, not so much conscious anticipation as "use The Force, Luke".

Even then, don't expect more than a frame or two out of dozens; even then, you'll need to crop heavily. But it's all good practice.

The Dervish? That would be the one in the middle of the meadow, little box pressed to his face, whirling and swinging and muttering...

Tech stuff: 200mm (35mm equiv) prime lens at about f/4, manual focus at around 6m. This is about 1/4 of the full frame. Some deblurring with FocusMagic (surprisingly little, actually) and a touch of local contrast enhancement with Topaz Details. So far, I've resisted the temptation to add motion blur to the background, but I'm not sure this isn't missing something as a result.

Thanks for stopping to take a look.