Photographing vultures

Photographing vultures or birds in flight in general is one of the most difficult branches of the photography. Today I will get a little more specific about photographing vultures. These beautiful creatures are the clean nature and fly with their width of 2-3 metres on the thermic of the wind… How fascinating?

Something about vultures itself
The vultures that I am photographing in the Gorges du Verdon are the Griffon Vulture. These birds can get a wide span of 2,7m and live amongst others in the Gorges du Verdon (Provence). They make their nests in the cliffs of the mountains and fly by the thermic of the wind, this means that if the wind changes direction that the flying pattern of the vulture changes also.

Photographing them
First of all you need to know where they are and where it is possible for you to sit or stand without being in danger. Then it is intelligent to first observe, what are they doing? How is the wind? In which direction is it going? In which way are they flying and the most important one, what is their flying pattern? If you know their flying pattern you can anticipate on which places you need to look to get that photo that is already printed in your head.

Next to that you also need to have your camera ready. That means that your settings should be correct before the vulture arrives. They fly very fast and if you still have to sort out your settings you lost your chance.  I always shoot in AF-C (Continuous autofocus), high speed shooting (the most frames per second possible), a high aperture (low number, f2.8-4) and then regarding the natural light that I have I set my ISO. So basically my aperture and ISO decide my shutter speed. If my shutter speed too low I increase the ISO. 

I look far into the canyon trying to find them from the start, that helps me to follow their flying pattern and to get them right on the photo when they come into my direction. When they then arrive there is only 1 thing left to do: SHOOT!

Lisa Kiburg

Lisa Kiburg

As a passionated photographer, traveller and blogger I love to share my experiences and knowledge with you. I am inspired by nature, animals and culture. With my guides and blogs I’d like to inspire you too. Interested in a photoshoot? Feel free to contact me!

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