A lot of luck in a great flushing pheasant photo

I’ve shot a lot of birds from the opening of dove season through today.  My favorite was with a camera on a recent trip to Ringneck Ranch to spend time with Bernd zur Nedden, a German hunter.

Even at six frames per second this flushing pheasant was only in a wide-angle shot for two frames. It's luck that one of the pics captured the dog, bird and hunter perfectly.

The photo was the lead shot on last Sunday’s outdoors page and may be the best flushing bird pic I’ve gotten in 30 years of covering the outdoors. Experience played a part, good equipment played a part and luck played a huge part.

Marty, a German shorthair, gave us a great point that left no doubt of a bird’s location.  I took the sun in consideration and figured the bird would flush into the wind. My Canon 7D’s lens was backed open to 17 mm. for as wide-angle shot as possible.

Zur Nedden moved in for the flush and I held the shutter down the split-second I heard wings in the grass. The first shot barely showed the bird rising from the grass and Marty’s tailend in the air. The third photo caught the bird sailing away but again all the pic showed of Marty was a brown bump in the weeds.

The second photo has it all. Marty’s mid-air, mouth open only a few feet behind the pheasant that’s totally visible, wings outstretched in full view. The camera shoots about six or seven frames per second and things just lined-out right.

So many times I’ve had the bird mostly covered by flapping wings, back-lit or just a tiny spec in the photo. The only thing keeping it from being even better is guide Brad Stout in the background is a bit of a distraction.

Oh well, I’m still thrilled.

Here are few of the specifics for you photo-nerds…like me.

Date: 1/16/12
Time: 3:05:30 PM
Model: Canon EOS 7D
Serial #:
Firmware: Adobe Photoshop CS Macintosh
Frame #:
Lens (mm): 17
ISO: 400
Aperture: 4.0
Shutter: 1/2500
Exp. Comp.: 0.0
Flash Comp.:
Program: Aperture Priority
Focus Mode:
White Bal.:
ICC Profile: Adobe RGB (1998)