We spent a breezy Tuesday afternoon at the Kilauea Lighthouse getting sunburned and photographing birds in flight. We were surrounded by Red-tailed Tropic Birds, White-tailed Tropic Birds, Great Frigate Birds, Brown Boobies, Red-footed Boobies, Laysan Albatross, and others as they soared and skimmed the waves just off the lighthouse point, presenting us with lots of opportunities to capture birds in flight. The challenge continues to excite me and to elude me and so I now own the perfect combination of camera and lens for me to succeed in my quest to photograph birds in flight. My Nikon D500, a crop sensor camera that when paired with my Nikkor 300mm PF lens and if needed, a Nikon 1.4X teleconverter, makes the ideal combination to photograph birds in flight.
Of course, the combination works only if it is used. And, it can only be used if it is at hand. How I managed to pack my camera bag, knowing that this trip to Hawaii’s island of Kauai was specifically for the purpose of photographing birds and NOT include my primary tool for photographing flying birds is beyond me. Yes, I neglected to pack my Nikon D500. And, it was a conscious decision because somehow my brain didn’t register the need for a “birds in flight” camera. Of course I had my Nikon D5 which is my primary wildlife camera and I love it. But, I also love the D500 and have used it primarily for photographing birds in flight since I got it. It is lightweight, has most of the attributes that I love about the D5 (especially fast firing speed). But I did not bring it with me.
So, when faced with the need to photograph birds in flight, I used my Nikon D5 with the 300mm lens instead. Don’t get me wrong. The D5 is my favorite camera and it does a superior job. However, the D5 is a larger, heavier camera and it is a full frame sensor so subject size in the frame is smaller from the same distance. I screwed up. When Moose asked me why I was using my D5 and not the D500, I did not have an answer other than stupidity. Sometimes for me, it’s one step forward, and two back. I did manage to capture some birds in flight without my preferred camera/lens combination but I regret not having it with me. This is a Red-tailed Tropic Bird. I was lucky that the right wing was not clipped but it sure came close. If only I’d had the right camera.