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The insurance shot

August 26, 2014
The AAMI picture

The AAMI picture

One of the joys of walking in the bush is seeing something you haven’t seen before – even better, getting a clear, definitive picture of it so that it can be positively identified later. Birds are tricky. They are usually small and high up in the branches so that auto-focus cameras rarely get them in focus, instead focussing on the branches all around. So the question is always, ‘Should I just take the auto-focus shot for insurance purposes knowing that it probably won’t be in focus but at least I have a picture so I can identify the bird?’ Or, ‘Should I take my time, switch to manual focus and in the time it takes, risk the bird flying away?’

Of course there is no right answer. Ideally I want the perfect shot but I have been burned a number of times, especially when photographing raptors. Taking the time to manually focus has left me with a shot of a bird flying off in the distance. Very frustrating.

DSCN9979This week I saw out of the corner of my eye flitting through the branches what I thought was a Grey Shrike-thrush, but not quite. I went the insurance shot (above) but was lucky enough that when the bird flew off it landed on the ground not too far away. A Fan-tailed Cuckoo (Cacomantis flabelliformis), often heard, rarely seen – by me at least.

If I had not taken the good picture (right) I probably would have been able to identify the cuckoo from the blurred image. Thank heavens for insurance.

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