How the Tree swallow-ed ?

Outline of this post

  • Story behind 
  • Photo with photography techniques used
  • Notes or tips to be considered 


Last week Saturday the 22nd, while my way back from Oak Hammock Marsh, I spotted a giant bald eagle feeding on its pray.  I puled the car a side, and in a moment I got ready with my camera, it flew far away. Considering the low light conditions, had decided to come back again to the location.

Exactly a week after I went again this time with Stephanie in search of Eagle. My bad luck, it wasn’t seen even after waiting long time, may be it went to another territory. But I had plenty of time, so we started hiking through various short- trails (Click) around and took various bird pictures including American coot, Geese, Mallard duck, Yellow headed Black bird, Red winged Black bird and Grackle (Click here for picture feed). Along with aforementioned birds we also spotted the the bird with most interesting  behavior called “Tree Swallow” this post is all about it.

Well, long story short, these birds follow certain pattern, may be for every 5 minutes they fly away from the tree, and comes back after some time and again after 5 minutes they fly away. They are very fast moving and hard to capture individual bird, so, I almost spent about 20-30 minutes to get the below picture of birds sitting on the tree branches, it almost look like leaves all along from far distance. The same picture was also became editor`s favorite in National Geographic Your shot (Click here for picture). Though I went for Eagle with open mind and curiosity of exploring things around could able to create one nice picture.


Photography technique

Tree swallow birds on branches of dried tree
  1. Lighting: It was sunset and getting beautiful golden hour light to get that light on tree and in sky, I positioned myself in a way that my camera facing south.
  2. Camera & settings: I used Canon 7D-MarkII coupled with Tamron 150-600 lens. The focal length was 150mm at F8 with shutter speed 1/2500 and ISO-800. It was hand held shot in AI-Servo shooting mode. To capture warm colors, I had cloudy white balance setting in evaluative metering mode.
  3. Post production: Picture was captured in RAW and processed in Light room with basic adjustment of White-Black balance, shadow and highlight. This is original composition picture was not cropped.

Notes or Tips

  • In my experience, when you are in field always look around for nice moments
  • Consider light and its angle before you take picture
  • Always check your camera setting before you start shooting (specially WB and ISO)
  • Play with white balance and always get multiple pictures, to make sure one would have better focus among
  • Try to use tripod for better quality pictures.


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Thank you


2 thoughts on “How the Tree swallow-ed ?

  1. It’s a beautiful shot!
    Why did you choose f/8 and 1/2500? The subject is far away, so a wider aperture would have worked. Since the swallows are on the tree, a slower shutter speed, around 1/500 would have worked. Both would reduce the ISO and hence noise?
    Don’t want to appear to be snarky. I ve recently begun shooting birds with telephoto lenses and always on the lookout to deconstruct good images and learn.


    1. Hi, Thanks for stopping by. You have asked very good questions let me answer one by one.
      1. I used F8 to get higher depth of field, so that whole tree including all birds will be in focus. Also f8 is sweet spot of my lens, I get best results.
      2. I was standing relatively close to the subject ( at 150mm focal length), and it was hand held shot, so I have higher shutter speed (SS).
      3. You are very much right about the 1/500 SS and low ISO, however I tend to always use 1/1200 & above SS when shooting moving birds for best results & up-to 1600 ISO my camera gives good result.
      4. Another reason to shoot at 1/2500 SS is that, I wanted to capture 3 shots one while swallows coming to tree, second one while sitting and third while flying away (I have not included those picture in this post), since their moment was very quick and they are tiny I went up for 1/2500.
      Hope I answered your questions, thanks again for stopping by & Happy Birding

      Liked by 1 person

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