I have developed a keen interest in photographing animals since the arrival of my new camera – mainly because it gives me the potential to capture a really sharp close-up shot. I have always loved the wonderful expressions that cats and dogs can make, but I have a soft spots for chickens – they are such characters.
I have 10 bantams myself, but they have been reluctant to wander about during the cold weather, and so have not produced many photo opportunities…. I therefore decided to take a few shots of a friends ‘chooks’ who are behind a thick wire fence similar to that which you would find at the zoo. I thought it would be good practice for my upcoming visit to see the wild animals – teaching me some techniques for ensuring sharp and interesting images.
It was a cold, dull day – so I had to master the right ISO, shutter and aperture settings to get enough light and detail. My main objective was to control depth of field – so I took the shots with AP set and my 24-105mm lens attached. This was to achieve a nice blurred, uncluttered background and get some shots on maximum zoom. I didn’t want to use a tripod – as I knew the chickens would be moving around fast – and I needed the freedom to adjust my position, keeping the front of the lens as close to the wire fence as possible. I managed to use low ISO settings and still achieve a shutter speed of 1/100, 1/125, as I was using the largest aperture the lens could allow – F4.
The chickens were certainly lively and I started by having difficulty getting their attention. The lure of fresh green grass got them interested – but they were then all too close to the camera. My first few shots were ok – but I was missing out on their wonderful expressions… I remembered the trick that I had used with mine in the past, and started to make some (very poor) chicken ‘clucking’ noises. This did the trick and got the chooks to lift their necks up high and still, while they tried to fathom out where the strange noises were coming from. I was lucky enough to get a few classic chicken poses and practise blurring the fence. It was such an easy way of having lots of fun and learning some new techniques at the same time !
Here are my favourite shots of the ‘girls’……..