During my first sortie of 2022, I stopped by a particular trail where multiple Whiskered Treeswifts took off and landed on the same perch. I took the opportunity to grab my tripod to photograph the said Treeswifts out in the open. This gave me multiple perched shots of the Treeswift, but what I really want is a landing or take-off photo of the Whiskered Treeswift.
For this to happen, I had to optimize my camera settings to prioritize speed.
One crucial element is to set a quick shutter speed. 1/3200 is the safe spot for me to get sharp images consistently, but for this particular bird, I had to make sure to stop it down a bit faster to 1/4000. Swifts and Treeswifts are notorious for being small, erratic, and highly agile in their movements, which is why going up to the four-digit mark of your shutter speed setting is crucial. I also like to stop down my aperture to focus on a broader area. If I were only stuck in f/5.6 (the maximum aperture of the 600mm f/4 with a 1.4x teleconverter), I wouldn’t be able to get the whole bird as tact sharp as I wanted to. Lastly, I had to bump up the ISO to compensate for the higher speed. Depending on the camera, ISO settings entering the four-digit mark could be terrible. So to mitigate this, I rely on Adobe’s Noise Reduction setting in Lightroom to minimize noise as much as possible.
With the updated settings in place and my tripod firmly planted and directed at the Treeswift, I patiently waited for the Whiskered Treeswift to fly and return on the same branch. Once the Treeswift flew, I immediately readied my Camera with my finger firmly hovering over the AF-ON button waiting for the Treeswift’s arrival. Once the bird flew into the frame, I blazed through the shutter like there was no tomorrow. I reviewed my pictures, and I was delighted with the final result. Multiple frames of the Whiskered Treeswift landing with its bright azure wings breaking through the air.
Photographed by Vinz Pascua
Hemiprocne comata major
Least Concern, Philippine Resident Subspecies
Subic Bay Rainforest, January 2022
Canon EOS R5 + Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R + Canon EF 600mm F/4L IS II USM + Canon EF 1.4x II Extender
Wimberley WH-200 Head + Gitzo GT2545T Tripod
ISO 6400, f/8, 1/4000, Manual Mode, Spot Metering
Wildlife Photographer, Graphic Designer, and Digital Artist for Haring Ibon. He’s also an active member of the Wild Bird Photographers of the Philippines (WBPP) since 2020.
Visit www.vinzpascua.com for his photography, art, and design works.