I love, love, love the lilac-breasted roller. It’s a gorgeous bird and, lucky for me, one that I often see on safari. I’ve taken hundreds of photos of this bird but until now my only worthwhile images have been of rollers at rest on a tree. I’ve tried to catch them in flight but every time it was, sadly, an epic fail: too blurry, missed altogether, wings cut off…Wahhhh…
But each time I go to Africa my photographic skills get a little better and one fine day on my recent trip to the Mara Triangle, SCORE! A roller in flight!
What’s the trick? Apparently with one successful roller shot I can offer advice (I have shot other birds in flight, lol)…. Make sure that you have a fast shutter speed 1/1000th second or faster. Have your Aperature set around f8 so that it has a wider depth of field. Place the bird in a corner or all the way left or right of the image when composing so that there’s space for the bird to fly into the frame. It’s tricky because often you don’t know which way they’re going to go but if you’re lucky it will fly straight one way or the other, keeping it in your plane of focus. My first reaction was to follow the bird in flight the second it lifted off from a tree. DON’T. It’s counter intuitive, but stay still, just start snapping away and let the bird fly through the image on its own. And if all goes well, you’ll nail your shot!