I visited one of my favorite Lake Erie haunts yesterday, Huron, Ohio and its famed municipal pier. This is stop #46 on the Lake Erie Birding Trail, and one of the lake's true birding hotspots. I've been coming here for many, many years, and have seen lots of great birds from this pier.
My hope was for bad weather, and my plan was to perch by the lighthouse at the pier's end and conduct a "sea watch". Rough weather in November can produce lots of scoters, big numbers of gulls, and perhaps jaegers or other rarities such as Red Phalarope. Alas, the weather was too nice - calm seas and very Indian Summerish, with temps ultimately hitting 60F. Nonetheless, I trundled out the 6/10th mile long pier to the end, with much gear in hand, to see what might happen.
Shooting sitting gulls isn't exactly difficult. They're pretty big, and usually relatively unwary. Thus, to avoid gull shots that look like 10,000 other gull shots, I like to try and catch them doing something interesting. If you wait and watch long enough, they will.
Flying gulls are a few notches up the difficulty scale from perched gulls, but still not too tough to pull off. They are often predictable in their flight patterns, and depending on the wind, frequently fly with a rather languid manner. However, capturing good images of certain of their aerial hijinks can be hard.
An adult Ring-billed Gull drops to the water.
Much of one's success with shooting flying birds, gulls or otherwise, depends on how the camera is set up, and the type of lens that is used. A fast shutter speed is essential, obviously. I shot this image and those that follow at 1/2000 of a second, give or take.
Watching birds' behavior, even very common species, can sometimes reveal interesting opportunities to make out of the ordinary photographs.