That Sunday evening I was strolling with my Canon EOS 5D mark II fitted with Canon EF 300mm f/2.8 L IS USM & Canon EF 1.4x II Extender. Focusing with 5D Mark II was not as efficient as 7D. It used to hunt before getting proper focus. I saw small bush fire nearby. People here are famous for lighting fire to any thing they see that is dry. We tend to burn dry leaves, plastic and all substances which are not suitable for recycling under the impression that it is the best method of disposal. Agni, god of fire in Hindu Mythology is supposed to digest anything you offer. Due to this we not only destroy precious dry leaves which would have decayed and enriched our top soil, but also pollute our atmosphere with harmful by-products of plastic like dioxin.
My birding ground is a large vacant government land at Bondel, Mangalore. Because of frequent fire it is invaded by species of grass called fountain grass (Pennisetum species). This is a large variety of grass which grows on clumps. Even though this grass takes advantage of fire they are a carbon fixing perennial bunch grass that is native to open, scrubby habitats in East Africa, tropical Africa, Middle East and SW Asia. It has been introduced to many parts of the world as an ornamental plant. It is drought-tolerant, grows fast, reaches 1 m (3.3 ft) in height, and has many purple, plumose flower spikes. They are favorites of several small birds like Munias which feed on them.
The bush fire I saw was a very low intensity and got extinguished very fast. It nevertheless drove all the insects like Grass Hoppers away from the patch which was getting burnt. This caught attention of the hovering kites which landed there to grab them. I got few Small Indian Kite or Pariah Kites (Milvus migrans govinda) which are the commonest urban kites we see around here. Small Indian Kites are opportunistic hunters and are more likely to scavenge. They spend a lot of time soaring and gliding in thermals in search of food. Their angled wing and distinctive forked tail make them easy to identify. This kite is widely distributed through the temperate and tropical parts of Eurasia and parts of Australasia, with the temperate region populations tending to be migratory. Several subspecies are recognized and formerly with their own English names. The European populations are small, but the South Asian population is very large.
They grabbed few insects and flew away squabbling among themselves as soon as the fire was extinguished. When I looked at the sky I spotted a man made Kingfisher. What I am referring is Kingfisher airlines flight VT-KAH. This Aerospatiale/Alenia 72-500 plane was passing just overhead. I had opportunity to compose myself and take the belly shot of the aircraft in just the nick of time. I was using Canon EF 2X II Extender on Canon EF 300mm f/2.8 L IS USM mounted on my Canon EOS 5D mark II.
As the flight passed I could see a bright waxing gibbous moon on the eastern sky. I also saw few Brahminy Kites (Haliastur indus) soaring in front of the moon. Light was perfect as it was emanating from the setting sun in the west. I wanted to capture a moon with kite photo. Patiently waiting for the right moment was difficult as the sun was dipping down in the western sky. Finally after several close shots of Brahminy Kites without moon in the background, I was able to capture one which came close to my imagination how a bird soaring high in the sky should be presented in from of the majestic Moon.
Unfortunately this shot I got the bird in sharp focus but moon was out of focus despite using f/11 to gain depth of field. If I had calculated and used Hyper focal distance and tried I think I could have got both bird as well as moon in sharp focus. That is an experiment I have to try with next such moon day.
Here is a composite which included a sharp picture of kite and sharp picture of moon merged in Photoshop as I envisioned I would capture. The technique is simple, I exported both the individual images as layers in Photoshop then masked the bird and placed it on top of the moon photo layer. This is the final result in the form how I really wanted the photograph.
EXIF info – Aperture : ƒ/8 | Camera : Canon EOS 5D Mark II | Taken : 16 January, 2011 | Flash fired : no | Focal length : 420mm | ISO : 400 | Shutter speed : 1/800s | Images and content Copyright © Krishna Mohan. Please contact me to purchase prints or for image publication license.