Malachite Kingfisher

Corythornis cristatus
Story behind the Shot ~ “Fishing in Puddles”

It was an overcast, rainy morning at Marievale Bird Sanctuary and many a photographer may have had good reason to stay at home. My love for being in nature and away from buildings and lights, meant it was an easy choice to make the journey. I have also learnt that these mornings, especially if the cloud cover is not too thick and is letting in some light, can make for great photographic opportunities, as the birds behave differently (often more relaxed) and the light can create a different mood to the images on offer.
The morning started with my usual wandering about, looking for a scene or possible opportunity where a “habitat shot” may present itself. As I drive or walk around or sit in a hide, I am constantly changing my camera settings to suit the light and possible opportunities that are presenting themselves. I prefer to shoot on AV and most often adjust my ISO, F-stop and exposure to ensure I have the right frame rate, depth of field and light to get the potential shots on hand.
I often see malachite kingfishers along the “old bus stop” hide road that passes through the back of Marievale Bird Sanctuary, and have spent many hours trying to capture their essence and beauty. This morning was no different and I soon picked up a bright flash of blue whizzing in front of me. Knowing these little guys behaviour is always helpful, and with this in mind, I knew I would have a good chance of catching up with him and seeing where he had perched.
As luck would have it, I soon re-located him. He was perched not more than a few inches off the ground, right next to the road and was looking to fish in one of the puddles that had formed in the road itself. The scene looked beautiful, as he had landed on a striking, creative perch, which hung into the road; and the diffuse, overcast light was illuminating his striking Kingfisher colours. I knew I had a scene in front of me that just might work.
There were only two problems, I was not close enough and the photograph, if taken from the car, would not reveal the scene to the audience nor provide the required composition. To solve this problem, I had to drive up to the kingfisher (close enough to get a full frame “habitat shot”, approximately 3 to 4 big paces away), open my car door (very slowly), disembark (very slowly) and lie down (very slowly) using the car door as my hide.

Amazingly, he stayed put and allowed me to take a multitude of photographs! Not an everyday occurrence! Being given this time by a bird is incredibly helpful, especially when you are looking to create a habitat shot, as besides showing off the bird’s environment, you want to capture a creative composition and you want to ensure the bird is sharp in the frame. (The latter point being critical if you want to print your shot on a large canvas as well as draw attention to the bird as the main subject).
Experimenting with different angles, heights and camera settings, as well as focusing and refocusing on the bird to ensure sharpness, become the name of the game.

So why this particular frame? I selected this particular photograph (out of 100s taken) as I really liked the angle of the kingfisher, showing off all his different textures and colour shades. I like how he stands out and is framed by the perch and the grasses. I found the perch to be both beautiful and interesting. I liked the unique, low angle, as it is not often you can lie down and still photograph a malachite at eye level. And I liked the out of focus puddle and road in the background, as it tells the story of this little bird and his fishing tactics.
The camera, lens & settings:
Canon 5d mkiv | 400 f2.8 II | ISO 1250 | f-stop 3.5 | Exp 0 | 1/400s | Partial Metering mode | No flash


Malachite Kingfisher / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, South Africa / June 2018 Malachite Kingfisher / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, Nigel, Gauteng, South Africa / January 2018 Malachite Kingfisher / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, South Africa Malachite Kingfisher / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, Nigel, Gauteng, South Africa / April 2018 Malachite Kingfisher / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, Nigel, Gauteng, South Africa / April 2018 Malachite Kingfisher / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, South Africa / May 2018 Malachite Kingfisher / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, Nigel, Gauteng, South Africa / January 2018 Malachite Kingfisher / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, South Africa / June 2018 Malachite Kingfisher / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, South Africa / May 2018 Malachite Kingfisher / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, Nigel, Gauteng, South Africa / April 2018 Malachite Kingfisher / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, Nigel, Gauteng, South Africa / March 2018 Malachite Kingfisher / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, South Africa / June 2018 Malachite Kingfisher / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, South Africa Malachite Kingfisher / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, Nigel, Gauteng, South Africa / January 2018 Malachite Kingfisher / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, South Africa Malachite Kingfisher / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, South Africa / May 2018 Malachite Kingfisher / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, Nigel, Gauteng, South Africa / April 2018 Malachite Kingfisher / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, Nigel, Gauteng, South Africa / January 2018 Malachite Kingfisher / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, Nigel, Gauteng, South Africa / January 2018 Malachite Kingfisher / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, Nigel, Gauteng, South Africa / January 2018 Malachite Kingfisher / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, Nigel, Gauteng, South Africa / January 2018 Malachite Kingfisher / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, Nigel, Gauteng, South Africa / January 2018 Malachite Kingfisher / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, Nigel, Gauteng, South Africa / January 2018 Malachite Kingfisher / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, South Africa / May 2018 Malachite Kingfisher / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, South Africa Malachite Kingfisher / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, South Africa / May 2018 Malachite Kingfisher / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, Nigel, Gauteng, South Africa / January 2018 Malachite Kingfisher / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, Nigel, South Africa / 09 May 2015 Malachite Kingfisher / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, Nigel, Gauteng, South Africa / January 2018 Malachite Kingfisher / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, Nigel, Gauteng, South Africa / January 2018 Malachite Kingfisher / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, Nigel, Gauteng, South Africa / January 2018 Malachite Kingfisher / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, South Africa / June 2018 Malachite Kingfisher / Augrabies National Park, South Africa / 09 May 2013 Malachite Kingfisher / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, Nigel, South Africa / 09 May 2015 Malachite Kingfisher (Longirostris) / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, South Africa Malachite Kingfisher / Marievale Bird Sanctuary, Nigel, Gauteng, South Africa / January 2018 Malachite Kingfisher (Cyanostigma) / Shamvura, Northern Namibia
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