About a year ago I started photographing Red Kites with Spam as bait. I waited hours for a kite to dive in but if I turned around for just one second, the Spam disappeared; they were too fast. My next bait was chicken wings.
I set up a small shelter in the garden with a green tent draped across two bushes. There, with camera in hand, I patiently waited for one to strike. Coffee time was around 11am and, while away from my post, a kite would swoop in and I would miss out! Other times they would come in from the wrong direction!. I was advised they came in on the wind direction and checked the wind each time. However, my kites had other ideas, suiting themselves and the frustration continued.
I needed a cunning plan. I set my camera up on a tripod with a newly bought remote attached plus a hand held device to control the remote. I waited inside the house for hours! By coffee time my concentration would drop, the chicken was gone and I had no shot.
Then I discovered that a strong wind forces the kites to fly in from one direction – the one facing my camera! I could now pick the right days to photograph them.
Then it became a bit eerie, as if I was being watched. Every time I went in for food or drink, in came the kites to steal the chicken. I started timing the birds and built up a picture. At 9:45am one would come in and I would frustratingly cut his left wing out of the picture. Then one came in around 11:20am and I would miss his right wing off. Then between 12:30 and 13:30 it was their main feeding time – mine as well – and all this fell into place.
Now I am swinging the camera to the left at 9:45am and then to the right at 11:20am; it’s anybody’s guess at lunchtime. Shutter speeds are very fast at 2500- 3200 per sec, ISO 400 and F7.1 covers the top of the shed but pre-focused at the front. My camera is on the tripod at 9:30, moved a fraction at 11:00am and total alert at 12:30 till 1:30. Then I call it a day