It has been a very cold winter this year, with more than one morning’s temperature starting close to 0˚C . In fact it is the first time that I have seen frost in the riverbeds in the 11 years that I have been at Sabi Sabi. But this morning I woke up and did not have to put on a jacket. Stepping outside I could feel that summer is in the air. The Knob-thorns are about to burst into yellow pom poms and the Marula trees are full of buds. But the real sign is that the swallows are back and are already busy building this year’s nests. There is a group of swallows that nests in the eaves of Bush Lodge and year after year they return. This morning I happened to see them racing between the waterhole in front of Bush Lodge and the lodge’s roof. Each time they would arrive with a mouthful of mud that was carefully dropped onto the corner of their nest and one drop at a time they built their nests.
To capture a swallow in flight with a mouthful of mud has always been something that I wanted to capture. But as you probably know they move so fast; it was not going to be easy. Firstly I would need to get the camera to focus and then make sure that I could freeze the action. This would take lots of practice. You need to be able to pan with the bird and anticipate its flight path. Most importantly you need your camera’s shutter to be no slower that 1/2000 of a second. Anything slower and you will not freeze the bird and focus will be impossible. I set my aperture at f8 so that I had lots of depth thus allowing a better chance of focus. Lastly the ISO; well this will all depend on how much light you have, but you need to make sure you achieve the previous two settings. Then it’s all about putting the sun over your shoulder and taking lots of pictures, very frustrating at times but rewarding when it works. Good luck!