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Any tips for capturing photos of Bats

Discussion in 'Talking Pictures' started by claireb, Aug 17, 2015.

  1. claireb

    claireb New Member

    I am still quite new to photography I have got a G5 Lumix Panasonic Compact System camera not used much with moving so looking to use it alot more now finally moved in etc.

    Where I live is 2 bat boxes on the house of mine and next door, out the back you can see them as heading dark each night, flying about so fast, and was wondering what settings I need to use.

    When I tried last night was just getting the reflection of the windows and getting the camera in the photos.

    Any tips would be appreciated.
  2. Ffolrord

    Ffolrord Well-Known Member

    My tips would be to start with something more straightforward. Fast, dark objects in the dark are as dffiicult a photographic challenge as you could hope for. Just enjoy watching the bats.
  3. EightBitTony

    EightBitTony Well-Known Member

    I agree that as a subject, bats in the dark are going to be at the harder end of the scale!

    If I had to guess, it sounds like you're indoors trying to photograph through glass? In which case, your situation is even harder (since the camera will tend to focus on the reflections in the glass, and a flash may just make it worse).

    Your best bet, if it's possible, is to be outside, on a night with a lot of natural light (moonlight, with a full or near-full moon), point the camera at a spot where the bats pass by, and try taking pictures without flash, but a high ISO.

    I don't know the camera, but if it has a manual focus option, then focus manually on a point the bats fly past, and then simply try taking photos as they go through that space. You'll need a fast shutter speed to prevent motion blur, but that will force an even higher ISO. However, with moonlight, you might just be able to get away with it.

    One thing I'd try - take photographs of birds flying around in your garden in bright daylight. That's what you're basically trying to achieve but in the dark and with potentially more erratic / faster subjects - it really is going to be very hard.

    Good luck.
  4. claireb

    claireb New Member

    Thanks so much for the replies, just joined the forum today.

    Hopefully get back into the swing of taking photos and messing about with settings.

    Yeah I never really watched bats before so im enjoying doing that, I guess have go outside and try it out.

    Not sure I like to be too close to them but great to watch, so fast and flutter around!

    Great Idea I will try taking shots of the birds during the day.

  5. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    My first thoughts are:

    In flight: pretty much impossible without setting a light trap because, even if lack of light was not an issue, their flight path is so erratic and they are so small and fast tracking them would not work. They have to come to you.

    not in flight: they are protected so disturbing bats at roost is not something to do.

    It may be that the Bat Conservation Trust has some local expertise (who put up the boxes?) who can advise on behaviours and whether a light trap would be harmful - either by the light itself or the noise of the lights going off and where best to place one.

    A light trap is basically a system for triggering lights (flash) when an animal crosses a certain point. You prefocus the camera on the trigger position, set a longish exposure then wait for the subject to come.
  6. Sejanus.Aelianus

    Sejanus.Aelianus In the Stop Bath

  7. Atavar

    Atavar Well-Known Member

    Bats in flight will be very hard but we can give ourselves better odds.

    If it's a bat box and they have to get in and out of a tiny hole, then we have a point were we know for sure the bats have to travel through to get where they want to be, and also a point where they have to slow down. So coming out of the box or coming in to land, that's out best choice.

    So, that's where to have the best chance of getting the pictures, but what about light? Pointing a garden security light at the boxes is not going to win you any friends, so choosing the last hour before dusk would be a good option, a bit of twilight may just help along with high iso...

    Otherwise, experiment and enjoy. Maybe if you can identify the exact species you can find out online when they like to become active in the evening?
  8. Bejay

    Bejay Well-Known Member

    Used to photograph bats years back with a 35mm 'superzoom compact' (Samsung); the trick was to watch the bat's flights, for some reason they used to fly a figure of eight doing the crossover above our garage - so was relatively easy to predict and trip the shutter.
  9. Malcolm_Stewart

    Malcolm_Stewart Well-Known Member

  10. NikiM

    NikiM New Member

    Several years past the question, but just thought commenting for general info for others.

    We've a roost up in our roof space, and a tiny hole that several hundred pips come out of.

    I'm lucky enough to have a scope that I use for bird watching, so just set it up on the patio with a digital camera attached set in video mode. At normal emergence time there's enough light to just set it on autofocus and let the camera do the heavy lifting.

    I'd love to put a wifi camera on the windowsill, but the 30fps one I tried was pathetic, bats were just a blur!

    You could try with a digiscope and do a manual focus a few feet from emergence point, especially as many of the modern cameras have 60fps, but getting them in flight is going to be REALLY tough! Sadly all my cameras are old enough to only be 30 fps, but might try it some night as an experiment. I'm now curious :)
  11. Arun Kumar

    Arun Kumar New Member

    you can photograph bats in many different places. You don't have to come up with a plan, and you don't have to stick to one place. Most people like to take pictures while on a boat. If you have the right lenses (see above) it is a great way to capture bats as they fly high!

    Shooting at night in the woods or in the city can provide opportunities for good photography of bats. The key to patience is to adjust your camera when you see a bat.
  12. John Farrell

    John Farrell Well-Known Member

    I've never seen a bat, in the city I live in - the native bats all live in wilderness areas.
  13. Done_rundleCams

    Done_rundleCams AP Forum Ambassador to Canada

    perhaps at a Cricket or Baseball match???


  14. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    That really wasn’t worth it, was it?
    Done_rundleCams likes this.
  15. Done_rundleCams

    Done_rundleCams AP Forum Ambassador to Canada

    Oh, come on, Pete, everyone loves sports humour ;). ....and because, Claire, hasn't been back since
    the day she, initially, posted it, I don't think she'll be too upset :)

    Zou likes this.
  16. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    So jokes like: "On a Claire day you can see forever" aren't appropriate either? ;)
    Done_rundleCams likes this.
  17. IvorETower

    IvorETower Little Buttercup

    This. Even harder than photographing a white cat in a snowstorm
    Done_rundleCams likes this.

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