If you want to capture the much sought after achievement of taking a picture of a bat mid-flight, there are quite a few vital tips that you’ll need to follow. First, you’ll have to understand a bat’s routine so you can track it down. Then you’ll have to purchase the hardware your camera requires to get these shots. Finally, you’ll have to be ready to be patient; it may take more than one night to get a photo of a bat in flight. Once you understand all these things and figure out where local bats nest and what type of bats they are, you can begin trying to get the photo.
Bats & Tips for Tracking Them in the U.S.
Bats come in five varieties: insectivorous, nectarivorous, carnivorous, frugivorous, and sanguivorous. In the greater U.S., you’re likely to come across insectivorous bats which tend to be very fast and relatively small. The most common of which is the little brown bat. Although harder to photograph and track due to their size and inconsistent diet, you should expect to come across these bats and prepare to do so. Although carnivorous and frugivorous bats are generally larger and slower, it’s extremely rare to find these bats in the United States. Nectarivorous bats are uncommon in the United States but they’re easy to catch. Bats are nocturnal so they’ll be sleeping in caves during the day but once the sun goes down they’ll be flying around looking for food. The best time to find bats is during dawn or dusk because, generally, they’ll fly out of their caves in groups and be fairly easy to spot. If you believe you stumbled across a bat habitat, look out for their excrement or guano to confirm, it’s white-colored.
Required Camera Hardware
To take a photo of a bat there are a few things your camera will need to take a quality photo of a small figure in the dark. You’ll need a mid to long-range zoom lens (100-400mm), an attachable flash, a flash extender, and both a tripod and remote release will be extremely useful. The lens, attachable flash, and flash extender are absolutely essential. The zoom lens will enable you to retain quality as you zoom in or crop the photo as you edit it later. The external flash is important to ensure that your camera will have a light that’s bright enough and the flash extender will enhance the flash effect, making the photo look considerably more in focus. The tripod and remote release aren’t essential but without them, it will certainly be a lot harder to sit in one place and not ruin your camera’s angle or focus.
Time to Get a Photo!
Set up a feeder near a bat cave or an area where bats frequently visit, set up your camera, and get ready to wait! The bait will depend upon what kind of bat you’re trying to take a photo of. For nectarivorous nectar, for insectivorous insects or bat houses, for carnivorous meat, and frugivorous fruit. Once your feeder is set up, turn on the autofocus mode, set up your tripod and remote release, and get ready to take a picture of a bat!