Taking pictures of a nocturnal bird at night, Large-tailed Nightjar with a small torchlight.

Taking pictures of a nocturnal bird at night, Large-tailed Nightjar with a small torchlight.

Taking pictures of a nocturnal bird at night, Large-tailed Nightjar with a small torchlight.

One early evening in my friend’s garden, I noticed a call of the Long-tailed Nightjar nearby. I discovered that a bird was perching on the tip of the trunk of the dead palm tree. In my excitement, I went too close and flushed the bird away. Determined to capture the bird, I asked my friend to alert me when the bird called again.

A few weeks later, I got an alert at 9:30 pm that the bird was back. However, I was busy that evening. I told my friend to keep an eye out for the nightjar the next few nights around the same time. True enough, the next evening, while I was about to get ready to sleep, my friend alerted me at 10:15 pm.

Taking pictures of a nocturnal bird at night, Large-tailed Nightjar with a small torchlight.

I quickly packed my gear and decided not to use flash but a small LED torchlight to capture the Large-tailed Nightjar. When I arrived, I noted that the Large-tailed Nightjar call was coming from the same direction as weeks ago. However, I could not pinpoint the bird visually as it was dark.

I mounted my camera on the tripod and aimed in the general direction. I turned on my LED torchlight to search for the bird the moment it made the call again. Within seconds, I located the bird handsomely perching on the tip of the dead palm tree. Bingo. My camera could focus on the bird with the help of the LED torchlight, something that was not technically possible many a few years ago.

The shutter speed was 1/5 seconds on ISO 12,800. Processed through DXO Pure Raw and converted into DNG before importing to Adobe Lightroom for cropping and further sharpening.

Taking pictures of a nocturnal bird at night, Large-tailed Nightjar with a small torchlight.

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