First, and regardless of the tripod and gimbal being in use I needed a fast-enough shutter speed to ensure a sharp image of these twitchy subjects, but this, of course, forces the ISO up, creating unwanted noise. I do not know that my approach to the problem is the best, but it is my theory that the most crucial factor in creating a great image in these circumstances, accepting that shutter speed needs to be high enough to freeze the subject, is exposure, exposure, exposure. Absolute nailed, correct exposure.
One massive caveat here, what is correct exposure? Quite simply the one that gives the look you want! The point is to nail exposure in camera and not while editing, why? Because the one slider in post I do not want to touch (when the ISO is high) is the exposure slider. I know! I know!
Expose to the right as noise should not be exacerbated when taking exposure down is, of course, an accepted mantra, but this does not help with blown white feathers or fur, hence I have an alternative approach. With high ISO images, I find even minor adjustments using the exposure slider very quickly crumbles the image into a mess of noise and this applies to raw files too, I find that the images can look like they are made of shortbread biscuit crumbs! Don’t forget I am strictly talking about the exposure that gives me the look I want, not the exposure that attempts to render 18% grey. My goal is to avoid moving the exposure slider in post, which in turn gives me the best chance of dealing with noise in post without losing detail or sharpness, which is key in wildlife images since I want to reveal as much as possible the glorious detail and texture in our wildlife. Sharpness is also perceptive and this technique of nailing the exposure to provide me with the look I want helps greatly with perceptive sharpness as I can retain more detail and texture.