A (Complete) Beginners Guide to Bird Photography - Blog Lorelei Web Design

A (Complete) Beginners Guide to Bird Photography

To photograph a bird, you need to be like a bird. Birds react very quickly to any movements around them. So, when you’re in range, you need to be ready with your camera and react very quickly lest you should miss your shot. This is where a high speed dSLR with a fast lens will help. So, move slowly, and react quickly.


Aim for the Eye

A picture that is brilliantly framed, with a great subject and wonderful colors, but low sharpness is of no value. On the other hand, a photo that is nothing great in terms of subject, but has decent framing and is sharp, is much better. The key to a good picture is sharpness. When taking pictures of wildlife, especially birds, try and get the eye as sharp as possible, even if you end up getting the feathers slightly less sharp. This is because whenever you look at a photo of an animal, bird or even a person, your attention is automatically directed to the eyes as they display a lot of emotion.

To get the sharpness that you need, try and use a smaller aperture (a higher f number). Most lenses offer sharpest pictures in the range of f/8 – f/11. Also, since you’ll often be shooting in the middle of lots of trees and leaves, use manual focus wherever possible because the camera will find it hard to focus in these conditions. Also, if your camera has RAW support, use it. This way you’ll be able to get more detail in your picture, and make adjustments to white balance and exposure later during post processing.

Capture the Moment

When observing animals and birds, there come moments when you stand there looking, spellbound. The courtship displays of birds of paradise, the mating of Albatross, a Swift feeding its young in mid-air. These are once in a lifetime moments – endeavor to capture them. Of course there are other stunning shots that are easier to capture, like an eagle swooping down on its prey, a hummingbird hovering in mid-air to savor the sweet nectar of a flower. These are moments that make priceless pictures, and these are moments you should try your best to capture.

A couple of other things you should keep in mind when clicking birds are:

  • Don’t try too hard to approach nests when there are eggs/young. There is a chance that the bird might abandon the nest.
  • When capturing birds in flight, use high shutterspeeds and boost your ISO if needed. Try to take shots from above or eye level.
  • Where the background is distracting, use a wider aperture to blur the background. This particularly lends a nice feel if there are leaves/grass in the background, giving it a soft green look.
  • Know your camera well, so that you know what settings to use where.

That is it for this tutorial. This should give you a jump start with bird photography. Remember, you will not get instant results. So be patient, keep practicing, and eventually you’ll get there!