8 bird photography tips to always keep in mind

Posted by Aim Orallo on 2/16/2021 to PHOTO TIPS
8 bird photography tips to always keep in mind

Birds are challenging to shoot for they are quick and unpredictable. Yet, shooting them brings a lot of joy. Now to get you started, here are bird photography tips worth considering.

This bird photography tutorial may apply to wildlife photography as well. These techniques are not exclusive to shooting birds. Even street photographers may even learn a thing or two from these shooting techniques. 

That being said, let’s get started.

photo by Tina Nord/Pexels

Select a subject and focus on it

Depending on the species, there are birds that flock together or there are some that like to stay alone. One technique when shooting a group of birds is to try and focus on one first. This gives you a focal point wherein you can compose and experiment with angles.

Once the subject is chosen, it is then easier to think of what to include in the frame. Should you include the rest of the group? Should you include the branches? These are just a few questions you should ask yourself before clicking the shutter.

Anticipate their next move

This tip works really well with the previous one. By focusing on one subject, you can observe and see what its next move is. As soon as you are finished studying their behavior, you can then compose your shot and take the photo once everything is set.

Anticipating their move also allows you to check your settings. There are instances where the perfect could have been taken. But because the camera is not set, the moment is missed.

photo by Joseph Phillips/Pexels

Choose your background

Try to move around and look through your camera to see if the background looks nice or not. If you love shooting at f/8 or higher, see if the sharp background works with the subject.

If you prefer shooting wide open, check if the bokeh is great. It would be a shame if the bokeh is just green and brown circles. See to it that there are elements that provide great colors when blurry.

Do not fixate yourself in one angle as well. You can try going down and see if you can take a better image. You may also go high and see if a top view of flamingoes looks nice.

After choosing the angle or the background, it is time to set the camera settings to capture birds in flight. It is a difficult task. But with a great background and angle in mind, you are already ahead in image quality.

Be part of the environment

This tip does not mean you should go around wearing camouflage attire. It simply means to stay put and be part of nature. Do not go around and move from one position to another. This can easily distract the bird and it will fly.

With that in mind, staying still and waiting for the birds to come to you gives you the perfect opportunity to nail the perfect shot.

Take advantage of the magic hour

The magic hour comes in before sunrise and after sunset. This is where the sky’s color goes from blue to red to purple in a couple of minutes. 

Shooting in this light gives a very surreal feeling to your image. The colors pop and the birds often go out during this time of the day.

It may be mentioned here in this bird photography tutorial, but this tip works well in other photography genres. Even when shooting cityscape, street, portraits, or anything, the magic hour is one of the most anticipated times to shoot.

Use different camera modes 

The aperture priority, shutter priority, or program mode are there for a reason. Just because pros use manual mode does not mean that you cannot set your camera to a different setting. In the end, people will look at your photo first and not the settings that you used.

Depending on the situation, play around with the different settings. See what works best at the time and use it to your advantage.

There are no perfect camera settings for birds in flight. However, the beauty of photography is it allows you to experiment and play with different options.


Bring a tripod with a gimbal head

When shooting with super-long telephoto lenses, a ball head tripod is not enough. The weight of these lenses is too much and the ball head restricts your movement.

Luckily, gimbal heads such as the ProMediaGear GK Katana provide excellent support for telephoto lenses. It gives you the chance to smoothly track or pan birds in flight. It also has dual position knobs for easier adjustment.

Shoot what you love 

Do not get into bird photography if you do not love what you are doing. It takes a lot of patience to be able to nail one great shot. If you are just doing it without passion, then you will be frustrated by the waiting time.

Moreover, take photos of birds that you are fascinated by. Eagles and falcons definitely look good. But do not force yourself into photographing them if you want to focus on storks and sparrows. 

Remember that these bird photography tips only serve as a guide. It would be better to go out, shoot, and learn from experience.

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