There’s no animal on Earth that offers such a range of colors, actions and behaviors
as birds, which is why they are the most dynamic photography subjects. Not only
are birds readily available in locations around the world, but they also give you the
chance to practice photography as well as capture some great images. If the idea of
photographing birds seems overwhelming, here are some tips to help ease you in.
Learn About Your Subject
I am a photographer who’s still learning the advanced techniques, but my
knowledge of birds gives me an extra insight into the subject. Understanding
behaviors, species and personalities will better help you capture the essence of
a specific bird and give you perfectly natural shots. If you’re interested in bird
photography, I recommend connecting with a local birding group or wildlife
organizations to learn more about the species in your area.
Photo by DeusXFlorida
Get Appropriate Equipment
To create some of the highest quality pictures with extreme close-ups, you’ll
need pretty powerful equipment. If you’re just starting out and want the simplest
equipment possible while still getting the best shots, consider getting a DSLR and
a telephoto lens that’s at least 300mm with a 1.4X converter. This is a good starting
lens because it allows you to get very close. If you want more detail with smaller
birds, you’ll probably want to opt for something along the lines of 600mm.
Practice with Birds in Your Yard
Once you have the right equipment and some knowledge of birds, practice is the
best way to learn more. Start out by photographing birds at your backyard feeder or
a backyard birdhouse. This will give you the chance to try out different techniques
to see what works and what doesn’t. It also gives you the opportunity to practice
without feeling pressured by going somewhere far to photograph exotic birds.
Get as Close as Possible
When you’re photographing birds, you should try to get as close as you can both
physically and in the image. Of course, you don’t want to disturb the bird so it flies
away, but images that prominently feature the birds are much more dynamic and
Photo by deanbkrafft
Take a Lot of Pictures
Movement is perhaps your biggest enemy when photographing birds. Birds are
living creatures that move unpredictably at lightning speed. They won’t stay in one
place for very long, so you want to take as many pictures as you can because there
won’t be very many keepers. Sometimes it takes dozens of shots before you get a
good image, but don’t get discouraged.
Think About the Composition of the Image
One of the basic tenets of photography is to avoid putting the subject in the middle
of the frame. Instead, consider other objects in the frame, such as the background,
trees or branches. These things could take the focus away from your subject. You
should also allow space for movement. For example, if you’re taking a picture of a
bird that’s about to fly, give the bird some space for its direction of travel.
Have Fun and Experiment
Most important is to have fun, be bold and try new things. It might take a lot of
practice, but you’ll have a collection of fantastic bird photos in no time.
Timothy Martinez Jr. is a freelance writer and intermediate photographer who writes
about bird feeders for the official blog of Backyard Chirper.