Tips to Photograph Birds

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. March 2, 2017
Tips to Photograph Birds

To take stunning pictures it is not enough to have a good camera or phone. Taking a picture is easy - taking a great one, not so much. The final result depends on the angle, light, and the way you approach your subject.

Photographing animals is complex, as they are almost always in motion. This is especially true in the case of birds, spectacular animals who fly across the skies and who always draw our attention. Bird are born models; they catch the wind currents naturally and elegantly, and when they stop they look like they are posing for the lens in a very sophisticated and stoic manner.

If you love birds and want to take better pictures of them, stay with us at AnimalWised. In this article, we'll share the best basic tips to photograph birds.

You may also be interested in: 10 Tips to Photograph Dogs

Be patient

Our first and most important tip to photograph birds is to have patience. Many people quit their passion because they aren't able to wait as long as it takes for the bird to stop at the proper position or for the light to be perfect.

If you want to succeed in bird photography, you must cultivate your patience. In many cases you will have to walk for hours in search of the most beautiful birds. You will have to go to them; birds will never come to you. Still, you must be ready to snap a good picture if a bird happens to stop by, as if it want to be photographed. When it is time to take the picture, stay dead still and do not move.

You will have to take lots of pictures, and select the best afterwards. For a single stunning photograph of a bird, you'll probably have to discard hundreds.

Tips to Photograph Birds - Be patient

Get as close as you can

What you really want to capture is the bird, not lots of landscape and a tiny bird in the middle. Unless you have a really good lens that allows you to get the details of the bird, you will have to get as close as you can to your subject. Move as stealthily as possible and approach the bird.

Having good photography equipment clearly helps, but it is more important - and cheaper - to learn the art of approaching birds and finding the best light. On the other hand, if the bird is very close, you will need to give it some personal space - you probably don't want to get attacked!

Take light into account

Light is crucial to take good pictures, regardless of the subject. When you practice photographing birds, you will notice how your snaps get better as you learn to find the best light. This is especially important with these animals, as they are always moving.

In bird photography, the sky is almost always a large part of the image. Try taking pictures at sunrise or sunset, when you will have a wider range of beautiful and interesting colors and the light will enter more smoothly than if you take snaps at noon, when it will be harder and more direct.

Try to get the light from the side or rear to prevent unnecessary light bumps and supersaturation. You can also use of trees to achieve interesting shadows and backgrounds.

Tips to Photograph Birds - Take light into account

Liven up your photos

Our fourth tip to photograph birds is to use your creativity and take a few risks. Attempt to capture the birds while they are playing, singing or flying. If you picture them always and only while sitting or resting it can get a bit boring.

Some birds are stunningly beautiful even at rest, but it is always more interesting to see birds in action. Focus on the bird's eyes - they are the window of the soul, after all - and you will see how your photos come to life. Capture the birds as living subjects, not as objects.

Tips to Photograph Birds - Liven up your photos

Equipment and settings

Photographing birds in a professional manner can be very expensive, but not impossible. To get to that level, you must start small first. Lenses are very important to capture birds: you can find basic long-focus lenses priced at between 100 and 300 dollars with a 75 to 300 mm range; if you want more quality and scope, or a lens from the best brands, the price will increase.

Once you have your lens to photograph birds, you have to place your camera settings. Their goal is the stabilization of the photo. We suggest:

  • Diagram (f /... amount of light entering) open. That is, pick the smallest number possible. The greater the light, the more stability.
  • You want to freeze the animal, so set the shutter speed as fast as possible. The highest number the better, at least 1/800.
  • Choose AF (autofocus) if you don't want any hassle focusing the scene.
  • Burst mode: birds require many photos, one of them will surely come out well.
Tips to Photograph Birds - Equipment and settings

If you want to read similar articles to Tips to Photograph Birds, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.

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