Tips For Photographing Birds

Photographing birds is a fascinating and exciting hobby. Learn how you can successfully take prize-winning pictures of birds by following a few tips.

Photographing birds is a fascinating and exciting hobby for the nature enthusiast. However, effectively capturing a bird on film can be quite challenging since birds are quick and active. If you would like to know how you can photograph birds successfully, here are some tips to get you started.

Good equipment is necessary to obtain the best photographs. You will need a reliable pair of binoculars and a spotting scope. You will also need a suitable camera with a 300mm lens for large birds and a 600-mm lens for small birds. A telephoto zoom lens can also be used with high-speed film. Another option is to choose a single lens reflex 35mm camera with a fast film. Digital cameras can also be used but they are expensive and cannot offer continuous high speed shooting. Autofocus is also not as fast with digital cameras as traditional film cameras. You should also include a tripod and gunstock-style shoulder mount in your equipment. These accessories are used to steady the camera when you are trying to take pictures.

Camouflage is another very important consideration. Wear clothing that blends easily with the natural coloring of the landscape. Dull colors, for example dark green, brown or grey is preferable. If possible, wear headgear that disguises your face and makes your appearance less obvious to the birds. Wear lightweight, rugged shoes that are not squeaky but have a soft tread. Try to blend with your surroundings by moving slowly, standing still frequently, and generally keeping a low profile. Sit on a low chair, kneel or lie on the ground or use a blind to shield yourself from the birds. You can purchase blinds from photographic supply stores. You can also hide yourself behind bushes, bulrushes, trees, sand dunes, or any other features of the landscape.



The next important consideration is the choice of a locale for your photography. This all depends on the kinds of birds that interest you. For example if you were interested in shorebirds, your choice of location would be the beach. If you have a general interest in all species of birds, find a habitat that supports a variety of birds. This could be your backyard, a city park, a pond, the woods etc. Visit the site in the early morning or late afternoon and choose a spot that will give you a view of the surrounding area. Be prepared to practice patience and persistence while you are waiting for the perfect bird to photograph.

Observation is also an essential element for photographing birds. Observe the actions of the birds, check when they get nervous, when they are preoccupied with feeding, what distractions are around the site, and if they are watching you. You should also look at the birds or bird through the viewfinder of your camera and observe the entire picture. The view should not include clutter in the foreground or background. This could be trash, vehicles, fencing or any other object that could spoil your picture. Observe the lighting, especially glare. Early and late hours provide the best natural lighting and eliminate the problem of excessive brightness.

Strive to be original and realistic in your photography. Try to take pictures of birds at different angles or while they are doing something unusual or interesting. Examples of this could be preening, aggressive behavior, splashing, flying etc. Properly expose the bird not the background and take the picture at the bird's eye level. Create a realistic appearance by making the most of natural light. Avoid using a flash or artificial light, as this will diminish natural contours, highlights, and shadows that contribute to the spontaneous image of your pictures. Birds do not remain motionless for a long time. Therefore it is important that you take many pictures of the same bird or group of birds in rapid succession.

Implementing these tips will give you successful experiences in photographing birds. All it takes is a little perseverance, patience and an awareness of the presence of birds. It will be definitely worth the effort and you will be rewarded with beautiful prize-winning pictures.

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