Welcome to the Bird Photography edition of Dramatic Insights! Please support our efforts and fav this article by clicking the
in the top left corner.
This issue is full of useful tips and helpful advice from some our top members, so I invite you to grab a cup of tea and enjoy!!
Wanted: Amazing Black & White shots!!!
Our next edition of Dramatic Insights will focus on Black & White Photography! If you would like your work to be considered for this exciting article just comment on the current poll at #Dramatic-Photography
Please note that you must be a member of Dramatic Photography to participate and all applicants will be qualified by their body of work on the topic.
was created to showcase high quality photography with a special flare for the dramatic! We have a lot to offer talented photographers including the opportunity to be a Featured Artist in an issue of Dramatic Insights, Daily front page features, Weekly Member Features, and Valuable Exposure.
Dramatic Insights is a bi-weekly publication featuring #Dramatic-Photography
members selected work along with insights into their world behind the camera.
Special thanks to our Featured Artists in this Edition for sharing their knowledge and inspiration. :
Anyone who follows bird and wildlife photography certainly knows the few basic rules when it comes to birds/wildlife photography: preparation, patience, practice, perseverance and respect. Although you never can stress enough those aspects
I will try to cover more the technical part of bird photography.
Desirable Equipment and Shooting Techniques
Probably the most important tool in birds and wildlife photography in general is a spotting scope or decent pair of binoculars.
When it comes to camera gear for most birds a lens in the 200-300mm range can produce frame-filling images, however, the 400 and 500mm lenses are considered more appropriate for birds. At this range using a tripod or a beanbag is almost a must and it will greatly aide in obtaining sharp images. It will also allow you to set the camera to a certain point so you will be ready when a bird lands. If dont want to carry a tripod, kneeling on your right knee and resting your left elbow on your left knee while holding the camera, with your left foot flat on the ground can make a dramatic change.
Possessing the best camera/lenses is not enough though; you must know about your camera completely: the operations, attachments, features, shutter speed, how your camera acts in different lighting conditions etc.
Background, Framing, Composition and Light
Im sure most of you have taken what you thought would be a great shot, only to find that the final image lacks impact because the subject blends into a busy background. The human eye is excellent at distinguishing between different elements in a scene, whereas a camera has a tendency to flatten the foreground and background, and this can often ruin an otherwise great photo. Whenever possible use lens bokeh to separate your subject from the background. Good foregrounds can also add depth to your shots.
Sometimes a photo will lack impact because the main subject is too small and it becomes lost among the surroundings. Where possible, reduce the composition so that it is made up of the minimum number of elements. Otherwise get closer or use your zoom and try to capture the bird in the best possible pose. Images with the greatest impact are the one capturing a unique moment in time, which normally means an action-freezing shot (flying, hunting, feeding their young, diving to catch a fish, grooming etc). No matter how well you train your skills, taking dramatic images always involves an element of luck
Practice! The more you train the luckier youll get
As part of the preparation before visiting a location, you probably know what fixed hides or other viewpoints are present and, of course, what birds you may expect to find there and when. What you don't know and you should pay particular attention to when you get in location is the direction of light. Check for reflections of dark areas, strong shadows etc and try to use them in your advantage. To start with, I would suggest trying to keep the Sun behind you when you shoot, later you can experiment different other techniques.
Dont forget, all birds have a personal space which, if breached, will result in distress and/or flight. Respect them, even if it means losing a perfect photo opportunity, the interests of the birds and their environment must come first.
1: Know your subject.
Its unlikely that you will stumble into taking the perfect bird photo. Where is the bird you want to shoot? Will you need to go to a zoo, or is it a local species? If its in a zoo, hang out by its exhibit for a while and learn its habits. If its local, learn where it spends its time. What equipment will you need? How close can you get to the bird? Its good to know the answers before your session.
2: Be creative.
I spent about a week studying some herons at a local lake. I found that they liked to hang out near a certain bridge around dusk. Id tried to capture them before, but I couldnt get too close on foot, and they liked flying away over the water so I couldnt follow them. To solve both of these problems, I decided to stalk them in my kayak. (Warning: do NOT attempt this unless you know how to use both the boat and the camera.) I was able to follow them as they moved around, and get closer to them. Because I knew how the herons behaved, I was able to think up a perfect solution to the problems of shooting them.
Theyre going to make you work for that perfect shot. Birds are cruel like that. Hang out with them for a while, and they might let you catch a glimpse of a moment few people get to see.
Bird photography can be rewarding as well as frustrating. The subject is usually little, moves quickly from branch to branch, and hides in the shade of trees. Patience and practice is the key to success.
1. Practice first in your own backyard. You don't end up with better bird photographs just because you are in a more spectacular area. Attract the birds by keeping your feeder filled all year long.
2. If you dont have long lens, approach birds slowly.
3. Stay at eye-level to the bird which gives you the same perspective that the bird sees as well as allows you to keep the background out of focus.
Enjoy bird watching.
As I'm not a pro when it comes to bird photography I'll try my best. Here my three 'tips':
1. Know your target
Learn about the birds you want to shoot. It will make things easier when you know about their food, enemies and breeding habits.
There are a lots of birds that are easy to shoot, like ducks or sometimes sparrows. You'll gain a lot of experience when you try to get a really good photo of them.
It's important in every part of photography. Sometimes you'll go home and feel depressed because you had an aim and you did't make it. Try again and again and again. Never forget about the vision in your head.
My three "tips" for a bird photographer would be:
1. A fast camera with a high quality zoom lense.
2. Lots of patience.
3. A good camouflage.
Here are the five thumbs for the feature:
I have been shooting birds for a couple of years now, and I'll have to admit that I still have a lot to learn. Especially when it comes to capturing the smaller species, but I've been lucky to get a few decent shots of medium-sized birds like gulls, ducks, owls and hawks, and larger ones like swans, herons, storks and pelicans. I mostly find the birds in public parks and in our local forrest, and once or twice a year I'll go to the Copenhagen Zoo to try and capture some of the more exotic ones.
In most cases I use a 300mm telephoto lens and sometimes I also add an extender, which make it a 420mm. I always shoot handheld and if the bird is sitting or standing still, I can usually get a sharp shot at a relatively slow shutter speed like 1/250 sec., but if I want to capture a bird in flight, a shutter speed between 1/1000-2000 sec. is required. For that I'll either need plenty of light or have to bump up the ISO value quite a bit. As with all kinds of wildlife photography, patience is the keyword. You'll have to wait for a nice or interesting pose, and if possible, also make sure that the background is not too cluttered or unattractive. Here are a few shots I'm proud of:
So here would be my tips :
3 tips to photograph wild birds :
1. Wild birds are usually very shy, especially birds of prey. Even if you are very careful you probably won't get very close to them, that's why you absolutely need a telephoto lens with at least 300mm focal length. I mostly use 600mm to shoot birds.
2. Even with a telephoto lens it can be difficult to get close enough to the birds, that's why it's best to photograph for example from the inside of a tent/ hut or if you don't have that possibility to use camouflage.
3. As with all wild animals, the most difficult part is probably to find them. Birds like tits and sparrows are almost everywhere, but if you're looking for the more rare species it can be very challenging. A good place to photograph birds is usually near ponds/lakes/river where there are many insects which serve as food for a lot of small birds.
1/. Its important to show the bird naturally,this is most important if the bird is captive: bars ,wire and unnatural backgrounds will detract from a good shot...although having the jesses showing on a Falconers bird is less of a problem in my mind.
2/It is even more important with birds to get the eye sharp as the softness of the feathers can make it harder to get a focus for the eye to follow,which makes the difference between a good shot and an ok shot.
3/Observation: knowing a birds habits will always help you get a better shot,is there a favourite spot that it perches on?,it will be more relaxed and easier to shoot in surroundinds that are familiar ,this is especially true of the Ambush Raptors who sit and wait for prey to pass...
4/Always be ready to take advantage of a situation,its noo good packing the camera away before you get back to the car,it could cost you the shot of a lifetime,one that is only there for an instant,always carry the camera ready to point and shoot.
Three things I find helpful when shooting birds are:
1. The best telephoto lens you can afford.
3. An understanding of how different birds and birds in different locations are probably going to act.
Obviously you need a good telephoto lens so the subject will fill most of the frame although there are times when you might want to pull back and include more of the surroundings in your photo.
You also need plenty of patience. I mostly shoot the larger wading birds (they are plentiful in my area and they are also easier...I'm lazy).I'll watch where the birds are more active and pick a spot where the lighting is good and then just sit quietly and let them come to me. This works especially well when trying to shoot the smaller, more nervous perching birds.
And lastly, I've found that if you shoot at locations where the birds are used to seeing people around (like a wildlife refuge with a boardwalk) many of the birds will let you approach fairly close if you move slowly and quietly.
Also I try to get out early in the morning when the birds are becoming active and you have that great morning light.
Tip 1- Learn all of your camera functions very well so you can make changes very quickly. You should be able to change your ISO level, aperture, exposure compensation and focal points without taking your eye away from the viewfinder when you have to. I have found that this saves time and allows you to keep your camera pointed at the subject. Get to know your histogram and metering as well so you can check your exposure levels. Post-processing is a large part of photography. I shoot in RAW and find this gives me a higher quality photo and allows for minor changes. This can be quite a detailed process, so I will not get too deep into it. My processing for the web is different than for printing.
A lot of birds both large and small give very little warning as to when they are about to take flight and when they do, they may land a short distance away, but a completely different light. You want to be ready. Also, I have had many take off in the opposite direction that I want, so I like to be prepared for the time they co-operate and provide the keeper. A good long lens is very important. I use a 400mm for birds, and would consider it the minimum. A shoulder brace or monopod for the lower light situations should also be considered. I have found a tripod a bit bulky for my liking, but it is a personal preference. A lot of photography is based on personal preference, find what's comfortable for you.
Be sure to practice on your more common birds so you will be ready for the uncommon.
Tip 2- Learn your subject's habits. Both feeding and migratory. I have found that following migratory patterns of different birds, provides many opportunities for avian photography. The spring and fall migration times differ by species. I enjoy seeing the winter ducks return. Once you learn the patterns for your area, you will find a favourite as well. Bird feeders are great for those that don't want to or are unable to wander through trails and will provide great photo opportunities all year round.
Tip 3- Be patient, prepared, careful and repect your subject. A vital part of not just avian, but all wildlife photography. If you plan to shoot that winter duck or hawk, you will have to spend a lot of time in the field, sitting in a snowbank, on the edge of a frozen river or by a lake, maybe for hours. In the summer, be prepared for bugs, sun, poison plants and whatever other wildlife may be lurkin out there. I have had a few instances where I was glad to have the extra clothing, ice cleats, bug spray, floppy hat and sunsreen. I haven't had to use my hunting knife, but carry one when I go deep woods as a last resort. Bear spray isn't a bad idea either, also a last resort. Be sure to let someone know where you plan to be and an expected time home. This may not be a huge concern with cell phones, but I have been in many areas where there is no service, so I still inform someone of my plans. I always carry an emergeny kit, an axe and snowshoes with me in the winter. When I am in the field, I leave no trace of being there. It could be a day trip or ten day camping trip. I dont approach my subjects in a startling manner although I have had them approach me. When this happens, I dont move and let them move away on their own. I have had owls and hawks land feet from me, a spotted sandpiper and virginia rail walk between my legs. Foxes sleep feet from me and warblers almost land on me. Some too close for photos, so I just enjoy the sight. The key is, you want to be as unthreatening as possible. When in the wilderness, I try to be the deer, not the wolf.
Missed an Issue of Dramatic Insights??? Check them all out here!! [link]
I hope you have enjoyed the article and that you will check out these fantastic groups specializing in Birds!!