How to Take Exceptional Photos of Birds

The robin has been announced as the most popular bird in the UK, according to the results of the Vote National Bird Campaign, beating both the blackbird and the barn owl for the honor.


Bird Photography

Details of the poll have had us thinking about the many types of birds which make their home in the UK. As great as these are to see in the open though, securing exceptional photos of them can be a difficult task.

Fortunately, these tips should help you to get the perfect snap every time:

1. Know your equipment…

Before you even begin to consider which type of bird you want to photograph, you should take the time to get accustomed to your camera.

If you need a new camera for the task, it is a good idea to opt for a digital SLR as they will make capturing a bird in flight easier.

The type of camera isn’t the only important aspect to consider though. To improve the quality of every photo you take, make sure that you have switched off the auto focus, auto flash and motor drive settings.

It is also wise to become accustomed to your camera’s f-stop setting, as well as its shutter speed. That way, you won’t need to fiddle about in your device’s settings menu, wasting the precious seconds that you have to get the perfect photo.

If possible, be sure to set your camera to continuous mode, as this will increase the chances of you capturing in-focus images. Plus, if you have opted for a DSLR it is very simple to delete any snaps that don’t satisfy your thirst for quality.

2. …And your setting

You should never head out with your camera expecting that wonderful scenes of nature will, quite literally, fly your way. Take some time to prepare in order to swing the odds of getting those amazing shots in your favor.

Once you have selected a location where the bird you want to photograph regularly visits, head along to the setting and study how it’s set up. Ask yourself the following questions:

• How does the sunlight reflect off flowers and plants throughout the day and does this ever have a detrimental effect on the quality of the photo?
• Where do birds usually flock to? Do they seem to opt for certain branches or have similar flight paths when exploring a setting?
• Is there any hiding spots near to the places where the birds flock, so that you can take an up-close photo without disturbing your target?

3. Pick the best time

Just like humans, birds have regular routines. In fact, many birds will be flying about early in the morning as they will be looking for the best sources of food for both themselves and their young — the early bird catches the worm isn’t just a saying.

It is a good idea to visit a potential location on numerous occasions to see if any patterns develop. It is very likely you will see that robin at around the same time every morning or that flock of blackbirds making a scene late in the afternoon no matter the day you choose.

4. Respect your target

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Regardless of how desperate you are to get that one-of-a-kind photo, you should always respect the bird and their habitat.

Never stray close to or upset a bird’s nest — you wouldn’t appreciate someone wandering into your home just because they wanted your photo. Furthermore, standing around a nest increases the possibility of the nest being spotted by predators.

Adopt a patient approach. Don’t try to play Mother Nature by forcing a bird out of its hiding spot; instead prepare to be at a spot for a while and have your camera ready for when that perfect photo opportunity develops.

If you aren’t successful in getting that outstanding shot despite your best efforts, call it a day and return to the scene at the next possible opportunity instead of trying in vain to miraculously stumble across a glorious scene of nature.

Do you have any remarkable photos of birds? Share your tips in the comments below so that others can repeat your success.

This article is courtesy of Clifton Cameras.

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3 Comments on "How to Take Exceptional Photos of Birds"

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Jay Long

Great advice; I especially liked the “respect your target” item. All and all, nice piece.

Anthony Rampersad

A good point to add would also be to know your target. If you spend some time observing some birds for instance you’d notice they’re very habitual and some even have routines. I’ve been trying to shoot hummingbirds for some time and noticed they re-visit the same plant roughly every 15 minutes or so. It makes the planning and preparations easier. Good article nonetheless.

Anthony Rampersad

Oops… Seems I missed the paragraph where you covered that 🙂

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