Whether you are looking to photograph some of the more common garden birds, water birds or even capture something a little more elusive with your camera, bird photography can be incredibly rewarding when you manage to achieve the perfect photograph. However, birds, just like any other type of wildlife, do not always cooperate. Therefore, it is important to allow plenty of time, patience and practice when you plan to photograph birds.
Whilst they are not the easiest of subjects to photograph there are a number of tricks that you can use that will really help to give you the best chances of capturing the incredible colours and plumage of birds at their very best.
Here is how I recommend to photograph birds:
Birds are on the whole incredibly timid, and the slightest movement or sound can scare them into flying away. Whilst it isn’t always possible to set up a hide for bird photography, although this can produce amazing results, there are a number of things that you should do to help you blend into your surroundings. Don’t wear shiny things or bright colours. Instead, opt for things that will help you to blend into the nature around you. If you can’t eliminate certain things – for example glasses which can reflect light or even your camera lens, then look for ways in which you can cover them up a little. The more inconspicuous you are, the better your chances of getting your photograph.
The perfectly positioned bird can move in an instance and your dream shot will be gone. It is very important to use higher ISO settings for your bird photography than you might use for things like landscapes. Remember that higher ISO will of course bring with it the possibility that your shots will include a little more noise. However, having to remove a little noise is a small price to pay for a photograph that is less blurry.
Most modern cameras will give you the option to set a minimum shutter speed. This permits your camera to adjust the ISO setting to the minimum that it will need to be in order to allow the chosen speed. The auto-ISO feature of a DSLR camera can be incredibly handy when it comes to photographing birds in their more natural environments.
There are certain settings where you may find the chance of birds coming closer are more likely. For example in your garden this might be a bird table or a berry bush, whilst out and about on a pond or even a lake. However, you will probably still have to wait quite a while for a bird to settle. Patience is key when it comes to bird photography. Get comfortable, and make sure that your camera is set up properly. You may prefer to use a tripod or a monopod in order to set up a good shot and also reduce the risk of camera shake. Then wait.
Consider the times of day when you want to try taking photos too. Different types of birds are more prevalent at certain times of the day, so do a little research. There is no point setting up in the middle of the day to try and capture a bird that you are only likely to see in the early morning or late evening. The right research could save you a lot of time. However if you are just looking to take photographs of any birds, and this may very well be the case if you are just starting out, then this will be less important.
Finally, when a bird comes into shot, take as many frames as possible. This will give you the best chance of a great shot.