Have you ever tried to take a photo of a flying bird?
Bird Photography is a type of Nature Photography that results in incredible images, no matter what the birds species are. Photos of birds are always beautiful and fascinates anyone.
Taking photos of animals is not always an easy task. And that can be even more difficult when it comes to flying birds because they fly and move quickly, which can be a challenge to the photographer.
Birds are usually found in “unorganized” places, meaning that their natural habitats have many distracting elements, such as the branches and leaves of the trees that get mixed at multiple angles and distract the view from the main object of the photo (the bird).
In Bird Photography, one of the most important things is to be patient. Very often, you can wait for an entire day and not get a single good image! In most cases, getting a good photo of a bird involves some luck, after all, you have to be in the right place at the right time!
But don’t worry: in this post you will discover how to take photos of birds and how to get stunning images of those beautiful animals in a way that’s unique and original!
Let’s get started.
Be an observer
The way you behave around birds is as important as mastering good photography techniques. How you approach the natural habitat of a bird is what will allow you to take photos from farther at a distance where your camera gear can properly work.
Birds are very sensitive to movement. They will almost always fly away if you get too close to them. So, first of all: be patient and wait for them to get near you and don’t make any sudden movements or any noise. Another tip is not to wear very colorful clothes when you’re taking photos of birds, try to wear clothes that mimic the colors of their natural habitats to work as a type of camouflage.
Get the right equipment
For any type of photography, having the equipment is fundamental to obtain good images. Bird Photography is not different. Of course, the better the equipment, the better the resulting photos will be. But it’s possible to get beautiful photos of birds even with amateur equipment, all you need to set up correctly is your camera.
For DSLRs or Mirrorless Cameras, the lenses with a longer focal length are better for taking photos of birds (100 mm, 200 mm, 300 mm and so on). With those lenses, it is possible to stay further away from the bird and still get images rich in details. To use lenses like these, you need to take a lot of care because any shake of the photographer’s hand can ruin the image.
Professional camera lenses often have an internal stabilization system. If yours doesn’t, a simple rule can help ensure sharp, blur-free images: the shutter speed should be equal (or closer) to the focal length of the camera lens. Therefore, if you have a 300mm lens without a stabilizer, you should use a minimum shutter speed of 1/300.
In addition, a clear lens aperture can also be interesting, such as (f/1.8 or /f2.4. This type of lens produces a blurred background effect in the image, helping to obtain a cleaner composition that highlights the bird.
Set up your camera to take photos of flying birds
Taking photos of wild birds is more than a hobby, it is a challenging activity. It depends on how lucky you are to be in the right place at the right time, but you can use your camera shutter speed to get better results in Bird Photography.
It is very important to always prioritize your camera speed to take photos of flying birds because they maneuver a lot in the air. So, set your camera to high shutter speeds and set its ISO aperture above 1/1000.
If you are a photographer with a little more knowledge and experience with professional cameras, the manual mode is the most suitable for taking photos of birds because with it you can make all the decisions and choose all the necessary settings to shoot better images. With manual mode you can change the F-stop Scale, shutter speed and exposure functions as the lighting changes.
Just remember that manual mode, shutter speed and ISO are features of Mirrorless Cameras and DSLRs. So if you use your smartphone’s camera, you can search on the Internet or on YouTube for tutorials on how to set up a smartphone to those specific settings because there are different ways to do that based on the phone brand and model.
Find the perfect lighting
Taking photos of birds in the sunlight is a great option for those with basic photo equipment. Also, the sunlight helps to capture photos that freeze the action of the bird and highlight the details of the animal when your camera is set at a high shutter speed. The best times of the day to get good lighting are just after the sunrise and just before the sunset At those moments, the sun gains a yellowish and natural color and the light is better distributed, avoiding strange shadows in the photos.
Work on the photo composition
Photo composition is how the elements of a photo are organized. There are a few more things you can do to get beautiful composition of Bird Photography:
Isolate the bird in the photo
Choose what is necessary to appear in the image to create a perfectly composed image. Use your F-Stop scale if your Camera has this feature. Use your camera’s shutter angle and your proximity to the bird to eliminate anything that is unnecessary in the final photo.
Anticipate the bird movements
Birds fly, play, dive and swim. So it’s good to imagine their behavior and anticipate what they will do next. If you notice that the bird is about to move, you can set up your camera’s shutter speed, F-Stop and ISO to specifically enhance the quality of the motion photo.
Let the bird get closer
When you study the behavior and the habitat of the birds that you are going to photograph, you can anticipate where they fly to, walk and land. Then, you can prepare in advance for when the bird approaches you, which will make your image look much more original and eye-catching.
Try different angles
Look for different angles when you’re taking photos of birds, different elements and unusual behaviors of the birds to create original photos like nobody else ever shot before.
Pay attention to background
The most common trend is to take pictures from positions that are comfortable, it can be standing or just leaning towards the camera that is supported on a Tripod. But when you change the angles of your camera, you can change a photo’s background very much. Tree branches can be replaced by a blue sky and fluffy clouds if the photographer sits on the ground and points the camera upwards, for example. Try to do that and innovate in your photos to get unique results.
Great! Now you know how to get the right equipment for Bird Photography, how to set up your camera to take photos of birds, how to find the perfect lighting and how to work on the photo composition. So don’t hesitate to put what you’ve learned into practice!
You can also share your thoughts in the comments below!