October 21, 2013
- Breathing Room: In photography it’s called negative space. Try not to photograph a bird in flight cropped the shot in so tight that it looks like the bird is in a small box. Always allow some distance area in your composition either ahead in front of the bird (to fly into) or behind the bird (to fly away from). Also, try to avoid placing the bird dead center of the frame.
- Use Continuous Auto Focus: On most medium to high end digital DSLR cameras there is a setting known as continuous auto focus. On a Canon it’s called Al Servo, on a Nikon it’s called AF-C) Using this mode will allow the camera and lens to continuously track and hold auto focus while panning or following the bird in flight to assure that it is always in sharp focus.
- Use a Fast Shutter Speed: When photographing a bird in flight, it’s best to shoot at a shutter speed or at least 1/500th of a second or faster. Some photographers say 1/1000th or faster. This is so you do not get any movement or motion blurring in your image. Even if the bird that is being photographed is simply gliding at a slow pace, keep the camera’s shutter speed at least at 1/500th to be safe.
- Use a Long Lens: Every form of wildlife whether they be beast or bird have what is called a fight or flight distance. This is a distance that they will allow a person (photographer) to get within before they decide to fight (come at you) or flight (fly away.) Some birds are very skittish. Using a long lens of at least 200mm or longer will provide enough adequate reach so that it is possible to get a decent size bird in the frame and still leave enough negative space in the composition to create an interesting image.
- Shoot at Eye Level: Whenever possible it’s best to try and photograph birds coming towards the camera rather than flying away from it. Also, at the level that they are flying rather than below them. To attain this, take a moment to study out the shooting area and try to choose an elevated part of the landscape. If this is not possible, wait for the bird to fly low and glide past. A lot of times this will happen just before they are about to land on a beach or tree log on the ground.
For more tips on photographing birds CLICK HERE!
Try out those five tips and see how your bird photography will improve.