Patience with Birds

June 26, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

If you read last week's blog you will know that I scout the area where I plan to be when I can photograph clouds and lightning. I need to find locations without power lines or water towers, buildings, or other distracting things. We can get so caught up with what we are looking for that we don't see other possibilities. While driving, I notices some Red Wing Black birds. I stopped and watched them. A big part of becoming successful at getting bird images is to get to know their behavior.

I watched them at two different locations and realized that they seem habitual. They frequent certain perches. I watched them for a long time and identified where I want to attempt to take up my position. I moved slowly and cautiously and then waited, and waited, and waited some more. The birds got used to me and started their previous routines. It was a wonderful experience being out in nature and photographing these birds. Here are a few suggestions to get your started:

  • Be patient. It just takes time and practice.

  • Start with stationary birds.

  • Get to know your camera well. Specifically, learn to control and set your focus modes and preferences.

  • Auto ISO is your friend, use it. Set your shutter speed and aperture as you want them and trust your camera to set the exposure right using the ISO.

  • Use a shutter speed of at least double your focal length. Use your largest aperture. If you are using a very long lens such as 600mm or longer you may need to stop down just a bit to get enough depth of field if you are really close to the birds.

  • Find a location where the background if far away from where your birds are. This will help to adequately blur the background.

  • Watch your background to make sure it is pleasing. Moving to the left or right a little can make a big difference.

  • Once you are more experienced, try some bird in flight images

If you use a fast enough shutter speed, turn off image stabilization. For birds in flight you need to increase your shutter speed even higher. Did I mention the need of lots of patience before? Just keep on trying.


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