By now you have probably figured out that I’ve adopted Bird Photography as part of my photography hobby. For the most part, I have been photographing stationary birds in a bird blind. Photographing birds in the wild is a much harder task. So, a friend of mine and I went out to photograph ducks at the Pedernales Falls State Park duck pond. When we arrived, all the ducks flew away and the pond was empty. So, we went ahead and setup our gear and waited. When the birds arrived, they were far away and out of reach of our telephoto lenses. The photograph below was the only one worth keeping. Fortunately, it was of three ducks with their heads submerged and their rear ends up in the air feeding on the bottom of the pond. Ducks dive under the surface to feed on pond weed and other organisms including insects.
Photographing birds in the wild is very tricky and requires special equipment and experience. Here are some tips I use when photographing birds in the wild:
- Telephoto lens. You need at least a 300mm lens but ideally something larger, 500mm is best.
- Tripod. A solid tripod is very helpful to produce sharp images.
- Aperture Priority. Set your camera on Aperture Priority to help maximize depth of field.
- Shutter Speed. You will need a shutter speed of at least 1/500th of a second to freeze the action. You may need to adjust your ISO to somewhere between 400 and 3,200 ISO to allow faster shutter speeds.
- Continuous Autofocus. Set your autofocus to continuous to track the birds and have a better chance of getting the “ideal image”.
- Background. Pay attention to the background and make sure it’s interesting and enables you to create a “soft” background. This will focus the attention on the bird.
- Focus on the Head. The bird’s head is the most important part of the image. Make sure to focus on the head in order to make sure it’s sharp.
- Stand Downwind. This will make sure that the birds don’t spot you and get spooked.
- Stay Still & Quiet. This is probably the most important part as birds spook easily.
- Frame In Advance. Make sure you frame your shot in advance so all you have to do is snap the shutter and capture the image.
This image was taken with my Canon EOS 5D Mark III using my Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Sports Lens set on 600 mm. The camera was set on Aperture priority mode with the aperture set at f/8, shutter speed at 1/640th of a second and the ISO set at 800. All processing was done in Lightroom.
This image is best when viewed large. Click on the image to enlarge it. Please use the section below to post your comments, questions or suggestions.