Deal 9: Hacking Photography mega-deal
The following thoughts on Backyard Bird Photography was submitted by NaturesPixel (our forum Administrator). Check out her Flickr account - particularly her bird photography (one of which is the second shot in this article).
The best time of year to photograph birds is Spring. That way you have the opportunity to capture birds you wouldn’t normally see due to spring migration. Later in spring you can also capture the adults tending to their offspring. That being said, any time of year can be good, in late Autumn you will get the migration coming back down south and winter you may have birds that live north during summer but live in your back yard during winter.
Early morning is best. I find within the 3 hours after the sun rises the birds are at their most active. At this time the sun is not at full strength which gives you nice even light. Two hours before sunset can also be a very fruitful time.
To get ‘pro’ shots in the wild you will need a SLR/DSLR with a 300mm (or more) lens, but in the back yard the rules change. You can even get good shots with an advanced point and shoot with 10x Zoom as I did with my Minolta Dimage Z5.
You will need a tripod to steady yourself also I some times set my camera up in the yard closer to the feeders, sit back away from the camera and use my remote to fire off the shutter. So I recommend you have at least a 10x zoom or a 200mm lens, a Tripod/Monopod, remote shutter release and most of all patience.
I recommend using either continuous focusing or manual focusing with pre-focusing on the branch/perch or feeders.
I set my white balance manually although as I do tend to forget that sometimes I always shoot in RAW. That way if I do forget to set my white balance or my exposure is off a little I can fix within my image editing software.
I tend to shoot in Aperture Priority Mode when shooting birds that are feeding, that way you can control the depth of field.
With in flight birds I shoot in manual mode, setting the shutter and aperture. This is all a learning curve that takes practice and patience.
There are numerous way to attract birds and it will largely depend upon the type of birds that are in your area.
Besides photography, there are other reasons attracting birds is a good idea. For example having the northern Oriole come to your yard will help keep down the Wasps. Humming birds don’t just feed on sugar water they east insects too !
I could go on and on about attracting birds to your backyard but the rest is up to you to research as each yard and bird species is so different.
There are a few things you can do here that will help you create a place that birds feel comfortable to visit without knowing you’re there.
You can hide where ever. As long as it gives you a clear line of sight to the bird.
I don’t have many in-flight shots because they are harder to do, but here are a few tips that will help.
You can get shots of birds flying off from the feeder by pre focusing just off the feeder and setting your shutter speed and aperture manually.
Here is one tip I will try this season. I have one feeder where the birds have only 2 ways to land there. I plan to set my camera on a tripod just behind the feeder and, using my remote, I will fire off shots as they are coming into land. This should capture them with their wings stretched out.
Just remember, bird photography takes practice and patience. You will toss many more shots into the trash then you keep, but that’s why we shoot digital.
Getting into the backyard can be rewarding. You get to see Mother Nature at her best and you get to help save some species.
For example, here in Ontario the Black Capped Chickadees need help, so feeding them through the year can help the species survive. There are some great websites that can help with identification, like eNature.com that you can search with your zipcode if you live in the United States. Search via zipcode and eastern western cananda, there are many different sites that pertain to different parts of the world. Your countries government environmental website will also have some good information.
Do you have some bird photography tips to share? Head over to the forums where we have a bird photography thread for your questions, tips and photos.
July 30, 2013 01:37 am
Good advice, I can verify the techniques.
Best for me, set camera on tripod with wireless remote and observe from inside. Makes for more comfortable winter image. If you have rain/weather cover assist in non-fair weather captures.
June 23, 2013 09:48 pm
please help me on birds photography... Many pictures I taken by my canon 600 D. When ever I am seeing the picture in camera it's looking good but when ti uploaded to laptop that time came to know the it's out of focus. how can I clear this issue?
April 26, 2013 05:06 am
Yes good old tips!
Some of mine pics:
November 9, 2012 08:19 am
Thanks for the excellent tips -
I've started to do bird photography last month, these tips are definitely help.
May 18, 2012 02:40 pm
I am a very inexperienced photographer, but just simply 'love' the hobby, even though i am a very late starter. I read everything I can get my hands on and have no hesitation in saying the above item is fabulous.
February 24, 2012 08:31 am
Awesome, thanks for this tips. I find it very interesting.
Much information was given. I can also share this to my colleagues.
August 26, 2011 05:37 am
No tips from me still learning lol . I love bird photography it is so rewarding when your photos turn out lol I have lots of feeders all year long ! I find it wonderful to just be there in the midst of nature, camrea in hand, I dont use a tripod trying to capture its beauty ! I just wish I could get the Hummers wings in stop motion but heck I am working on that and am enjoying it thoughly ! I do have a blog of my and hubbies photography http://kandewoodphotography.blogspot.com I enjoy sharing our photos even if we arent pros !
April 28, 2011 01:40 pm
Very informative, will try taken pictures in Aperture priority, have been using manual only.
March 30, 2011 04:50 am
Very nice site---
The birds definitely bring a backyard to life.
I don't know much about photography but I'm going to give it a try anyway.
Thanks for the inspiration.
February 13, 2011 06:40 am
Enjoying the use this website thank you so much for the great tips. Just got a new camera for starters and I sure can't wait for spring and summer. Until then I have a lot of practising to do and whole lot of reading.
December 9, 2010 09:17 pm
I have tried some, take a look: http://www.flickr.com/photos/diegoap/5086678602/
October 11, 2010 10:18 pm
I've been an editorial and documentary photo-journalist for more than two decades - just giving backyard bird photography a try now I'm getting a bit long in the tooth. I found my historic 70-210 Nikon was not up to the task so just bought the 70-300 VRII, and what a difference. Depth of field is the big problem now that I can see how sharp the in-focus parts are. Got to work on that. I'm using D300s at the moment as an upgrade from D70, can't justify moving up to full frame just yet but will only buy FX lenses from now on.
September 25, 2010 07:17 am
A couple of additional thoughts.
1. Your external flash unit can reach out to illuminate birds (or anything) even at a distance of 50 feet. Use the flash control and up the output by 2 stops. This flash tactic can help add contrast and detail even on birds that lack the color of a cardinal or bluejay.
2. The flash control basically changes the duration of the strobe flash pulse, which is normally about 1/1,000th second. Some external units provide a control interface to dial down the flash as much as 4 stops, for a duration of 1/16,000th second. This is especially useful for freezing hummingbird wings because those wings beat at remarkably high frequency.
Obviously, if you have no super-short flash, you must either use a super-short shutter speed or give up and allow the wings to blur.
August 24, 2010 03:54 am
Please inform me about to prefer between the resolution 3Mp or 10 Mp when I photograph a flying seagull. Camera Olympus E-510, Crop.
January 4, 2010 01:34 am
October 7, 2009 06:13 pm
Thanks for the wonderful ideas...........I will try the tips this Sunday and try to get some decent photos.........Thanks again
January 27, 2009 07:36 am
Great post, and I love the new blog format too.
January 22, 2009 01:12 pm
bird photos are what got me into photography. great advice as always from this website
November 9, 2008 05:16 am
Thanx so much. What a great tips and photo samples. This really help and give inspiration. I just got my DSLR almost a week now, immigrate from compact camera. And this guidance is really nice and suitable especially for beginners to follow. All the best :)
July 5, 2008 07:30 pm
I want some birds photos.
June 25, 2008 11:26 am
Your pictures are Stunning.Quite a few years ago,I used to be into photograpy pretty good.Reading everything I could get my hands on.Taking some good photos,which I will eventurally try to get on my site.But I do have a question,which I forget how to do which is the white balance? I knew way back when,but don't remember anything about it now? Would you be able to explain that to me,and is that also done with a digital camera or not.Again your photos are inspiring me to get taking pictures again.Thank you.Donna
June 20, 2008 04:25 am
Fantastic advice and pictures . Am looking for special two way window film to prevent birds noticing my camera at the window , I have only a small area on my roof garden and have taken some lovely shots so far but always want to improve !!! Martin
April 9, 2008 01:06 am
the cardinal shot was saturated with aperature, don't over saturate it just looks fake, have you ever seen a cardinal that red???
September 30, 2007 07:17 am
These are really good tips, and they are just what I've been looking for. I love photography!
July 7, 2007 12:17 am
Excellent article. Thank you. This season we have pairs of American Robins and Cardinals nesting in the back yard. I want to capture their flight when they're at eye level. Just starting along the digital route after four decades of film photography. Much appreciate your advise.
May 22, 2007 04:18 am
is a great bird ID resource.
if you are in BC there is a great BC birding flickr group.
they can help with ID as well.
March 7, 2007 08:14 am
Great article with loads of practical tips. Thanks for the read!
March 3, 2007 08:56 pm
Thank you guys for the wonderful comments...
Mickey thanks for the extra Tip...
Marty that's good too :)
Everyone good luck in birding :)
March 3, 2007 07:35 am
Very helpful, practical tips for bird photography. Your ideas are useful to beginners. Walking through the set up and settings make it sound easy, so that even I, may one day(soon)snap a focused pic of a backyard beauty. Thanks too, to Mickey for additional hints.
March 3, 2007 04:50 am
Your recommendation of continuous autofocus when tracking a bird in flight is a good idea to which I would add that you might also wish to set continuous high speed for your shooting mode. This will allow more opportunities to produce the great image (from many possibles)that you're trying to achieve.
March 2, 2007 01:45 pm
Excellent tips. I will get started this weekend.
I was already attempting to take photos, these tips helped a lot.
March 2, 2007 08:50 am
Thanks for the excellent summary.
As you state, aperture control is key. Another great tip is to use flash whenever possible. This gives a great highlight in the eyes and brings detail to the feathers. Mickey says the same thing above and discusses the Better Beamer. This is needed for lenses longer than 300mm as a rule, and it works great.
Using flash also helps stop action as birds land or take off.
March 2, 2007 05:56 am
Good tips and new ideas for bird photography. I did some time try to this but not found good result. b'cos I am new in photography since Dec 15,2006. only 2 month . I have nikon D70s. flash SB800. So these type of tips are very usefull for me.
thansk again a very usefull tips.
March 2, 2007 01:38 am
Just want to thank the author for this nice tutorials. I've never tried bird photography (find it very complicated), but i think i should try it. There are many good tips here, I think they must help a lot.
P.S. And I really enjoy the photos you used in this article. They are very inspiring.
March 1, 2007 12:00 pm
Thanks for the info. I am a novice photographer but really enjoy the challenge of getting good bird photos. There are many variables to control (aperture, shutter speed...), some you hope to control or manipulate (bird feeders, perch, background, natural light...) and those you can't control (the bird). It's a great hobby to add to bird watching.
TIP - Try using a fill flash or off camera flash to bring out the highlights and detail in the feathers. I some times use a "Better Beamer" attachment on my flash as recommended by the pro Art Morris-www.birdsasart.com. For off-camera lighting techniques try www.strobist.com. Happy Hunting!
March 1, 2007 01:43 am
Thanks for the great tips! I love shooting nature and animals, I'm sure this info will prove to be more than helpful in the future!
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