Do you want to capture stunning bird photography…
…that goes beyond the usual, standard bird photos?
In this article, I’ll give you 5 bird photography secrets that will ensure you consistently create incredible bird images.
Images that are creative, unique, and original.
Let’s dive right in!
1. Get Low for Gorgeous Bird Photography Backgrounds
Here’s the bread-and-butter of creative bird photography:
Get down low.
It may seem tough. You might prefer to stay up high, away from the dirt and water and mud.
But if you want incredible bird photos, you’ve got to get out of your comfort zone. You’ve got to get down low.
Specifically, you need to get on a level with the bird. Your lens should be about even with the bird’s eye.
Why is this so important?
When you shoot from down low, the distance between the bird and the background is greatly increased. And that causes the background to be far more blurred.
Therefore, you’ll capture some beautiful bokeh.
And beautiful bokeh?
Makes for a stunning bird photo.
This is how professionals capture such dreamy backdrops in their bird photography.
They get down as low as they can go. That’s all.
It really does make a huge difference!
Try it. I can guarantee that you won’t regret the resulting shots.
2. Shoot in water for stunning reflections
Do you want to capture especially gorgeous bird photography?
One of my favorite ways to do this…
…is to shoot reflections.
Let me explain:
A photo of a bird is nice. It’s standard. It can be beautiful.
But if you add a reflection, the image immediately becomes far more captivating. Viewers are instantly sucked into the scene.
The reflection adds a sense of subtle beauty and delicateness – one that you can’t get any other way.
Now, here’s how you capture gorgeous bird reflections:
First, shoot by still water.
Mudflats (with puddles) work well. Same with sheltered lakes.
If you’re struggling to find water still enough to generate full reflections, try shooting during the early morning. That’s when the wind tends to be a lot less noticeable.
Second, make sure the sun is low in the sky. (The lower, the better.) This will ensure that the reflection includes some nice colors.
You also have to be careful not to get too low over the water.
If you’re too low, the full reflection won’t come through. And a broken reflection has far less power than a full reflection.
Find some birds near the water, and start taking photos!
3. Capture action for compelling bird photos
One of the biggest problems with beginning bird photography…
…is that it’s static.
The bird just stands in the frame.
And while there are methods of making this type of photo work, it’s often just a boring photo.
That’s why you should spice up your bird photos using action.
Once you’ve found a subject, watch it through your camera. Keep your finger on the shutter button.
Then, as soon as it starts to move, take a burst of photos. The more photos, the better!
Of course, you’re going to have a lot of failed shots. But you’ll also capture some keepers. And these will (with a little luck) blow you away!
Some of my favorite shots involve birds flapping their wings, preening, or feeding. If you wait for this behavior, you’ll get some stellar action shots.
One thing I’d recommend:
When you’re watching a bird through the camera viewfinder, keep some space between the bird and the edge of the frame.
Because birds can rapidly change their size – just by opening their wings. And clipped body parts are one of the easiest ways to ruin a bird photo.
Just remember these tips, and you’ll be capturing some great action photos in no time!
4. Shoot through vegetation for unique images
Another way to capture original images…
…is to find a subject.
Get down low.
And shoot through some vegetation.
This creates a gorgeous foreground wash – one that frames the subject without dominating the photo.
To pull this off, you generally have to lie flat on the ground. I advise experimenting with a few different angles – move around your subject, testing different possible foregrounds.
Note: It’s important that the vegetation is very close to your lens (and very far from your subject). Because the farther the vegetation is from your lens, the more in focus (and distracting) it becomes.
It’s also important to limit the amount of vegetation in the photo. You don’t want to cover up the bird entirely. Instead, you want to frame the bird with the vegetation.
Then start taking some shots with a foreground wash. You’ll love the shots you get.
5. Capture silhouettes for dramatic bird shots
Here’s one more way to capture creative bird photos:
Silhouettes are really easy to pull off – and they look incredible.
Here’s how you do it:
Go out as the sun is just about to set. Find a subject (birds with a clear outline are best).
Then change your position so that the bird is between you and the setting sun. Ideally, the bird blocks the sun from your camera. This will prevent the sky from being completely blown out.
Make sure that the bird is in front of as much of the sky as possible.
That is, you want to frame the bird with sky – and you don’t want any dark patches behind the bird (from trees or other objects).
If you’re struggling with this, try getting down as low as you can. Because the lower you get, the more sky you’ll include in the frame.
Finally, ensure that you drastically underexpose your subject. One trick is to set the exposure based on the sky next to the bird.
That way, you’ll get a beautiful sky – with a nicely silhouetted subject.
Creative bird photography: next steps
Now you know how to capture stunning, original bird photos.
You know how to produce amazing backgrounds.
You know how to generate interest.
And you know how to capture incredible foregrounds.
The next step…
…is to get out and shoot!
Have any tips for creative bird photography? Share them in the comments!
Table of contents
- 5 Secrets for Stunning Creative Bird Photography
- Review of the Nikon D500 for Wildlife and Bird Photography
- ADVANCED GUIDES