5 tips for taking exceptional photos of birds

Last week John Gitsham from GWLAP shared his tips and tricks for photographing birds at a workshop at the Strathalbyn Natural Resource Centre. John’s had a long and varied career in photography and has an eye for a well composed picture. John shares photographs of birds on his ‘Bird Nerds‘ Facebook page – well worth following for pictures of feathered wildlife to brighten your day.

Here are John’s top tips for taking great photos of birds.

Tip #1 – Always try to get an eye in focus.  People are naturally drawn to eyes and will enjoy a photograph more if they feel they are connecting with the subject. It is acceptable to have a blurred tail or moving wings, as long as an eye is in focus.

Tip #2 – Choose your background carefully. Move around until you can get a smooth, even background behind the bird. Lots of clutter behind the subject will detract from the photo. Use the Aperture Priority setting on your camera to blur the background a bit.

Tip #3 – Be patient and wait for the bird to act naturally. An image of a bird on a bench can be a bit boring. Try to capture the bird doing something – calling, eating, preening its wings.

Tip #4 – Shoot lots of images. Take a single image first to check that the image is sharp and in focus, if all looks good shoot in bursts of 5-10 frames at a time. You can delete unwanted images later, and you might just get one that really ‘works’.

Tip #5 – Shoot either early in the morning or closer to the evening. You will find that these times provide the best opportunities as birds are out looking for food. If you can, go for early morning as this is when birds tend to be most active.

Most importantly, always keep the welfare of the bird in mind. Remember that if you disturb the bird, you are stopping it doing what it should –  eating, feeding its young, building a nest or finding a mate. Take your photo and move on.

What are your tips for photographing birds or other wildlife? You can use the comments section below.

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