12 Bird Photography Tips

Photography is a hidden art that requires patience and investment in order to truly master the skill. When it comes to taking pictures of birds, there are numerous bird photography tips and tricks that you need to learn before embarking on this wonderful adventure. Here are twelve tips that will help you capture the best photograph possible.

1. Choose the Best Setting for Taking Bird Photographs

Having the perfect lighting makes a world of difference when it comes to capturing beautiful photographs of birds. One of the best bird photography tips is to take pictures in the early morning or late afternoon when the sunlight is softer. Soft lighting provides a glow around birds, catches the light in their eyes, and does not cause any harsh shadows to occur. Additionally, this time of the day proves to be extremely active for birds.

photographers birding
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2. Choose an Angle that Truly Captures the Moment

Choosing an angle that reflects a bird’s eye view is one of the best tips on bird photography. If a bird is on the ground, get low and move toward them slowly to capture everything as they see it. If you bend down or take photos from above, you risk casting shadows over the birds or scaring them away. Taking photographs from the same level as the bird themselves provides viewers an accurate reflection of how the bird sees the world. The foreground and background will have a pleasant blur while capturing more intimate details of the birds.

3. Focus on the Catch Light

Bird photography tips that include focusing on the bird’s eyes should be followed for every single photo. As humans, we have an innate connection to all living beings and one of the first things we see with any living thing is its eyes. There is no difference with birds. Bird photographs should always focus on the eyes in order to create ‘catch lights’. This light makes the bird looks more lovely and lively, creating a more attractive capture. It is crucial for you to always maintain a sharp focus on the eyes of a bird and shoot the photograph from that level.

young robin
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4. Fill in the Entire Frame with the Bird

People that admire bird photography love it because of the attention to detail each photo provides. Viewers’ tips for bird photography is to fill the frame with the bird. The background should not be the most dominant part of the photo. Instead, focus on the bird. Fill the frame with the bird and allow the background to blur in behind it.

5. Tell a Story with Your Photography

Birds photography tips are no different than tips for most other types of photography. The picture should tell a story. A photograph of a bird and some of the background will explain to viewers the mood of the photograph. Viewers can tell the time of day, where the photo was taken, and what activity the bird was participating in. Including the bird in its natural habitat is important as long as you make the bird the main focus. If it is raining or snowing, viewers should be able to tell from your photo. If there are multiple birds in the area, capture photos of all the birds interacting.

fat bird silhouette
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6. Research is Key

Prior to photographing any bird, do some research on the specific bird you are going to focus on. Learning how a bird acts, what they eat, how they interact with others, and when they are more inclined to be active will go a long way in helping you take the best photographs imaginable. These bird photography tips may not be suitable if you are trying to photograph random birds or new locations; however, having the ability to research for a few minutes on the spot before taking the photograph can be extremely helpful.

If you are into photographing nature and animals in general, we strongly recommend reading our articles on wildlife photography tips and nature photography tips.

7. Capture Birds Behavior and Actions

As stated previously in bird photography tips, capturing photos in the early morning or late afternoon makes for more active birds. Burst shot mode is recommended for photographing birds because it takes several photographs as birds move around and interact. Refrain from taking photographs until your camera is able to lock in the focus on the bird. Try to anticipate what the bird is going to do by observing them before setting up to take your photographs. If possible, hide behind a bush or tree to obscure the bird’s view of you. Wait around until the bird forgets about you or finds something else to focus on.

woodpecker feeding
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8. Capture Birds While They are in Flight

Although a lot of tips on bird photography focus on taking photographs of birds on land, it is equally important to follow bird photography tips for capturing birds in flight. Take a few moments prior to photographing to admire how the bird flies. Learn their flight patterns, view how they land and take off, and take notice of birds flying alone or in groups. Track the bird for a while and let your camera achieve focus before you press the button to capture the photo. It is recommended to use the Aperture Priority setting on your camera in order to avoid changing light conditions as you photograph birds.

9. Observe the Background Before Capturing a Photo

When birds are in flight, be sure to select the perfect background for your photograph. Any background that is too distracting or too plain and boring will negatively contributions to your photo. Instead, bird photography tips focus on maximizing the aperture values in order to blur the background. Photographing birds can be a waiting game, but it is crucial for you to wait until the bird is in a good position in front of a good background before pressing the shutter button.

titmouse mating ritual
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10. Select the Best Camera for Birding and Lens

Most likely, you will not be able to capture an award winning bird photograph on your phone. Birds simply move too fast for standard cameras. Instead, it is crucial to choose a camera and lens that has a fast enough shutter speed. A lot of photographers prefer to use a 1/160 sec or faster lens without IS. Larger birds, such as herons or eagles, can be photographed quite well on lenses as slow as 1/500 or 1/640 sec. Smaller birds will require a fast speed, sometimes up to 1/2000 sec for close range. It is key to select a camera, such as a Nikon or Canon, that has a lot of lens speed options.

11. Have Patience and Plan for a Long Day

One of the absolute best bird photography tips you can listen to is to have patience. You should plan for an early morning that will easily lead into a very late night. It is not that simple to capture the best bird photography. Quite often, it can take several hundred photos to find the perfect one that shines through. Do not go out and expect the perfect photo opportunity to land in front of you. You need to wait for its arrival and capture it when you can.

man bird watching
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12. Practice on Common or Large Birds First

There is no doubt that every person sees birds throughout their daily schedule. Instead of trying to find an exotic bird to take photographs of, begin with common birds. These suggestive birds photography tips focus on learning how the bird walks, flies, and interacts with nature. Once you learn how to accurate capture common birds you can move on to other types.

Conclusion

You can never have too many bird photography tips on how to capture the perfect photo, no matter if you are just learning how to capture photos of birds or you are an expert. Integrating these twelve tips into your bird photography sessions will help you anticipate movement, observe your surroundings, and become one with the bird through photography.

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