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Bird Photography Tips

Bird Photography Tips

Australian bird
This photo was taken in December 2012 with a Canon 50D, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4-5.6L IS USM
Camera Settings: f/5.6, 1/640 seconds and ISO 640

Introduction

All my bird photos was taken with a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM. It does not always bring the subject very close especially not on a full frame camera. In most cases I had to crop quite a bit.

Some of the photos I took a few years ago in Australia. I used a Canon 50D which was a cropped sensor. It definitely is preferable to the full frame when taking photos of birds. With a 400mm lens you still need to get quite close to the birds unfortunately. 

Juvenile Gymnogene
This photo was taken in May 2015 with a Canon 5D MkIII, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4-5.6L IS USM
Camera Settings: f/5.6, 1/1000 seconds and ISO 160

Background

It is important to get a background where the subject (bird) stands out and does not disappear into the background. A shallow depth of field is very easily achieved with a telephoto lens and a small aperture. The shallow depth of field blurs the background and produced a cleaner background. This helps to isolate the subject.

Kookaburra in a tree
This photo was taken in December 2012 with a Canon 50D, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4-5.6L IS USM
Camera Settings: f/5.6, 1/320 seconds and ISO 200

Animal Skills

It is very helpful to be able to anticipate the birds movements. I am not very skilled in this field and think I can improve my bird photography if I learnt more about the behavior of birds. By learning the behavior and habitat of birds you can anticipate where a bird will land. It is important to be patient. You need to be ready when the bird is close and in your frame. I have missed many photos due to the fact that I was not ready when the bird presented itself.

A Cape Robin (Janfrederik)
This photo was taken in November 2015 with a Canon 5D MkIII, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4-5.6L IS USM
Camera Settings: f/5.6, 1/320 seconds and ISO 2000

Where to photograph birds

Some of the birds that I photographed in Australia was at the zoo in Sydney. I went to watch a bird show and could get quite close to the birds. The other photos were mostly taken in and around where I live. You don’t always need to travel far to capture a bird. Only the rare birds. 

5 Ducks
This photo was taken in June 2015 with a Canon 5D MkIII, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4-5.6L IS USM
Camera Settings: f/5.6, 1/2000 seconds and ISO 320

Shoot Manual mode

I always use manual mode when photographing birds. I set my aperture to the lowest possible, my shutter speed to 1/500-1/2000 and the ISO to auto. I always use autofocus but sometimes if you know exactly where the bird wil land or if it is flying, where the bird will fly past then you could use manual focus. I prefer autofocus to make sure the bird is perfectly in focus. Especially if using a shallow depth of field. 

Bird in flight
This photo was taken in December 2012 with a Canon 50D Canon EF 100-400mm f/4-5.6L IS USM
Camera Settings: f/5.6, 1/400 seconds and ISO 125

Conclusion

If is far more important to get close to your subject rather than using a big long lens like the 800mm or an extender. Know your gear and shoot RAW. That is the best advice I can give. Stunning photos take time, patients and effort. Don’t expect to get a spectacular shot the first time.

Cockatoo in a tree

This photo was taken in December 2012 with a Canon 50D, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4-5.6L IS USM
Camera Settings: f/5.6, 1/640 seconds and ISO 200

Close up of an Emu
This photo was taken in December 2012 with a Canon 50D, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4-5.6L IS USM
Camera Settings: f/5.6, 1/200 seconds and ISO 1600
Australian bird
This photo was taken in March 2015 with a Canon 5D MkIII, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4-5.6L IS USM on a tripod
Camera Settings: f/5.6, 1/500 seconds and ISO 1250
Juvenile Gymnogene
This photo was taken in May 2015 with a Canon 5D MkIII, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4-5.6L IS USM
Camera Settings: f/5.6, 1/1000 seconds and ISO 160
White-Breasted Cormorant
This photo was taken in June 2015 with a Canon 5D MkIII, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4-5.6L IS USM
Camera Settings: f/5.6, 1/2000 seconds and ISO 200
White-Breasted Cormorant
This photo was taken in June 2015 with a Canon 5D MkIII, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4-5.6L IS USM
Camera Settings: f/5.6, 1/1250 seconds and ISO 200
Landscape Photography Using a Telephoto Lens

Landscape Photography Using a Telephoto Lens

Capturing Photos in Fog or Mist

Capturing Photos in Fog or Mist

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