Small birds can be among the most challenging animal photos to shoot for nature photographers. They’re small, they’re often hidden in tree branches, they’re easily spooked, and they move fast. However, bird photographs can yield amazing results, if you take your time and use some of these tips.
- First, turn off all of the digital camera’s sounds. That simulated shutter click might sound cool, but it also might spook a bird.
- There’s no shame in using a bird feeder to attract birds to a spot on your property, and then photographing them. Just be sure to pick a spot to hang the feeder that will give you a good background for your photos. Or, purchase a bird feeder that can easily be moved, allowing you to change the background and try various locations.
- Use a long zoom lens when shooting birds. Normally, I recommend moving closer to your subjects whenever possible, rather than relying on the zoom lens, but, when shooting skittish birds, stay farther away and use your zoom lens.
- When using the long zoom lens, be sure you have the camera secured and steadied. Brace yourself against a tree or use a tripod to keep the camera as steady as possible. Turn on your camera’s optical image stabilization feature to avoid camera shake, which can be a significant problem when using a long zoom lens.
- Try determining your camera’s settings ahead of time. The last thing you want to be doing when a bird appears is adjusting the shooting settings, rather than pressing the shutter button.
- If bird photography is a passion for you, you’ll want to make sure you have a camera close at hand at all times. You never know when you’re going to see a new type of bird, and, if that happens, you’ll be upset if you’ve left your camera at home. In this case, it might be worth carrying a small point and shoot camera in your pocket for spontaneous bird photos, and shooting more planned bird photos with a more expensive model or a DSLR.
- Finally, be sure to bring plenty of patience to your photography session for birds. Be prepared to wait quietly in a shooting location for the birds to appear. In addition, don’t worry if you miss the photo of a particular bird the first time. Chances are good that it will return ... if you’re patient.