Photographing Birds

By: Felix Zhucha

Many people have switched from mere bird watching to a more exciting hobby of photographing birds.The pleasure of bird watching, and the capability of preserving the visual image that brought that pleasure is possible only with photography.Therefore, bird watching and bird photography complement each other.

You don't need to be an experienced birder to enjoy photographing birds,but you need to know your subjects - study birds and know their biology,travel patterns,habits, and behavior.

The best way to start photographing birds is to begin in your backyard with subjects that are easily accessible.To attract birds - set up a feeding station in your backyard. Choose some location with a non-distracting background. Set up a blind close to the feeder and shoot.Or,you can shoot through an open window.

Also, you may have some of your best luck with photographing birds at bird sanctuaries.

Begin photographing from a distance, and with a wider angle lens, and photograph birds in a larger context.Wide-angle lenses and short zoom lenses are useful for some of the more creative aspects of bird photography.

For bird photography you'll want to own the absolute best quality lenses you can afford.A 400 mm lens is usually considered the minimum acceptable focal length for serious bird photography - a quality 500mm f/4 telephoto lens is ideal.

Alternatively,use extension tubes.They move the film plane further away from the lens resulting in magnification of your subject.However,extension tubes reduce the amount of light reaching the film.

Some form of camera support is required for bird photography. A tripod is recommended since you'll use a long focal-length telephoto lens. When photographing birds from a vehicle in a game park, a good window support is useful.And,for photographing birds in flight,the shoulder stock is very helpful.

Use the slowest film possible for the conditions you are shooting under.If thelight is low, go with film in the ISO 200 and above range.On bright sunny days,you can use slower films such as ISO 50.

When photographing birds, study their reactions.If they become agitated - back off.Never put their safety into question. Avoid photographing nesting birds and also be sure not to stress a bird for the sake of a photograph.

With the right equipment and a little patience, you can get impressive results photographing birds.

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