photographing birds - blue titAs mentioned elsewhere on my website, I’m a keen amateur photographer not a seasoned professional and I’m learning all the time about what works and what doesn’t. My two favourite subjects are deer and birds, both of which present their own challenges but photographing birds is perhaps the most challenging when it comes to getting that good crisp pic.

When photographing birds, good equipment is essential – you need a camera that is capable of high shutter speeds and a lens of 400mm or longer to enable you to get close enough for a decent pic. I found that my bird photography improved significantly when I invested in the Nikon 200/500mm zoom lens to attach to my Nikon D750 camera. I previously used a Nikon 70/300mm zoom which was OK for the common “people friendly” species but limited when it came to others. If your camera processor is good enough you can crop your photos in post production with apps/programs such as Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom to get a close up image while still retaining enough detail. However, this requires a quality lens and a camera with a high megapixel capability to get acceptable results.

However, it doesn’t matter how good your camera is or how long your lens is if you don’t know how and where to find your subjects, so having an understanding of birds and their behaviour is just as important – an area that I need to improve upon!. Stating the obvious, different birds set different challenges. Some will almost pose for you while others can prove either elusive hidden in vegetation or fly off at the mearest hint of your presence. At one extreme, the Robin is a very photogenic subject who will happily tolerate your close proximity while the Kingfisher presents a real challenge and requires a hide to get a decent shot. Others have such good camouflage that you hardly ever see them until you unintentionally flush them out – Nightjar and Woodcock are two such examples that I have never managed to photograph.

If new to bird photography, a good place to start is your own garden. I have a reasonably sized garden and feed birds throughout the year which attracts a good variety of smaller birds. By positioning a sizeable branch near the feed table for them to perch on, I have been rewarded with some good pics of Goldfinch, Siskin, Nuthatch, etc. Otherwise, I try and get to know preferred habitats of different species to see if I can find them and we are extremely lucky in the New Forest to have such a great variety of habitats – woodland, lowland heath, coastline and salt marshes.

Basically, patience and perseverance are needed in large quantitities when photographing birds – no photo is worth frightening or unecessarily disturbing a bird to get a pic. If you are a true nature lover, your first priority should be the well-being of the subjects you photograph. If they move away from you or appear agitated, you are too close.  Back off, and don’t approach so close again.

Good luck – hope you enjoy my galleries.