December 6, 2023

Some advanced tips on bird photography

I recently wrote an article introducing beginner photographers to bird photography’s wonderful world. I will share some more insights and tips on bird photography in this discussion.

Advanced cameras settings

If you plan to capture beautiful bird photography, your camera settings should always be on the money. Never shoot in manual mode or aperture priority mode. Depth of field is something that you don’t have to worry about. Long lenses can capture shallow depth of field. Thanks to the long focal length and the considerable distance between the camera and the subject, it is possible to capture a shallow depth of field without any issues.

Shoot in shutter priority mode. This will lock the shutter speed in place. The camera will automatically dial in the aperture.

Switch to Auto ISO. This will ensure that your camera can automatically dial the correct ISO number to compensate for the lack of light whenever required.

What should be the correct shutter speed for shooting bird photos? The ballpark figure is 1/1000. That should give you enough leverage to shoot sharp photos of birds. For birds that are moving, opt for a faster shutter speed. Something in the range of 1/2000 would give you the best results. Of course, you will have to experiment and figure out the best shutter speed on case-to-case basis.

Use a crop camera

Using a crop camera gives you the advantage of using the crop factor. The crop factor extends the effective focal length of your lens and gives more bang for your money. Let’s say that you own a 200-500mm lens. On a crop camera like the D500, the effective focal length of that lens is 300-750mm. That’s a huge advantage considering that now you have an extended reach. The D500 is a top recommended camera in the Nikon stable. The Canon EOS 90D would be a recommended Canon camera in the same range.

Educate yourself

Most beginners charge into the woods armed with a superzoom and a fast camera, hoping they find something on the way. Professionals don’t do that. They spend a lot of time teaching themselves every minute detail about their target subjects. So, things like where to find them, what are their feeding habits, their mating habits, how to locate them, and how they react to external stimuli are some of the things that they would teach them. Books on birding are a great source of educating themselves about birds and their behavior.

Master the art of post-processing

Nobody comes into the world knowing about post-processing. It’s an acquired art that takes considerable time and energy to master. It would help if you spent hours learning about and incorporating what you learned into your photo editing. You need to know how to pop the colors, increase contrast, reduce noise and sharpen your photos without introducing artifacts into your photos. There are so many resources where you can pick up basic post-processing skills. You can additionally join a course that will give you more details on post-processing techniques.

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