One of the things most photographers want to do once they have a basic knowledge of the camera is to capture pictures of animals and wildlife, and the one that probably tops the list are birds. All of us have seen some jaw dropping images of birds, and now that we have a camera, we decide that we can do the same.  So we go out and take images of birds, come back home all excited, and then after we have downloaded the images, we realize that we don’t have any images worth keeping.

Canon EOS 1DMark lll – ISO 100 / F8 @ 1/400 sec

So what went wrong?

There is a bit of homework that needs to be done before we set out.  The first thing that we need to know is what kind of birds we plan to make pictures of. Secondly, it would help if we could understand a bit about their behavior. Most birds are not too happy to be around humans, having said that, if you can be quiet, don’t move around too much, wear clothes that blend in with the surroundings, then your chances of being able to get close to the bird is much greater.

Birds get more comfortable when they do not feel threatened…if a bird starts approaching and you remain still, or make very slow movements, the bird will probably come quite close to you, an after a while even start exhibiting its natural behavior.

Canon EOS 1D Mark III – ISO 100 / F8 @ 1/400 sec

Birds are fast, and in order to be able to capture their movements it is advised to go to shutter speeds of 1/1000th of a second or even higher, in order to freeze movement. You could get more creative shots if you slow down the shutter speed, however, you need to remember that using a telescopic lens and a slow shutter speed often results in a lot of camera shake.

Canon EOS 1D Mark III – ISO 200 / F 6.3 @ 1/1600 sec

The use of a tripod is also recommended for bird photography as it offers a lot of stability while focusing. However, in many cases this could be a deterrent as well, especially with birds that are fast moving, or move in erratic patterns.

Canon EOS 1D Mark III – ISO 200 // F 6.3 @ 1/3200 sec

Patience is key when dealing with any kind of wildlife. The more you wait, respect the animals presence, be mindful of its behavior, stay at a reasonable distance, – the sooner it will get comfortable with your being there and will start to relax. Which is exactly what you have been waiting for, because now the animal/bird will start going about its normal daily routine without having to worry about a threat from you.

Canon EOS 1D Mark III – ISO 400 / F 8 @ 1/1250 sec

Probably the best time for birding is early in the morning. The light is just right, the shadows are not too harsh, and the birds tend to go about their natural behavior as soon as they get used to your being there. The more time you spend with these animals, the better you get to understand their behavior, and this will help you to get some really good images of them.

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