Wing tips: Photo tips for better bird shots (Part one)

I have often been fascinated by birds. Perhaps it’s mainly because they can fly, and as a kid I would desire of soaring with the eagles. It might be that they are like a window into the distant earlier, with birds typically explained as dwelling dinosaurs. Or it could just be that they typically have quirky personalities and arrive in so quite a few intriguing sorts.

Superb Fairy Wrens have always eluded me. It wasn’t until I spent some time watching their movements that I noticed they kept returning to the same tree. So I set up and waited patiently to capture this image. Panasonic G9, Leica DG 100-400/F4.0-6.3 lens @ 400mm. 1/500s @ f8, ISO 3200.
Superb Fairy Wrens have normally eluded me. It was not until I used some time observing their movements that I recognized they held returning to the very same tree. So I established up and waited patiently to capture this graphic. Panasonic G9, Leica DG 100-400/F4.-6.3 lens @ 400mm. 1/500s @ f8, ISO 3200.

Whichever the explanations, I have usually been drawn to birds and when I took up images additional severely, they swiftly turned my favourite topics to capture.

In Australia, we are really spoilt for birdlife and now that I uncover myself residing at the foot of Sydney’s Blue Mountains, birdlife is in abundance all about. It indicates I never have to go much to see birds of all kinds, and likelihood are if you’re examining this in Australia, you are going to be surrounded by birds way too.

In this useful guideline to chook pictures, I want to share with you some guidelines and tactics I have acquired more than the years to seize visuals of birds I am very pleased of.

Regent Bowerbirds are small, fast and probably the most challenging birds to capture in flight I have encountered. The focus system on my camera could not react fast enough, so I set my focus to manual, and adjusted my focal point to the path that they were flying. I took hundreds of images over a number of days to capture only a handful of sharp images, so to say that a capture like this is rewarding is an understatement! Panasonic G9, Leica DG 100-400/F4.0-6.3 lens @ 105mm. 1/1600s @ f5.6, ISO 6400.
Regent Bowerbirds are smaller, quickly and in all probability the most challenging birds to capture in flight I have encountered. The aim method on my camera could not react quickly more than enough, so I established my focus to guide, and adjusted my focal issue to the route that they had been traveling. I took hundreds of visuals above a amount of days to capture only a handful of sharp photos, so to say that a seize like this is fulfilling is an understatement! Panasonic G9, Leica DG 100-400/F4.-6.3 lens @ 105mm. 1/1600s @ f5.6, ISO 6400.


Prior to we get to machines and settings, let’s converse about realizing your topic. It is uncomplicated plenty of to shoot a fowl on a branch, but if you sit back and review them for a when you will come to comprehend one thing about their conduct. This will place you on the ideal route from getting a very good photograph and turning it into a stunning a single.

All birds have unique patterns and quirks. If you view them long plenty of you will recognise feeding styles, flight paths and other distinctive behaviours. You may possibly even like to do some study on a unique species that you want to goal, this will give you extra perception into their habitat, behaviour, and rituals.

Just one quirk numerous birds have is that they are likely to choose a ‘potty break’ just before they get off. So, although you are ready for a perched chicken to take flight remind yourself this, “They get a dump ahead of they leap. If you see the poo, you know what to do.”

To capture a sharp image of a hummingbird you need to have your shutter speed set to around 4000/s, however in this image I decided to lower my shutter speed to the point where the wings were blurred, but the body, head and flower were in sharp focus. It’s not easy, and there was a lot of trial and error to capture this image! Panasonic G9, Leica DG 100-400/F4.0-6.3 lens @ 236mm. 1/320s @ f8, ISO 800.
To capture a sharp picture of a hummingbird you need to have your shutter pace set to all over 4000/s, however in this graphic I determined to decreased my shutter velocity to the place where by the wings were being blurred, but the system, head and flower had been in sharp focus. It’s not effortless, and there was a ton of trial and mistake to capture this graphic! Panasonic G9, Leica DG 100-400/F4.-6.3 lens @ 236mm. 1/320s @ f8, ISO 800.


There’s no acquiring absent from it, chicken photography needs pretty precise gear in your package. And just before you consider the proper digicam, you require to consider about the ideal lens to get the occupation carried out.

A telephoto lens of at least 400mm is a must, until you approach to spend most of your time photographing at a zoo or hen display the place you’ll be equipped to get a great deal nearer to your topics.

Numerous bird photographers opt for to use a fastened telephoto lens somewhere among 400-800mm, but I want to use a zoom lens. This will allow me to change my subject of check out as expected. Birds not often dangle around for extensive and the much more time it requires you to reposition your shot, the additional probable you are to overlook it.

The cause you are going to see professional photographers applying big preset focal length lenses is that they are usually ‘fast’, which implies they have a more substantial greatest aperture than a zoom lens. In switch, this allows much more light into the digicam sensor and will allow for quicker shutter speeds and considerably less sounds. Having said that, except if you are creating income from your bird images, it’s tough to justify the cost of a single of these specialised resources, which could set you again easily $20,000 or much more.

Incredibly, in 2012 Leica manufactured a just one off custom 1600mm f5.6 lens with a hefty price tag tag of around $2M USD. It needed a customized 4WD to have the lens as a mobile tripod. I reckon that may well be overkill!

My weapon of preference is the most popular wildlife focal size of 100-400mm connected to a Lumix G9.

Currently being that this is a Micro 4 Thirds program the lens has an equal focal size of 400-800mm in full frame phrases. It is also light-weight at less than 1kg, a big furthermore when shooting handheld, and it can simply in shape in a backpack or satchel.

I took this image of a Great Egret whilst testing the Sony A1. I had the focus set to eye tracking and the bright sunlight conditions allowed me to capture a very sharp sequence of the bird taking off using a fast motor drive. Sony A1, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens @ 185mm. 1/6400s @ f5.6, ISO 1000.
I took this graphic of a Terrific Egret although screening the Sony A1. I experienced the concentration established to eye monitoring and the bright daylight circumstances allowed me to capture a really sharp sequence of the hen taking off using a quick motor travel. Sony A1, FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens @ 185mm. 1/6400s @ f5.6, ISO 1000.


The target of most bird photographers is to seize a sharp image of a chicken, and to do this you ought to pick the ideal shutter speed. Birds can shift incredibly promptly, and if you want to freeze the motion of a bird in flight, the minute it normally takes off, or some other activity, then you will need to have a rapidly shutter pace. A great starting off stage is at the very least 1/2000s.

Commonly, you really should open your aperture to its widest location to enable as significantly light-weight as you can to achieve the sensor, but you will have to have to balance this from the depth of area, or what is in focus and what isn’t, in the shot.

Your precedence must be to get at the very least the eyes in sharp concentration for a ‘successful’ impression but based on the mild you may like to near your aperture a few of stops to continue to keep more of the bird’s head and overall body sharp.

On best of this, you will have to have to balance your ISO. Shell out some time testing the limitations of your digital camera, and you will before long make a decision on a optimum ISO and stage of sounds that you are relaxed to shoot with.

For me this is 3200, however, I will shoot at 6400 if it usually means that I get the shot as a noisy impression is normally improved than a blurry just one.

Last of all, have your digicam established to a quick motor push. A lot of new programs will shoot up to 30 frames for each second and this can aid you in capturing the decisive instant.

Glance out for component two subsequent week.

About the author: Tim Robinson is the creator of the Tv program Snap Satisfied, the pictures exhibit. He has been shooting experienced movie for about two many years, with a aim on telling people’s stories through documentary. He is a keen wildlife and nature photographer and enjoys the chance to incorporate his passion of movie making with photography.