I can’t think of a better way to spend my Saturday mornings than next to my kitchen bay window – a cup of hot coffee in one hand, camera in the other. Listening to the birds and watching them at my window is the perfect start to any day. And, their diversity in color, shape, and size make birds a fantastic subject for practicing my photography skills.
However, taking pictures of birds can be challenging, especially when the bird is in flight. The good news is that you don’t need to be a professional photographer to take advantage of your backyard birding paradise. Here are a few simple tips to ensure you take memorable pictures of your backyard birds.
- Photograph birds when they are most active, which is usually in the early morning and again in the early evening. Look for photograph opportunities in your backyard habitat during these times. Make sure to observe your birds first to determine when they are most active in your part of the country and photograph them during those times. My best photographs are usually taken around 7am and again between 4pm and 5pm.
- Photograph birds where they are most active. Sit quietly with your camera near the plants or trees the birds in your backyard most prefer and wait for the birds to come to you. Make yourself comfortable in the process and apply the right amount of mosquito repellent or sunscreen as needed. Also, bring along a beverage and snack. The more comfortable you are the more patient you’ll be.
- Fill the frame when photographing your birds. Use the zoom feature on your digital camera or a telephoto lens to make the bird appear as large as possible in your photograph. The bird should take up most of your viewing window. Tight close shots allow you to focus on the details of every feather, movement, and feature, all of which make up the bird’s personality.
- Place feeders next to windows when the weather outside doesn’t cooperate and make sure the screen is up and the window is clean. The great thing about photographing birds is that you don’t always have to be outside to get a stunning shot.
- Attract birds to your feeders by wrapping a piece of tin foil around the top of the feeder. The birds will respond to the sun reflecting on the foil. Also, bright colored feeders will attract the birds, too.
- Experiment with your camera settings and different angles. Get familiar with your camera settings and try different shutter speeds and lighting. Also, play with your depth of field and adjust the focus on and off of the bird in the frame. Birds don’t need to fit squarely in the frame to make an interesting photograph. Pictures of birds hanging upside down or slightly off centered can be equally intriguing.
- Attract a variety of birds to your photo shoot by offering a variety of flavors and place settings. Vary the food in your feeders and you’ll vary the bird species to photograph. Black oil sunflower is the hands-down favorite of all the birds that visit tube and house type feeders, including chickadees, cardinals, titmice, and finches.
- Use a variety of attractive feeders for photographing birds. Bird feeders need not be expensive to be attractive and variety will spice up your photographs. Some store-bought feeders are quite pretty, but also try your hand at some inexpensive yet functional home-made feeders for added appeal. You will find plenty of creative ideas online.
I’m not a professional photographer but I constantly receive affirming and positive comments about my bird pictures. Follow these simple steps and you will too!