Top ten tips for photographing wild birds

Follow our ten quick tips to instantly make your photos of wild and garden birds look better. 

9th October 2014
©Thinkstock - Top ten tips for photographing wild birds

Follow our ten quick tips to instantly make your photos of wild and garden birds look better. 

1. You don't have to venture far to find wild birds to photograph - your back garden is a great place to start. Set up a bird feeder somewhere out of the reach of cats and give local birds a few weeks to get used to it, placing food out regularly. Alternatively, scope out nearby woodland or estuaries with visiting birds. 

2. Go out to shoot wild birds early in the morning or late in the afternoon. This is when birds are hungry and out searching for food. Plus, dawn and evening light makes for the best photographs as you'll avoid harsh midday sunlight. 

3. Your subjects will be a lot more confident if they can't see you. Trying using a birdwatching hide, sitting in your car or shooting from your kitchen window. 

4. Wildlife photography is all about patience. Avoid making loud noises or sudden movements, settle down and let the birds come to you. 

5. A tripod, monopod or flat surface to rest your camera on is a big help for getting a good composition and avoiding camera shake.

6. Wait until the bird you want to photograph is framed against a clean, unfussy background without bright contrasting colours. This will keep the eye of the viewer firmly on the bird. 

7. Whist you don't need a DSLR camera to get great pictures of wild birds, their fast shutter speeds are definitely a big help. Shoot at 1/250 - 1/700sec or higher to freeze the bird in place if they're perched, and switch to 1/1500 for flight shots. 

8. A shallow depth of field will make your bird really stand out from its surroundings. Always make sure that the bird's nearest eye is in focus and completely sharp. 

9. If your camera has it, switch to continous AF mode (also called Ai-Servo mode) when shooting birds in action, and your camera will keep your subject in focus. When photographing a bird about to perch, try pre-focusing on the branch first. 

10. Composition is key. Try shooting from the bird's eye level to create a portrait feel in your images, and watch out for interesting behaviour or interactions between birds that will give extra interest to your images. 


When you've put our tips into practise enter our wild bird photo contest!

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