Animal Photography

Who Else Wants To Know How To Photograph Birds In Flight?

bird1Nature has a lot to offer as far as photography subjects are concerned. Aside from the breathtaking scenery that landscape photographers love to photograph, another popular subject for photographers is wildlife. Many photographers love the challenge that comes with capturing wildlife in action as this requires not only the right equipment but also the right technique.

bird1Nature has a lot to offer as far as photography subjects are concerned.  Aside from the breathtaking scenery that landscape photographers love to photograph, another popular subject for photographers is wildlife.  Many photographers love the challenge that comes with capturing wildlife in action as this requires not only the right equipment but also the right technique.

One common subject for photographers is birds.  Aside from being relatively easy to find, birds are lovely creatures and they come in a wide variety of colors and sizes.  One great challenge for photographers is photographing birds in flight and capturing their graceful motions.  Photographs of birds in motion are more dramatic and will evoke many emotions as compared to photos of birds in a stationary position.

When trying to take photos of birds in motion, you must have the right mindset.  If you were able to get great shots, thank Mother Nature for the chance and just laugh whenever you miss a shot.  Enjoy the experience and keep in mind the following techniques when trying to capture these graceful creatures in motion:

  • Camera Mode.  Use your camera’s manual mode as much as possible.  Your camera’s manual settings let you have uniform exposure with all angles.  Moreover, it minimizes variations in exposure due to changing light conditions during a birds’ flight.

bird2If you opt to use your camera’s automatic mode, remember that its automatic exposure modes can usually vary too much.  If you have no other choice but to use your camera’s auto mode, use the minimum shutter speed (i.e. 1/500th of a second) when photographing birds in flight.  Fast shutter speeds will let you freeze a birds’ body movement during flight and will let you capture its wings’ flapping motion.  Using fast shutter speeds also lets you have control of desirable blur of the bird’s wings.

  • Camera Speed And Aperture.  You must have the appropriate camera that can give you the speed you need to take breathtaking photographs of birds in flight.  Digital cameras with high shutter speeds of 1/500th of a second and more will be suitable.  Remember, fast shutter speed are needed to capture a bird that is in progressive motion.

Your choice of shutter speed and aperture would depend mostly on the tone and kind of  subject.  You can set your baseline settings at a shutter speed of 1/500th to 1/1300th per second and your aperture at f4.0 to f7.1.  If your subject is a white egret or other birds with brighter tones, try using a shutter speed of 1/800th and a minimum aperture of f6.3 to slightly underexpose it.  It is easier to pull out some details from underexposed imaged during the image editing process.

  • Camera Zoom.  Cameras with long zoom capabilities would be handy when photographing birds in flight.  You can take stunning photographs of flying birds or of birds about to take flights even if they are far away from you.  A camera with higher zooming capabilities is also needed if you want to follow your subject longer and farther.

Cameras with up to 3X zoom capabilities will limit you to subjects that are within close proximity.  If your camera does not have long zoom capabilities and you want to take photographs of birds in motion, try using it taking photos of birds in small ponds where there are usually ducks, gulls, or doves which are known to fly back and forth constantly.

  • Practice.  When photographing birds in motion, remember that the best condition to take photos of them is when there is lots of light.  With this, you can use the lowest ISO possible (if you need to) so that you’ll get the least amount of noise in your photograph.  It is also advisable to practice with good light settings so you can master your camera to enable you to make adjustments as needed.

As they say, practice makes perfect.  When practicing taking photos of birds in flight, familiarize yourself with your camera’s settings and pick the type of birds and place you want to practice in.  For starters, you can try practicing on gulls.  They are bigger, abundant in many areas, and easier to track.  They also move reasonably slowly and they have predictable flying patterns you can easily get accustomed to.

If you are intending on improving your skills or just learning the right way to take quality style photos download this DPS guide.

I hope this has been useful…

Ray Baker