8 things to think about while photographing birds

By October 15, 2019 October 23rd, 2019 Out and about...

8 things to think about while photographing birds

Beautiful Firetail sitting on branch with nesting material in beak
Looking up to a Wedge-tailed Eagle flying overhead

Some people are photographers first and birdwatchers second (like us)… for others it is birdwatching first, photography second. Which is it for you?

Not that it matters though, because whichever way round it is for you, photography and birdwatching are terrifically paired activities, enjoyed independently or together.

For us, we were (and still are) nature photographers to start with. From there, our passion for birding developed as a natural course. When it comes to photographing birds, you could say that we aim to document our bird sightings through our photos – although we often do see and hear many more birds that just don’t want to perch or fly past within photographing distance. When it comes to planning our outings, as nature photographers we enjoy photographing all things that make up our remarkable natural world, and this includes birds and wildlife in their natural habitats. Over the years, we have strengthened our knowledge for Tasmanian birds, their habitats, characteristics and behavioural patterns. Our knowledge for both is why our tours and tuition experiences are well suited to amateur birdwatchers and photographers alike – especially, if you wish to combine both activities.

Why I love photographing birds…

There are so many reasons why I love to photograph birds but here’s my shortlist:

  • I get outside – although I am an outdoorsy person anyway, so that’s not such a challenge for me in any season.
  • It’s an opportunity to learn a lot about different bird species, their habitats, and behaviours throughout the seasons.
  • You never know what you may see… hearing, seeing, and identifying different birds is so rewarding.
  • Photography is a very mindful activity. You can totally absorb yourself in the photography birds, giving yourself a chance to spend time enjoying the moment. And you don’t always have to have your camera on your eye.
  • Bird photography encourages photographic creativity. As much as I have captured some incredible images of many different bird species, there’s always room for improvement – it’s a lifelong journey to capture ‘the shot’. That may be the one in flight, feeding a chick, behaviour and adaptations in different seasons, foraging for nesting materials, and so much more.
  • The chance to ‘discover’ a new species – that is ‘new’ for me, not for the planet! Sometimes this is about a seeing a species in a place or location where you haven’t seen it before.
  • Photographing birds brings a sense of joy, wonder, adventure, and achievement – there’s such a variety of species, characteristics, songs, and colour. From tiny little birds like the Tasmanian Thornbill in the forest to Hooded Plovers along the coastal shorelines, cockatoos screeching in flocks, or massive eagles soaring high above in the sky. Perched or in flight, singing or interacting with other birds – there’s there’s a diversity of photographic opportunities with bird photography.
  • You don’t have to venture out too far to find birds to photograph – whether you remain in your backyard or go to a park just down the road, or a forest, lagoon, or national park a little further afield. You can stay in one place and wait for the birds come near you.
  • Last but not least… birds aren’t bothered whether you take their photo of their good or not so good side … this is why I have many a photo of bird bottoms!

With the weather warming up and daylight hours extended, are you ready to explore the great outdoors again?

8 things to think about when photographing birds

  • Season – Consider the season. For instance, in spring it’s breeding season, in summer they’ll less likely to be out and about in the middle of the day. In different seasons you will observe see different behavioural characteristics.
  • Habitat – Know the range and habitat – consider identifying a species that you’d like to photograph and learn about its habitat. Then if you do want a photo of a particular bird then plan your photo shoot ahead of time.
  • Behaviour – Get to know birds by their behaviour. Is it calling (might be with its mate or a flock nearby)? Is it swiftly flitting about? If it is moving about a lot, then focus on a branch that it returns to time and again.
  • Stop, look, listen – Resist the temptation to always stay on the move. Consider stopping to stand still for a little while, especially if you’ve heard a bird nearby. Birds are more likely to come closer to you if you stay in one spot, instead of always moving about.
  • Patience – Birdwatching and photography definitely have this in common – without patience you will be more likely to zip by and miss many bird sightings.
  • Know your camera – Knowing where the buttons and dials are will help you drive your camera as if you have your eyes closed.
  • Don’t take your eye off the bird – Lift your camera to your eye, rather than the other way around. Once you’ve sighted a bird, keep your eyes on it at all times – at least until it flits off out of sight. This is when knowing your camera better comes in handy.
  • Wear suitable clothing – Wear ‘quiet’ clothing and avoid bright colours so as not to distract the birds.
A pair of male Fairy-wrens sitting atop a tree interacting - maybe a dispute about territory?
Silhouette of a Australasian Grebe paddling in the morning light

Are you a shutterbug visiting or living in Tasmania and wanting to photograph birds? We have a few different ways that you can incorporate bird photography into a photography experience – from a range of photo-oriented tours taking you to a destination or more boasting lots of birdlife, or a dedicated bird photography tuition session.

Simply get in touch with us to discuss what it is that you most want to do.

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