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Bird photography: 8 things to think about (other than camera settings)

By February 7th, 2022Out and about...3 min read
Beautiful Firetail sitting on branch with nesting material in beak
Looking up to a Wedge-tailed Eagle flying overhead

OK, so a suitable camera and lens, knowing what camera settings to use, and developing an appropriate photographic technique are all elements of success for any type of photography. And, of course, this includes bird photography.

However, there are a number of things worthy of consideration in addition to these; and it’s not only about having specialty camera gear or equipment. If you’re just starting out, there’s a few non-technical considerations worth being aware of.

  1. Season – In spring it’s breeding season, in summer birds will less likely be out and about in the middle of the day. In different seasons you will notice different behavioural characteristics.
  2. Habitat – Know the range and habitat – identify a species that you’d like to photograph and learn about its habitat. Doing so allows you to plan your photo shoot ahead of time.
  3. 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.
  4. Stop, look, listen – Resist the temptation to always be on the move. 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.
  5. Patience – Birdwatching and photography definitely have this in common – without patience you will be more likely to zip by and miss many bird sightings.
  6. Know your camera – Knowing where the buttons and dials are will help you drive your camera as if you have your eyes closed.
  7. 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.
  8. Wear suitable clothing – Consider wearing ‘quiet’ clothing and avoid bright colours so as not to distract the birds.
  9. Ethics – First and foremost, it’s all about the birds. The welfare of birds and their habitat always comes first. It’s important to NOT   stress birds and wildlife at any time, not disturb their habitat (including nests), at any time, including while in the pursuit of a photograph. We encourage you to read one or both of the following published by Birdlife Australia and Birdlife Photography, respectively:
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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