What is Bird Photography?
These days Photography, whether as a hobby or a passion or a profession, has gained popularity all over the world. Photography is looked upon as an Upcoming Art throughout the country. With this increase in popularity, we see a variety of genres of photography being introduced.
Earlier, photography was limited to a few, but now we see a wide variety of genres of photography. One of the most popular, old, relatively difficult and challenging genre of photography is ‘Bird Photography’. Though, being a sub-category of Wildlife Photography, Bird Photography makes its own identity in this field. Bird watching is popular among most of the people in the world. People choose to go for Bird-Watching during weekends, Holidays, Short trips etc. Bird Watching proves to be a soothing experience for the mind.
I was amazed to see kids of age 13-14, having a keen interest in Bird-Watching and having a greater knowledge about different species of Birds. We see people from all professions for example, Doctors, Engineers etc. having an interest in Bird-watching. Bird-Watchers often love to capture their memories in their cameras. You often see some beautiful birds in your surroundings and want to capture that bird in our camera or mobile camera but before you get your camera ready, the bird has flown away. Here, Bird Photography comes into existence.
Bird Photography is one of the most challenging genres of photography. It requires a lot of patience, will, dedication, love for nature and birds and of course a lot of practice. Interest in Bird Photography develops slowly as you explore more and soon you find yourself addicted to it. It motivates you to travel and explore more.
I have seen many beginners trying to approach birds by running behind them, or trying to throw stones at birds in order to capture photos of them during their flight, which is totally wrong. These activities frighten the birds and in some cases may also reduce the number of birds in that particular area. You need to have patience to get the desired shot of a bird in a particular action. In bird photography, nothing is predictable.
You may be informed by a local person that a sighting of a particular bird will happen on a particular day but when you actually go on the field you may spot nothing. Sometimes you explore some area and you get many rare species to see and on the other day on the same location you don’t get to see anything. Everything in Birding is un-predictable. You will see some action or some bird but by the time you prepare your camera to shoot, the moment is already gone.
Birding needs a lot of practice. You should be able to control your breath, get to the birds without alerting them, by camouflaging yourself etc. In short, bird photography is not as easy as you think. You will experience these things when you get down on photographing birds in the field.
How can I start with Bird Photography?
If you haven’t done Bird photography in your lifetime and want to begin then start practicing by yourself at your home.
First of all explore your camera and lenses that you have, its simple, whenever you have free time or you are sitting idly at home, take your camera in your hand and start clicking photos of different objects at your with different settings in different light conditions. Try out different camera modes, explore all that your camera can do, know your camera to the fullest, know your cameras potentials, and make your camera your best friend.
Make use of lenses that you have and make best out of them. Explore and explore some more. While you go out in the field for birding, you don’t have much time to change settings. You have to be extremely rapid in changing them. By the time you move your eye from view finder, change the settings of your camera and then again get back to shooting, the subject is already gone out of your eye sight. Ahhh ! That’s the main problem faced by almost every photographer who has just started his/her journey in Bird Photography.
Here’s a small trick to get used to your camera and change your camera settings rapidly. In the night, get yourself in a room where there is no one in the room. Switch off the lights. Now there is complete darkness around you and make sure no light is coming in from window. Now take the camera in your hand. Now turn off your screen and information mode of camera (If you have 270° rotating screen then turn the screen and close it). Now try changing your camera settings by just moving your fingers all over the camera. Now that’s the real challenge! You would say how can I change settings without being able to see what button I am pressing? I know it would be difficult to change the settings of your camera this way but after a few days of practicing with the same technique your hand and fingers will get used to it and you will be able to change the camera settings easily without looking at it because your mind and fingers will already know where the buttons are. This will help you when you are in the field photographing birds, you won’t need to move your eyes off the view finder to change the settings.
After you know your camera and lenses well and know to change, now it’s time to get down to the act itself. You can start with this by simply shooting from home. You always see some beautiful birds around your residence and always wanted to capture their image in your camera. So start with those birds.
It’s obvious that you won’t know the names of the birds that you see but just try your hands on Bird photography, try out different compositions, different actions etc.Start by capturing simple Birds like pigeons, crows that you usually see around you. Work upon your previous photography knowledge, compositions to start with.In the future as you will get used to this, then you can gradually shift to perching birds and then explore various places around you to photograph different birds.
Are telephoto lenses necessary for Bird Photography?
A common misconception in the minds of photographers is that Bird Photography is all about having good equipment, full frame camera, long telephoto lenses etc.I always say that photography is not about having expensive equipment, but about skills and how you use the equipment you have to the fullest. Same applies to Bird Photography.
Yes, I do agree that having a Long telephoto lens gives you better results, close-up shots of the Birds, but you can always get good Habitat shots as well as close-up shots with your Kit lenses.Being a beginner/amateur photographer, I would suggest using whatever equipment you have and make the best of it. Even a Point and Shoot camera works best at times.
Even your kit lens gives you better results. I believe that kit lenses give you good sharpness. You can shoot habitat shots with these lenses.You can even get good close-up shots of birds if the bird is near. Do your best with whatever equipment you have. I have been using kit lenses for birding since a long time and it has given me fantastic results.
In initial stages use your own kit lenses for birding later on as you progress in this field you can buy telephoto lenses. Here is the photo of ‘Shikra’(Female) that I had taken using my 55-200mm kit lens.
So wrapping up, Bird Photography is one of the most challenging genres of photography. You need to practice. You need to have a lot of patience in order to get desired shots.Sometimes you have to visit a specific spot for many days and wait for many hours to get a shot. Be aware of the birds that you see, don’t disturb them. Don’t alert them, which might frighten them. Practise and practise more. Get your free time utilised. Make the best out of your equipment.Explore various locations around you during weekends. Get addicted to Birding. Then see, how it interests you explore more and more!