Birds are astonishing creatures. They can take to the sky with such grace and land on the ground with a touch of elegance. And the sheer variety of species available makes them such a delight to capture. Whether they are soaring above alone or along with their pack, these feathered creatures make for wonderful subjects. However, the business of photographing birds in flight can be slightly tricky. A great deal of patience will be needed along with these tips:
Bring along the right gear
Choosing to photograph birds – or any wildlife for that matter – requires a bit of an investment. Capturing creatures roaming freely in cities or the countryside needs a telephoto lens at best; a kit lens around the 15-55mm variety can only do so much. You don’t have to spend all that much if you’re just getting into the groove of things: a 70-300mm will do quite fine.
Head to the right location
Birds congregate in areas where they can get food, and that usually means near the river, close to the beach, or by lakes. However, that doesn’t mean you have to frequently schedule trips to a nearby body of water just to get a shot of a bird taking flight. Sometimes, you can just stroll down the city and find all other sort of feathered creatures you can use as subjects. Having a different background to what’s normally expected adds to the creative factor of your photograph too.
Understand the behavior of birds
Understanding leads to anticipating which then results in great shots. Bird photography isn’t for the impatient. It takes time to get to know birds but taking the time to observe gives you ample opportunity to learn about when they take to the skies.
Opt for slow-flying birds
Practice makes perfect and sometimes, starting out with the birds that are the slowest flying of all is best. You need to practice holding your camera and focusing and choosing fast-flying birds on a first attempt might just yield frustrating results. Even photographing slow-flying birds on a first go might prove equally frustrating but the point being made here is practice. Egrets and herons tend to be slow so they make for good practice.
Use the right settings
A good location doesn’t always result in the best photographs; you also need the right camera settings to get a good shot. It’s best to start off with a low ISO setting to avoid grainy photos. Shutter speed should be at least 1/500 or higher since birds are quite fast. Going for a small aperture allows you a right balance between subject and the surroundings.
There are so many types of shots possible with birds in flight. You can capture them about to take flight from land or water. You can take a photo of them about to land. You can capture them flying solo or you can photograph them with the rest of the flock. Silhouettes of birds also make for more dramatic photos. Reflections in the water also make for great shots.
Patience and practice are keys to capturing great photos of birds in flight. Only a few of the hundred you take in a day will turn out good, but the point is to keep going at it to get better.