of Song Bird Photography"
If you have a relatively good camera and a lot of patience, there's no
reason why you can't take some very satisfactory photographs of your Feathered
Friends. We hope you find this short Tutorial to be helpful.
In today's Digital World, it's no wonder that Digital Cameras are outselling
Film Cameras by a very large margin. There is no delay or cost of developing.
The Viewer will let you check photos as you snap them and allow you to erase
or replace them. They will keep clicking shots off as long as you hold the
button down, and a postage stamp-sized Chip will hold 500+ photos.
Many stores will print Paper Photos
for you, or you can print them with your Computer's Printer. It's a simple
matter to put the Photos in your computer and e-mail them to friends and
relatives around the world in 5 minutes. Then they can print them with their
A Camera with a powerful Telephoto Lens will allow you to get close-up
photos without being near the subject. But a Telephoto setting necessitates
the use of a Tripod or other device to steady the camera. Blur caused by
moving the camera is increased with Telephoto shots. Some modern Cameras
have electronics designed to minimize this blur.
An Optical Telephoto or "Zoom" of 10x or 12x is very helpful
in photographing wildlife. Many Digital Cameras also have Digital Zoom
which is often less desirable than Optical Zoom, especially when the photographs
are enlarged. Often there are blocks of color instead of a smooth transition
from one color shade to another.
A fast Shutter Speed is also very helpful. It will allow you to capture
a half-closed blinking eye without the blur associated with motion. Old
film Cameras commonly used speeds of 1/30 and 1/60 of a second. Newer Cameras
will be found with 1/1000 second which will stop a race horse with all four
feet off the ground, and minimal motion blur.
Burst Mode allows you to shoot a "Burst" of shots in fast sequence. The
Button is held down and the shutter keeps clicking off shots. You may be
able to take a shot at the next Family Reunion with all blinking eyes open
and all yawning mouths closed.
If you're going to take pictures of Birds, you must go to the Birds or
bring them to you. An Aviary may be a good choice. Or a nearby stream which
is frequented by Birds. Or your own back yard with its Bird Baths, Bird Feeders
and Water Attractions.
Whichever you choose, note the frequented resting perches that Birds use
to survey the landscape before they eat, drink, or visit their nests.
They will sit on these same limbs and twigs to make sure the "coast is clear"
before attracting themselves or their nests to predators.
A Blind set up with the Camera focused on these resting spots will be
more successful than a Camera which is hanging from your neck. A Blind can
be your house, or car, or a camo Tarp stretched between Tree limbs or draped
over a wash line. (That's where housewives used to hang wet laundry before
Dryers and Malls were invented).
Time of day is important in outdoor photography where lighting is hard
to control. At high noon on a sunny day, there will be dark shadows under
Human hats, noses, and chins. Birds cast shadows, too. And so do leaves.
These shadows are minimized on an overcast or cloudy day, but then the colors
will be less vibrant.
The best timing may be morning or evening with the Sun low and behind
your back, and no wind to move limbs, leaves, and Feathers. This just happens
to be the time of day when many Birds are most active at back yard Feeders.
Backgrounds can make or ruin an otherwise great photo. The background
should be contrasting but not glaring. Taking a photo of a Crow on a limb
against white house siding will likely wash out any details of the Crow,
leaving you with a black silhouette. Likewise, a brown Sparrow against brown
Leaves may virtually disappear on a photo. So a happy medium is a realistic
Note the Gold Finch photo above. That background is not retouched. It
is so far out of focus that the far off Trees and mountains have become pastel
blurs which draws your eye to the subject instead of trying to interpret
the background as subject matter.
The distance between the subject and the background will determine your
ability to "use" the background. If the subject and the background
are close together, it's hard to focus on the subject without including the
background in the sharp area. But if they are farther apart you can blur
the background making the subject appear more distinct from the blurred background.
A good rule of thumb is to have the subject half way between you
and the background. That will allow you to have the background relatively
sharp, or have it slightly blurred to increase the three dimensional effect,
or to create an unidentifiable rendition of soft splotches.
The f-stop or Lens opening has a major influence on this intentional blurring.
If the subject is stationary like a Flower, you can just open the Lens to
f2 or less (smaller number) and focus the lens on the subject to blur the
background. But if there is any anticipated motion, or the subject is too
bright, then you will have to "stop down"(smaller Lens opening) and
lose some of the blur.
Of course, if your Camera is completely automatic, you can just click
away and hope for the best. Just remember the Professional Photographer's
Rule #1: Snap lots of photographs; because like Lottery Tickets - the more
you have, the greater your chance that you have a winner.