Basic Bird Photography Composition Tips
- Seven Common Mistakes in Bird Photography
- Use a Slower Shutter Speed for the Illusion of Motion in Bird Photography
photo by lavin photography via iStock
Birds are a wonderful photographic subject for anyone who enjoys wildlife photography. We can find these subjects in all sorts of easy to access places, including local parks and our own backyards or balconies.
For anyone wondering how to frame a shot of a bird in their urban, suburban, or rural neighborhoods and other helpful bird photography composition tips for crafting enjoyable views of these small subjects, here are five helpful tips.
Create Appealing Surroundings
photo by stanley45 via iStock
There are many spots we could travel to for capturing great bird photography shots. I like nature preserves and other wilderness areas. Local zoos are useful for having exotic birds in an easy to access venue.
With bird photography, one of the nice things is that we can see birds just about anywhere. Urban dwellers and suburbanites have almost as many opportunities to see birds as those living in rural areas or anyone on a nature excursion.
In our own yards or apartment balconies, we can create a pleasant environment to attract certain types. A hummingbird feeder springs to mind, but there are many ways to attract other species, a basic web search of the species common in our area will supply ideas.
For those of us in control of our own yard or a good balcony location, wildlife photography tips such as keeping manmade objects out of the line of sight between us and where the birds are will give us more workable images that we can craft into a pretty picture.
Isolate the Subject
photo by kojihirano via iStock
Being able to clean up and design a spot for our bird photography is nice for those with those options, but we can eliminate distractions in our images in any location with birds by isolating the subject from their surroundings.
A couple of bird photography composition tips that allow us to isolate our subjects are using longer lenses and positioning ourselves for a simple background. The third way is number 3 in our bird photography tips.
Perhaps the easiest of any bird photography composition tips is to be aware of the background as you take pictures. In the fairly controlled environment of our own yards, we can put our bird attractions in front of a blank wall, a fence, or bushes and trees.
Out in the wild, or the wild of a downtown street, we can track our subject and capture frames when they are in front of a clear expanse of sky, a building, or a tree.
Using a longer lens than the kit lens assists us in isolating our wildlife photography compositions by narrowing the angle of view. These lenses also provide extra magnification over our normal range of focal lengths.
It may require some practice to track the bird in motion with a long telephoto lens and to figure out what focus points and modes to use, but that’s not really difficult to get used to.
Use Selective Focus Techniques
photo by TheDman via iStock
This method for how to frame a shot of a bird involves more than camera position, it involves our exposure settings and a decent understanding of depth of field.
With a long focal length, focused relatively close, and using a wide lens aperture or fast f-stop, we can effectively isolate a subject with depth of focus only. Using a wide lens aperture creates a very shallow depth of focus, sometimes only a few feet or even inches deep.
If we choose this method for isolating our bird subject from foreground or background elements, we should be careful to focus on the head or the closest eye in order for the composition to appear natural.
Favor Fast Shutter Speeds
photo by Janet Griffin-Scott via iStock
Birds move pretty fast sometimes. Not only is their flight movement swift, but just sitting in a perch, their body movements can be quite rapid and jerky.
A faster shutter speed will prevent unwanted subject blur due to motion, unless your creative vision wants that subject blur to be a part of the image, that can look interesting, too.
Since we’re using wider lens apertures for selective focus, our shutter speeds will run towards the fast end anyways. If we’re shooting in marginal light levels, we might need to increase the sensor ISO in order to achieve those faster shutter speeds.
Recompose and Recrop in Post-Processing
photo by agustavop via iStock
What if, after using all of these bird photography composition tips, we still don’t have exactly the framing and composition we wanted in the first place? If our image files are high resolution, we can use our post-processing program to reframe and crop in order to get the final image
There is a limit to how much “zooming in” we can do with our files, so it still makes sense to know how to frame a shot of a bird before getting to our post-processing program. That way, we’re just tweaking composition, framing, and magnification, instead of attempting to radically change things.
We can also use post-processing to create selective focus in our image, though it does take a steady hand to do it well.
Wait For It…
photo by srniak via iStock
Finally, we’ll add one last thing to these bird photography composition tips, the need to be patient in order to get the best shot. Sometimes, the birds may need to get used to you, other times you need to wait for the right birds or the right light.
Any way you look at it, bird photography, whether in the wild or in our own backyard is a lot of fun and can result in some incredible photos for our enjoyment.