The primary goal of this blog is to help others become better photographers by sharing methods that I use in the field to capture great wildlife images.  My focus is primarily on birds however, I typically encounter all sorts of cool wildlife through my travels and adventures.

There is a lot of information on the internet about taking great photos so WHY READ THIS?

Here is the reason why:  Some of technical information on the internet makes you feel like you're reading right out of your camera's manual.  Be careful not to spend so much time stuffing your head with technical factoids that you don't leave room for creativity - you know - that thing that differentiates a great photographer from a mediocre one.  True, that knowing how to quickly set exposure to spot metering, or adjusting camera settings to back-button focus-will help increase the number of keepers on your memory card, but neither will help you in the least if you aren't in the field practicing technique and taking photographic risks - don't afraid to press the shutter button if it helps you to move to the next level.

Each of my blogs will introduce helpful tips and tricks to capturing better wildlife images!

Most Recent Blog:

Getting Close Enough

How to Approach Birds in the Wild

Perhaps I should have titled this "Getting Close Enough".  Getting Close to your live subject in the field is almost always challenging, but highly sought after since getting close means adding detail, expression and life to your image.  Every wildlife photographer wants a tack-sharp eye glaring back from their image, and details that make viewers feel as if they can reach out and touch the subject.

Because close is a relative term, I use it within the parameters of the photographer staying safe, the safety of the animal and capturing the image you want to portray.  Keep this in mind as you read the following tips that close enough to fill the frame with a warbler is far different than composing your shot of an 11 foot alligator!


5 Helpful Tips to Approaching Birds to Get the Shot

1 Don't stare.

I know sounds weird.  But have you ever felt unsettled when someone made eye contact for just a moment too long?  Uncomfortable right?  This 6th sense of alertness carries over into the avian world as well.  It makes complete sense since their predators stare at them too, so its a natural instinct that they start to become nervous.  As you approach a bird, look around and act natural like you're just passing by.  

2 Don't walk directly towards a bird or flock of birds.

Walking straight towards them is a threatening gesture and a sure way to drive them away.  Move slowly with no sudden movements in a zigzag pattern as you work your way in their direction.

3 Have your camera in position before you get too close.

Picture this - you've followed tips 1 and 2 and have worked your way 2 feet away from a rare bird (great job).  It notices you but continues to feed and forage and go about its business.  The early morning sun beams a perfect soft light, so you - LIFT UP YOUR GIANT TELEPHOTO LENS AND POINT IT RIGHT AT HIM!  He's gone.  Next time before you get too close, lift your camera at least part way up in front of your body so it minimizes the movement once you're ready to take a shot.

4 Take insurance shots.

Most of the time as you work your way toward the animal you wish to photograph, your proximity will become uncomfortable and it will flee (I do my best not to disturb wildlife and remain undetected).  Typically, I take what I refer to as "insurance shots".  Stop and take a couple of shots every few feet.  When your subject finally decides to get out of Dodge, you've gotten your shot as close up as possible and aren't left with a blank card.  Another advantage to this is that it forces you to capture different perspectives of the same animal - further away may add more depth to an image by including some of the surrounding habitat, while the close up will offer more detail to the subject.  Both can make compelling results.

5 Give them time to adjust to your presence.

Patience really pays off when photographing birds.  When first approached, most will be skittish, defensive or just fly off.  However if you pay attention to body movements it is possible to detect when they are getting ready to bail.  When you notice this, stop or slow down.  Once the bird resumes normal behavior like feeding, foraging, pruning etc. move in a few more yards (remember to take your insurance shots).  Once you've gotten within a comfortable distance wait!  I've snapped some real beauties just by exercising a little patience.  Be watchful for opening its mouth, stretching its wings, pruning, eating - oh and pooping - many times this signals that a bird is about to take flight, seriously.

Please let me know if this was helpful

  • No Comments
Powered by SmugMug Owner Log In