Image Image Image Image Image



Bird Photography Tips: Shoot With a Purpose

1/100 sec F/5.6 ISO 800, Canon IDX, 600mm + 1.4x

1/100 sec F/5.6 ISO 800, Canon IDX, 600mm + 1.4x

In this image of the week, I continue to share some bird photography tips that will help improve the quality of your images and add purpose to your bird photography.

Photographing a bird in its habitat should be a purposeful effort, just because a bird is far from you doesn’t imply that it automatically becomes a habitat shot if you choose to shoot. Including the right elements is still imperative in telling the story about the bird and it’s surroundings.

Birds of the Peninsular Malaysian forests are extremely skittish and shy, as are all forest birds; add to that the complexity of the varied backgrounds, dappled and changing light and very uneven terrain. You only have few seconds at best to make exposure and composition decisions as these birds appear and quickly disappear. Before I arrive at my photographic destination I always decided on the type of images I want to make, in the image of the Streaked spiderhunter above that I photographed in Fraser’s Hill , I photographed the bird and made it a very small part of the larger story, by including it in its dense and heavy habitat I was able to bring out the forest in the bird. I also wanted to capture a bit of the birds life in the forest and make images that said something about it and how a shy bird lives and survives in these beautiful forests. The inquisitive and the alert look here is suggestive of it’s shy nature. Due to the shy nature of these forest birds, the action happens very fast, this beautiful Streaked Spiderhunter was there for a very few seconds.

Including the habitat depends on the situation and the distance from the bird, it is important for bird photographers to recognize this and then make the correct choice of lens to shoot with, in this case I used the 600mm lens as the bird was at a far distance, if you are shooting close to the bird then a wider lens can also be used. I choose a vertical in camera composition for this frame because the vertical hanging vine/fern complemented the frame in a manner which showed the birds habitat in it’s entirety. The composition adds balance to how we view this image from top to bottom, the vine extending out of the frame helps maintain a continuity to the frame.

Shooting with a purpose, preparing ahead of time and knowing the kind of images you want to make will help you in pre visualizing a scene and cut down your reaction time when you have just a few seconds to capture a fleeting moment of natures beauty.

Tags | , , , ,

 4 Responses 

  1. ranjith

    lik potography

  2. canvas photo

    great tips i love bird photography do you have any tips for photographing birds in winter thanks.

  3. Jayant Sethi

    It was s pleasure talking to you at the Keoladeo National Park. Your work is amazing. Can you share your experience with converters and their effect on the quality of the photograph. I have just started bird photography and hold a 7D with 400mm, 5.6.

    • Gaurav Mittal

      It was nice meeting you in Bharatpur. Please feel free to email me at if you have any questions.

 Submit a Comment