General Guide To Photographing Birds


What Good Bird Photos Should Have 3

  • Photo showing the colour and shape of the bird
  • Detail of the face if possible
  • A bit of scenery showing it's location

A photo that is really blurry and does not have any detail of the bird or is too far way to make out the details may make it too hard to identify.

General Bird Photography Tips 3

  • Walk normally, don't try to sneak up on a bird as this is predator behavour and they are sensitive to that
  • Don't focus on the bird - I tend to wander around while keeping an eye on it. Once it realises that I am not a threat it will relax and go about it's business then I can get candid shots of it feeding, washing, cleaning feathers etc
  • Take more than one shot as a sudden movement can blur a photo and ruin it. With a digital camera you can take far more photos than when we used to have 35mm film. When I see a new bird I can take over 50 shots easily
  • Try and get the bird from different angles. Sometimes they will co-operate and move around for you and sometimes you will have to do the moving

Photographing Birds In Flight 3

Nothing is more annoying than seeing birds flying over and not getting clear shots of them, so follow these simple rules to get good photos of birds in flight.

  • Point your camera at the bird getting it in the middle of the view finder or screen.
  • Using your whole body - not just your neck and shoulders - follow the bird trying to keep it in the centre.
  • Click and take your photos.

Your camera may have a setting called sports or something similar which is for fast action shots so you could change to that. Also if you can change the shot settings on your camera you could change it to continuous shot. This means that when you press down the button you hold it down and the camera will take shot after shot. However, having said that I do not use the sports setting or the continuous shot as by the time I change it all the bird may be gone!

Finally practice with larger birds first - I took alot of shots of seagulls and now probably 80% of all my birds in flight photos are good. When I started it was about 10% !

Cropping Your Photos 3

Even though those beautuful shots that show a stunning landscape / seascape that has a dot in the picture of a bird somewhere may not be good enough to be able to identify the bird. The second and third photos have a bird in it, but you have to look really hard to see it, then look closer again to identify it.

So how do I find out what the bird is in the second and third photos? I crop it, removing all of the back ground distractions and focus just on the bird. The first photo above is the bird that is in the second photo. By cropping it I have removed the distraction of "Where is the bird?" search in the second and third photos and now people will be able to see the bird and those who know birds will be able to identify them for me :)

The forth photo is a crop from the third photo, and with the colours of the face clearly visable, this enabled me to get an id for the bird. I would not have been able to get that it I had uploaded the third photo.

Tweaking Photos 3

Check out the General Guide for Tweaking Photos for tips on how to:

  • Sharpen photos
  • Lighten photos
  • Fix washed out photos
  • Crop Photos

    Other Photo Guides 3

    Sources and Credits

    1. (c) tangatawhenua, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC), uploaded by tangatawhenua
    2. (c) tangatawhenua, all rights reserved, uploaded by tangatawhenua
    3. (c) tangatawhenua, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA)

    More Info

    iNaturalist NZ Map

    Photographing Birds