Take flight! A bird in the hand… I’ll refrain from further such silly thoughts. Let us be serious.
Nature is all around us and offers us the opportunity to access that creative spirit in each of us. Capturing nature’s beauty and creatures in the wild is a thrilling experience. Birds have lured photographers for ages as subjects because of their beauty, diversity and grace.
It is mesmerizing to watch them in flight, to follow them through the air as they alight on a tree branch. If you are thinking about mastering nature photography – birds in particular, you might benefit from the following thoughts.
The most critical technical issue is to get close. If you’re patient, you’re in luck. If you think bird videography is as easy as snapping away with a long lens, you’re asking for trouble. No matter how close you get, it’s rarely close enough
Learn about birds in general and specifically about those in your area. Purchase a bird guidebook and refer to it often. Which type of bird is right in your back yard, perhaps nesting nearby? Again patience is a prerequisite. Stand watch – see the birds fly around.
Lure them closer by setting up a bird feeder as close to your house as possible. Be unobtrusive and very quite. Venture out to a park in your town. There are birds everywhere.
Let us not forget that to capture birds in flight one must use a camera with fast shutter speeds. Consider the following suggestions to get photos of birds in flight in focus:
AF cameras make this easy. Use Nikon’s Continuous AF (AF-C) mode or Canon’s AI Servo mode. These modes let the cameras track moving subjects. Set your camera to use all the focus sensors. In Nikon this is the Dynamic AF Area Mode, whose icon is a box in the middle with little dots all around it. These modes let the camera use different AF sensors as the bird flies around in your frame.
It’s trivial for any vido camera to track a moving bird against a blank sky. It’s tougher if it’s flying in front of a background, and even tougher if the bird is flying in between trees. As to exposure – If the bird is flying against the sky use Manual exposure mode, since any camera has a hard time seeing the bird instead of the bigger sky behind it. Also as you pan, the sky’s brightness varies while the bird’s lighting is probably staying the same.
I think that any of the Canon G series is perfectly fine. Of late, I have been using the Canon G11.
The above is but a speck in the ocean in terms of learning about photography – but don’t be intimidated – go out and shoot!