Bird Photography Tips & Tricks

For a commercial and landscape photographer, the winter season is a great time to experiment with different wildlife techniques while we impatiently wait for spring to arrive. Let me be the first to state emphatically that I’m no great wildlife photographer like Arthur Morris or Moose Peterson but I do enjoy the challenge of photographing Texas wildlife and coming away with some images that I really like.

We are truly spoiled here in Texas with an abundance of wildlife to hunt with our cameras. Brazos Bend State Park near Houston is home to more than 300 species of birds; 21 species of reptiles and amphibians, including many (large) American alligators; 17 species of mammals including bobcat, white-tailed deer, raccoon, and gray fox and even 39 species of dragonfly.

On any given afternoon or evening stroll I’ve been known to shoot up to 300 images in less than two hours. In fact, in one visit last year around Christmas I shot over 600 frames of just birds including Red-Shouldered Hawks, Red-Tailed Hawks, Great Blue Herons, Little Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, Moorhens, Wood Ducks, Whistling Ducks, Gadwalls, Blue-Winged Teals and even a few Pied-billed Grebes like this little guy here. Definitely a target rich environment!

Pied-Billed Grebe

Pied-Billed Grebe – Brazos Bend State Park, Texas
Copyright © 2011 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 7D set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 400mm f/4 DO IS USM + EF 1.4x Extender mono-pod mounted. The exposure was taken at 560mm, f/5.6 for 1/800th of a second at ISO 100. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3.
Click on the image above for a larger version.

Bird Photography Tips & Tricks

  • Use a shallow depth of field (DOF) to draw the viewers eye to your subject.
  • Use a single AF point and make sure the subject’s “eyes” are tack sharp.
  • Use “center weighted averaging”, “partial” or “spot” metering modes to get your exposure correct.
  • Use “high speed continuous shooting” (burst) mode to capture all the action.
  • Take lots of shots. Keep the best 10% and delete the rest.
  • Most of all, enjoy yourself. Life is too short to spend the long winter months cooped up inside. Get out there and capture some wonderful wildlife shots.

3 thoughts on “Bird Photography Tips & Tricks

  1. Nice shot, these birds just breathe “character”. So you just do posters huh? All these waterfowl images would make some great little cards. Let me know if you ever sell any 4×6 prints. Guess I should get out and attempt to take my own.

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