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Paterson’s Photography

Bird Photography – Tips & Tricks

Taking photos of birds can be a very tricky challenge, especially when they are in flight and movement is extremely fast. However, you can take some fantastic shots of birds by following our tips and tricks.

Mistletoe bird Speed 400s * F5.6 * ISO110 * 500mm

Equipment

To taking photos of birds you will need a telephoto lens to get close enough to them without scaring them. A tripod or image stabilization feature is required to keep the image clear and sharp. While out on site we use the Nikon 200-500mm Lens F5.6, which seems to be permanently set at 500mm.

If you prefer to use a much smaller camera and still get some great photos, we also use the Canon Powershot G7X Mark III and Canon Powershot SX720 HS.

The image below is a nice example of what this simple camera is capable of. Of course it is not the same quality as the Nikon, however it allows you as a photographer to have fun capturing birds if you don’t have any expenses zoom lenses.

Settings

Birds in Flight

When photographing birds in flight we suggest to use at least a 200mm zoom lens and a shutter speed at least 1/1000. Personally we have not had great success as low as 1/1000 so tend to prefer using speeds higher than 1/2000. This will usually give you sharp images that you can be proud of. We use a Nikon Lens that is 200-500mm, at times we still think this isn’t long enough.

Still Birds

When photographing still bird, keep the depth of field very shallow to blur out either the background of foreground of the subject. By visiting your local park, bird sanctuary or zoo you get get some really suburb photos. When possible, the best area to focus when taking birds is the head area. On a close bird, using a soft flash you can add a nice glow to the feathers. Use a low depth of field to blur out distracting or foregrounds. For birds that are further away, zoom as close as you can to the bird and use an shallow depth of field to keep the bird and branch in focus but everything else blurred. This stops the photo from being boring and will really improve on the composition.

Conclusion

Taking photos of birds takes patience and practise, however following some simple steps will improve your photos dramatically. Experiment yourself with shutter speeds and remember to fill the bird in the frame as much as possible.

How to make your subject stand out

By adding a blurred background to a photo you can really make a subject stand out.

With a few simple tweaks, you can add a blur to your background turning them it everyday snap shot to eye catching photography.

Steps to follow

1.Set Aperture to wide

It is the size of your aperture that controls your depth of field. The larger the opening the smaller the amount of your photo will be in focus. set your camera between f/2 to f/4, to get the best effect. Just remember the lower the number the larger the aperture which create the smallest depth of field.

2.Chose the right distances

You’ve set your aperature now get closer to your subject to create a better photograph. If you are closer to your your subject, it is much easier to create a shallow depth of field than if you are further away. Now at the same time, increase the distance between the subject and the background to accentuate the effect even further.

3.Make the most out of zoom.

By using are larger lens and zooming in you compress the elements aroung your subject. This makes the blur effect even more dramatic and is excellent for shooting portraits, wildlife and travel. To avoid have to shooting portraits too far away and having to yell at them accross the street, use a smaller zoom than if you were taking a wildlife shot with a lens over 300mm.

A much nicer graduation photo

Points to remember

Switch your camera to Aperture Priority mode

Stand back a little and zoom-in your lens

Choose the smallest f-number that’s available.

Increase the distance between the subject and the background.

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How to create the perfect blurred background in your photos.


To create a blurred background you need to use a shallow depth of field with your camera.  This allows the subject is in focus, and the background is progressively blurry.

The following steps will help you create a professional looking photo.

Set Aperture to wide

It is the size of your aperture that controls your depth of field. The larger the opening the smaller the amount that your photo will beable to focus on. Set your camera between f/2 to f/4, to get the best effect. Just remember the lower the number the larger the aperture which create the smallest depth of field.

Chose the right distances

You’ve set your aperature now get closer to your subject to create better photographs. If you’re closer to your subject it is much easier to create a shallow depth of field than if you are further away. At the same time, increase the distance between the subject and the background to accentuate this effect even further.

Make the most out of zoom

By using are larger lens and zooming in you compress the elements around your subject. This makes the blur effect even more dramatic and is excellent for shooting portraits, wildlife and travel. To avoid have to shooting portraits too far away and having to yell at someone accross the street, use a smaller zoom than if you were taking a wildlife shot with a lens over 200mm.

Points to remember

1. Switch your camera to Aperture Priority mode

2. Stand back a little and zoom-in your lens

3. Choose the smallest f-number that’s available.

4. Increase the distance between the subject and the background.

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