How to Take Good Pictures of Birds

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One of the most popular aspects of animal photography is bird photography. Taking perfect wild bird pictures can be tricky, but you can create some great photo opportunities right in your own backyard.

Setting up your Backyard Photo Shoots

The biggest challenge with bird photography isn't actually attracting birds to your yard. Once feeders are out and discovered, word will get around fast! The biggest challenge with bird photography is getting the birds to perch where you want them. So, consider the location carefully before setting up your feeding station or birdbath.

Choose locations that have nice backgrounds and good angles and won't make the birds easy targets for predators.

Remember that if you set feeders out in the winter only give them quality seed so your feathery friends aren't filling up on food (like bread) that won't provide them the energy needed to keep warm at night.

Birdbaths also provide good photo ops, and birdhouses will help encourage birds to hang out in your yard.

If your goal is to attract certain species of birds, check with The Audubon Society to see what types of seeds or plants (in the case of birds that won't take their meals at feeders) are best. You can also find good tips at the National Wildlife Federation's "Gardening for Wildlife" pages.

You also don't want to limit your bird photos to just bird feeders and baths. You can also take photos of them perching on tree limbs and fences nearby, so when you have your camera in hand, scout out these areas too.

Camera Settings

Have you ever noticed that birds are constantly moving? When eating, their little heads are bobbing up and down, and when they are on the ground they are always looking this way and that for predators. With so much movement you want a higher shutter speed for bird photos, so use the Sports mode or set your shutter speed to at least 1/250.

If you have an optical zoom on your compact digital or a telephoto lens on an SLR, this will make taking pictures a whole lot easier. An optical zoom of 6x, depending on the camera, can give you about the same magnification as a 200mm lens, meaning a photograph taken from about 10 feet away could look like a close up.

Some of the "bridge cameras" offer zooms from 10-20 feet but not all produce quality results so do a little investigating before purchasing. When using a high range zoom, you should also consider using a tripod or other camera stabilizer.

Given a big enough lens, you can also get some great photos of birds in flight or perched high in the tree tops too. Professional nature photographers often use a 600 lens to get photos with good detail.

Large telephoto lenses of this size are very expensive, but there is another way to take bird photos far away. It's called digiscoping. With this method, you combine the birder's spotting scope with a digital camera. Here is one of many good articles online introducing the digiscoping method to bird photographers: Birdwatchers Digest: Photography.

Blue skies are best for pictures of birds in flight. And the bluest sky of the day is usually the hour after dawn. Also, look for times of the day when you have flocks of birds around your house or flying over. Or, if you're looking to take pictures of birds of prey like osprey, go to a lake or river early in the morning or evening when they fish. This is also a perfect time for soft, warm and even lighting.

Hopefully by using these tips, you'll not only attract more birds to your yard for more bird photo opportunities but capture some fantastic pictures that you'll be proud to display.

Autumn Lockwood is a writer for Your Picture Frames and loves taking pictures. Your Picture Frames offers a large selection of picture frames in a variety of sizes, colors, finishes and styles. If you're looking for double picture frames or triple photo frames come visit our site or call us at 1-800-780-0699.

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