American Coot

Bird Photography
One of the things I most enjoy making photographs of is birds. This December will be my 46th year on the annual Christmas Bird Count, an event that celebrates citizen science and has thousands of individuals going out over the Christmas period and counting birds they see. Photography helps record these finds, and in any case, photography of birds is fun all on its own.
Some think you need big fancy and expensive equipment to make good pictures of birds, but this is not really true. Yes, a good tripod helps, to keep things steady (see last week’s blog on Camera Shake), but other than that, a good zoom lens or something in the 300 mm range is fine for doing detailed photographs of birds. I use a full frame camera (I have my two Nikon’s – a d800e and a d850), so my 70-200, with a 1.4x teleconverter, is my “lens of choice”. One of the advantages of a cropped frame camera, of course, is that you have more reach on telephotos – a big plus when photographing birds. This means that a good 100-300 lens, mounted on a cropped frame camera, makes it a 150 to 450 lens, and more than sufficient for good images of birds.
One of the key things I’ve learned is to know your birds and get close. Images with “see that dot, that’s a black duck”, simply don’t cut it. You want good close images, and that means getting close to your target birds. I use a portable chair blind with camo, but I also spend time sitting in my car, or dressed in camo gear and awaiting the influx of my feathered friends. Use of a wider aperture and a faster shutter also helps isolate the bird from the background, but those concepts are probably better left for another day.
It’s a great time to go out getting bird pictures – why not seek out your local Christmas Bird Count and take part, with your camera. It just may be a creative boost you’ll really enjoy!

Black Capped Chickadee

Ring-Necked Pheasant

Tree Sparrows

Yellow Rumped Warbler

Black Headed Gulls