Tips for shoot­ing back­yard birds

Fol­low our four easy steps to give your bird pho­tog­ra­phy wings

NPhoto - - Nikon Skills -

01 Lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion

Don’t have a gar­den? Visit some­where with bird feed­ers that are reg­u­larly topped up and set against a plain back­ground. If there’s a per­ma­nent hide you can shoot from, like this hut, even bet­ter. Pick a calm, clear day with lit­tle wind – an over­cast sky is best for avoid­ing any ex­po­sure is­sues.

02 Get some great glass

Small, speedy birds are a nightmare to cap­ture with­out a de­cent tele­photo lens. We used a Nikon 80-400mm f/4 – the longer the zoom you can get, the bet­ter for get­ting great de­tail. Zoom in as close as you can, as you can al­ways crop in even fur­ther in post-pro­duc­tion.

03 Switch to A

You won’t have time to ad­just set­tings be­tween shots, so switch your Nikon to aper­ture-pri­or­ity (or ‘A’) mode and pick a wide aper­ture, such as f/5.6, to knock out the back­ground. Your cam­era will look af­ter the shut­ter speed. In­crease the ISO to some­thing like ISO800 to keep flut­ter­ing wings sharp.

04 Per­fect com­po­si­tion

If your Nikon’s aut­o­fo­cus is strug­gling, se­lect sin­gle-point AF mode in the Shoot­ing menu and then use the direc­tional but­tons to pick the per­fect fo­cus point, al­ways aim­ing to keep your bird’s eye pin-sharp. For a bet­ter-look­ing com­po­si­tion, try po­si­tion­ing your sub­ject off-cen­tre.

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