Feath­ered friends

Praphat Rat­tanayanon loves shoot­ing the colourful lo­cal birds of his na­tive Thai­land

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My ob­ses­sion with tak­ing shots of lo­cal birds started when a cam­era-mad friend took me out in search of the com­mon king­fisher a few years ago. I ab­so­lutely loved com­ing home with bright and colourful pho­tos of those at­trac­tive lit­tle birds, and I haven’t stopped since.

As I’ve taken wildlife pho­tog­ra­phy more se­ri­ously, I’ve learned that Thai­land is a haven for bird lovers. There are so many beau­ti­ful va­ri­eties in all of the coun­try’s dif­fer­ent re­gions, and amaz­ing lo­ca­tions where you can look for them – in the stun­ning Kaeng Krachan Na­tional Park alone there are more than 400 dif­fer­ent bird species co-ex­ist­ing, as the area is so rich in bio­di­ver­sity.

Pa­tience makes per­fect

I’ve gained a bit of know-how in my en­deav­ours to pho­to­graph the lo­cals. It’s es­sen­tial to visit lo­ca­tions in the right sea­son, and I usu­ally read up on the be­hav­iour, flight pat­terns and feed­ing times of my favourite birds be­fore I travel to a lo­ca­tion, but it’s nor­mally far more im­por­tant to be in­cred­i­bly pa­tient and just wait.

There are days when the weather or sim­ple bad luck mean I come home with­out any shots I like, but that doesn’t de­ter me, as it’s great just

In the Kaeng Krachan Na­tional Park there are more than 400 dif­fer­ent bird species co-ex­ist­ing. The area is so rich in bio­di­ver­sity

get­ting to be out­side in such won­der­ful places.

When I’m on a shoot I’ll usu­ally switch be­tween the Nikon D7000 and the Nikon Df, depend­ing on the light con­di­tions. My favourite lens is the Nikon 300mm f/2.8 tele­photo, to­gether with my TC 1.7X tele­con­verter, as it gives me a fast max­i­mum aper­ture and beau­ti­fully crisp shots.

The birds I most en­joy shoot­ing are king­fish­ers [4], not just be­cause they were my first sub­jects but also be­cause they look so del­i­cate yet are so pow­er­ful in flight, even though they’re quite small. Spotted owls

[2] are an­other favourite, as they have hi­lar­i­ous ex­pres­sions!

I doubt I’ll ever stop pho­tograph­ing birds, as there are more than a thou­sand types in Thai­land. I’m also plan­ning to visit Nepal this month to see how many new species I can tick off my list. 02 spo tted owls Nikon D7000, Nikon 300mm f/2.8 lens with 1.7x TC, 1/125 sec, f/5, ISO200

03 Hoo ded pit­tas

Nikon D600, Nikon 300mm f/2.8 lens with 1.7x TC, 1/60 sec, f/4.8, ISO800

04 Black-backed King­fisher

Nikon D600, Nikon 300mm f/2.8 lens with 1.7x TC, 1/40 sec, f/4.8, ISO800

01 Sil­ver breasted Board­bill Nikon D7000, Nikon 300mm f/2.8 lens, 1/40 sec, f/3.5, ISO200

02

04

03

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