A bird in the hand
Marion Grenyer wants to take more engaging wildlife photos
My husband and I have a friendly rivalry, as he uses Canon. We share an interest in birds. I use either the Tamron 150-600mm or Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 II, depending on the light. I am looking at purchasing a 300mm f/4.
I have yet to find how to take good, vibrant photographs more consistently. I struggle with weather conditions – I can set up for cloud and the sun appears just as I press the shutter. My current technique is very raw and I generally set the camera in what I believe to be the correct settings and shoot. I can see different photographic opportunities, hence the picture of the gull yawning.
Photographing birds in trees is a challenge. The kit can be heavy and trying to locate the birds is frustrating. Getting the picture of the warbler in sharp focus was rare for me, so I was quite pleased with it.
Marion, you’ve got a wonderful eye, and we can see the connection you have with the animals. That provides a perfect starting block for improving the technical end of things. You’ve got fantastic kit, so there’s no need to invest in much more. The only additions we’d encourage are a circular polariser, as it can improve contrast and remove reflections when you’re shooting into water, and a monopod rather than a tripod as it’ll enable you to stay mobile.
Consider the background when shooting wildlife, as a confusing backdrop can ruin an otherwise excellent shot. Keeping your aperture wide to throw the background out of focus can combat this, but a cluttered frame is still to be avoided wherever possible, so do bear this in mind.
Use your knowledge of bird behaviour, and get closer in to your subjects. You may need to find a focus point on a branch and wait for the subject to alight. Lock your aperture to between f/5.6 or f/8, depending on your focal length, and set a shutter speed of around 1/500 sec using Auto ISO on your D750. This should give enough depth of focus to capture a sharp subject, but still blur the background.