Tom Ma­son

In the sec­ond part of Tom Ma­son’s tu­to­rial on the art of bird pho­tog­ra­phy, he looks at the cre­ative side of shoot­ing birds on lo­ca­tion

Bird Watching (UK) - - Welcome - WORDS & PICS: TOM MA­SON

looks at the cre­ative side of pho­tograph­ing birds on lo­ca­tion in the sec­ond part of his tu­to­rial to help you brush up on your skills.

IN PART ONE of my in­tro­duc­tion to bird pho­tog­ra­phy (Bird Watch­ing, Septem­ber is­sue) we looked at gear­ing up, along with ba­sic cam­era con­trol to get you started shoot­ing im­ages. Here, in part two, we delve into some of the more cre­ative as­pects of bird pho­tog­ra­phy such as com­po­si­tion, as well as some of the field tech­niques re­quired for cap­tur­ing great bird im­ages on lo­ca­tion.

Com­po­si­tion

Pho­tog­ra­phy is an art form – for the most beau­ti­ful look­ing im­ages, we need to de­velop our thoughts and ideas fur­ther than a sim­ple sharp im­age of a bird on a stick. The way we com­pose im­ages has a huge bear­ing on the over­all look and feel of a pho­to­graph, with the way we po­si­tion sub­jects hav­ing a dras­tic im­pact on the aes­thetic na­ture of a pho­to­graph.

The rule of thirds

The ‘rule of thirds’ is a great start­ing point for any im­age. Sim­ply di­vide the frame into nine equal sec­tions with four lines both hor­i­zon­tally and ver­ti­cally (like an elon­gated noughts and crosses game) and po­si­tion your sub­ject on one of the in­ter­sect­ing points look­ing into the frame. The space for the an­i­mal to look into makes a more pleas­ing and nat­u­ral look­ing im­age.

Lead­ing lines

With com­po­si­tion, shape and form are very pow­er­ful, and line is some­thing than can cre­ate strong im­ages. Work­ing with lead­ing lines, that al­low the viewer to be drawn into a frame, can take the au­di­ence on a jour­ney into an im­age for added in­ter­est. This could be a fence line, path or sim­ply streaks of colour, draw­ing the viewer in to take a closer look. Po­si­tion your sub­ject at the end as a per­fect fin­ish­ing point.

Be odd

Look for odd num­bers in your com­po­si­tions – 1,3,5 all work bet­ter than 2s or 4s as they al­low a place for the viewer to stop, rather than bounc­ing between two ob­jects with­out re­ally set­ting on ei­ther. If you are work­ing with two, such as a pair of birds, try and add a third el­e­ment into the frame to add bal­ance, be it some­thing slightly out of fo­cus in the back­ground, or maybe an ad­di­tional piece of fo­liage for added in­ter­est and com­po­si­tional completeness.

Sub­ject cen­tral

For some im­ages, work­ing with your sub­ject slap bang in the cen­tre can cre­ate a strong and pow­er­ful com­po­si­tion. I em­pha­sise the need for a strong sub­ject, be­cause if your in­tended bird is too small, or with­out enough weight in the frame, plac­ing it cen­tre stage can see it be­come lost, in which case the ‘rule of thirds’ is a far bet­ter op­tion.

The rule of thirds is a great start­ing point for any im­age

FLIGHT IM­AGES Cap­tur­ing the per­fect im­age of birds in flight takes skill – but what a re­sult! ÈRULE OF THIRDS Di­vid­ing the frame into nine equal sec­tions will pro­duce great pho­tos

LEAD­ING LINES Use of lines in im­ages draws the attention of the viewer SUB­JECT CEN­TRAL There are ex­cep­tions to the rule of thirds – only with a strong sub­ject ÊBE ODD Four birds would have less im­pact

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