GET CLOSE TO YOUR SUB­JECT

Bird Watching (UK) - - Part Two Bird Photography Basics -

Field­craft

Now, of course, in or­der to get great im­ages of birds you’re go­ing to need to get close. Of course us­ing a longer lens will give you an added ad­van­tage but, in truth, no mat­ter if you have a 500mm or a 20mm, get­ting close to your sub­ject will al­most al­ways re­sult in bet­ter im­ages. The good news is that, with you al­ready hav­ing a keen in­ter­est or be­ing an ex­pe­ri­enced bird­watcher, you are equipped in ad­vanced with one of the most im­por­tant as­sets: knowl­edge. Un­der­stand­ing their habits, feed­ing traits and favourite en­vi­ron­ments will rad­i­cally in­crease your chances of know­ing where to find your sub­jects. Mean­ing, once you have found them you can con­cen­trate on get­ting close for your im­ages.

Eth­i­cal ap­proach

With all wildlife watch­ing, hav­ing a solid ground­ing of ethics is im­por­tant, and when shoot­ing im­ages out in the field you must al­ways put your sub­ject first. Of­ten, peo­ple get car­ried away in pur­suit of that per­fect shot, putting birds at risk, so be sure to al­ways think about your ac­tions and how they im­pact on the species you are work­ing with. Tape lur­ing, live bait­ing and all kinds of bad prac­tices go on, don’t ever feel pres­sured to do these, be­cause wel­fare has to come first. Watch­ing your sub­ject as you work, look out for any signs of dis­tress, if these are chang­ing the nat­u­ral be­hav­iour, back off to al­low your sub­ject space to re­lax.

Stalk­ing

Stalk­ing birds for im­ages can be a huge amount of fun. The first thing you need to think about is your form. Walk­ing straight isn’t go­ing to work, so get your­self low on the ground to re­duce your size and shape. Crawl­ing along the ground army style of­ten al­lows for much closer ap­proaches. In ad­di­tion, use nat­u­ral cover, work­ing along hedge lines and be­hind walls and fences you can sneak up on sub­jects with­out spook­ing them. Re­mem­ber most birds de­tect danger with sight, so your ap­pear­ance in the land­scape is key. Per­son­ally, I find the best way to ap­proach is di­rectly in stages, as a grad­ual in­crease in size is far less ob­vi­ous to your sub­ject then some­one flit­ting from side to side in a zig-zag pat­tern. Move slowly, stop and watch for nat­u­ral be­hav­iour be­fore mov­ing again. Re­mem­ber, all species have a nat­u­ral cir­cle of fear; this is the limit be­fore they will fly or flee from danger, un­der­stand­ing the signs you will soon be able to iden­tify when you are near­ing the edge of the cir­cle and when to stop your pro­gres­sion for­wards.

Grey Heron

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