Usually, concentrations of wildlife, such as bird colonies, are well known in urban areas. Ask locals for any good spots where you can see them.
1 Pick the right spot
In this case, the position of the bird colony was fixed, as was the backdrop, so the only way to bring them into line was to change my position. Scout the area beforehand to find the best spot for when you’re ready to take your shot and it will save you valuable time once the light is good and conditions are right.
2 Pick your moment
For a shot like this, I made sure to time my visit for breeding season, so that the nests would be occupied. With birds, this can vary depending on region and species, but most local field guides can give you this information. During this period, the birds will stay reliably in the same spot, giving you more time to plan and execute your photograph.
3 Get creative
I wanted the birds in front of the building. But in the upper-left corner there was only blue sky – too much empty space. To fill the gap, I needed a stork to fly into this spot, but it had to be directly above the colony to be in focus. I was prepared to be patient and had brought a tripod, and took many images before one stork finally obliged.
4 Know the conditions
India usually has stable, predictable weather patterns in winter, when this image was taken. I waited for a blue sky, not a cloudy one, as this allows for a nicer composition and is easier to expose. I also waited until mid-morning, as this brings rising temperatures and is the time that the storks will start to ride the thermals, thus creating more movement in the shot.
5 Get some distance
This shot was taken with a 400mm lens. A longer focal length allows you to keep some distance from your subject, so that you don’t disturb them. Also, it helps to get a lower angle, meaning that you can create the impression of the subject and the background being very close to each other, even though they were some distance apart in this case.