Cap­ture in­ter­est­ing mo­ments

The el­e­ments you must con­sider for strong bird pho­tog­ra­phy

Digital Photograper - - Techniques -

If you want to get your shots pub­lished in mag­a­zines or for them to be suc­cess­ful in com­pe­ti­tions, then at the very least they must be tech­ni­cally sound and well com­posed. Throw in some in­ter­est­ing or un­usual be­hav­iour and you could have an award­win­ning pic­ture. If the only ti­tle you can think to give to an im­age is the species name, then it is un­likely to stand out from the crowd.

Work­ing from a hide tends to re­duce dis­tur­bance and the more at ease your sub­ject is, the more likely it is to be­have in a nat­u­ral way. To re­ally make the most of the op­por­tu­nity re­quires re­search, creativ­ity, plan­ning, and the skills to cap­ture the mo­ment when it ar­rives. The dif­fer­ence be­tween a good and great pho­to­graph can be sub­tle and is of­ten the re­sult of last-minute fine-tun­ing.

I of­ten start by con­sid­er­ing how a scene will be framed and where I want the main el­e­ments to be. There are var­i­ous rules of com­po­si­tion that can help you to make pic­tures that are aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing and well bal­anced. These in­clude the use of neg­a­tive space, the rule of thirds, sym­me­try, and lead­ing lines. Fol­low­ing these rules will im­prove your pho­tog­ra­phy, but some­times break­ing them can pro­duce a more dy­namic and strik­ing im­age.

Along with a strong com­po­si­tion, mag­a­zine ed­i­tors and com­pe­ti­tion judges will ex­pect im­ages to be well fo­cused and sharp in all the right places. Wildlife pho­tog­ra­phers of­ten use wide aper­tures to re­duce the depth of field, help­ing to em­pha­sise the main sub­ject while blur­ring out other parts of the scene. Oc­ca­sion­ally a nar­rower aper­ture is used to show a crea­ture within its habi­tat.

Un­der­stand­ing light and con­trol­ling colour are very use­ful skills if you want to raise your pho­tog­ra­phy to an award-win­ning stan­dard. We can’t al­ways have the light we want but mod­ern cam­eras give us the abil­ity to get the best out of al­most any sit­u­a­tion. TTL me­ter­ing al­lows the cam­era to mea­sure light di­rectly through the lens and this in­for­ma­tion can be used to set the de­sired ex­po­sure. I al­ways use man­ual white bal­ance for cre­ative colour con­trol.

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