Capture interesting moments
The elements you must consider for strong bird photography
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.