Have You Considered Birding?

Yes, bird watching has a somewhat nerdy stigma, but bird watching is an excellent stress reliever. I joined Bird Club in my sophomore year of high school and although I am no expert at identifying birds, the club has allowed me to admire the beauty of nature. Waking up early to embrace the natural sounds of the animals as they arise is truly a blissful feeling. As a photographer, being able to combine my passion for photography and animals is the main reason I decided to join Bird Club. Even if there are no clubs near you, birding is a simple thing that anyone can do. Grab your camera and zoom lens or your binoculars and go to a local hiking area!

Hummingbird with tongue sticking out

Photographing Birds

I never fail to bring my camera whenever I go bird watching because capturing what you can see is one of the most rewarding feelings. The key to photographing most birds is using a fast shutter speed paired with a zoom lens. It can be frustrating not being able to zoom in far enough, so patience is key! Birds are constantly moving.

Bird captured using a zoom lens

Fast Shutter Speed

What is Shutter Speed? Shutter speed is the time duration between the opening and closing of the camera shutter. It is the time that the sensor or film records the light and, hence, creates a photograph.

How is shutter speed measured? It is the amount of time that the shutter on your camera is open, recorded in a fraction of a second. For example, if you have a shutter speed of 1000, then the shutter will open for 1/1000th of a second. For photography of animals, a fast shutter speed is recommended. The chart below compares fast and slow shutter speeds.

1/500 is an example of fast shutter speed and 1/2 is a slow shutter speed
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How do I adjust it? There are a variety of ways to adjust shutter speed. Every camera differs on manually adjusting shutter speed so look at your camera’s manual to find out how. For many cameras, Shutter Speed Priority is the best option for prioritizing your shutter speed. This mode allows you to adjust the shutter speed to however you would like, but also it will automatically adjust all of your other settings to match it. If this sounds too tedious, automatic mode sometimes will do the trick and will adjust everything for you.

S is shutter priority mode and Auto mode is indicated in green
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A fast shutter speed is necessary when taking photos of birds because they are constantly on the move.

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Gull eating fish

Zoom Lens

Another necessary tool when photographing birds is a zoom lens. Lenses are measured in mm as you can see in the diagram below. A good range for bird photography is 300mm+, but it is all preference!

Canon Lens Comparison

Get Outside!

Bird photography is a great way to embrace the outdoors and truly destress. Using these tips, hopefully you will be able to capture better bird photography, or even try birding through binoculars! To see more of my bird photography, click here.

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