Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Bird Photography II: Positioning The Bird In The Frame

Today is snowing so I decided that it cannot be a very fruitful day for bird photography. Thus I decided that I would once again devote time to speak on bird photography – for the benefit of the readers who are interested in the art.

There is no gain saying that bird photography is extremely difficult – beyond being difficult, it calls for extreme patience and tenacity. And, for a person of my penchant for perfection – the art form is at a different level.

Getting down to brass tacks, let me share as follows:

I always choose a location where the treetops or foliage are below the road – at a level lower than where I stand. I absolutely avoid locations where the branches and the crowns of the tree are towering over me. I also hardly ever hunt for birds – above the road. The reason is that although you might locate birds on treetops towering over you, and on trees and branches above the road, in all likelihood you would be challenged by situations where the bird is back-lit – not at all good for a clear and sharp image.

The positioning of the bird in the frame is very important. The most pleasing way is as follows – how to allocate spaces around the bird, based on how it is sitting/perched:

The correct way to position your bird in the frame

The best way to present your bird is to present it without any clutter around it – completely isolated from the elements. The bird must stand out all by itself. I know it is extremely difficult – but no one told you bird photography is easy. You have to work very hard to get such an image. But that is the only image you want – clear, sharp, no intrusive elements masking it from all sides – with a smooth, silky backdrop behind it!! See the following – clear, sharp and nothing protruding from any side:

Uncluttered, clear, sharp and with a silky smooth background that shows off the birds beautifully

You may have noticed one thing about the examples of the above four images. They are tack sharp - from beak to toe. A well acquired image is when there is even sharpness throughout. If you are not correctly positioned when taking the image - you will end up with images that are uneven in sharpness. Remember - you are using long lenses which means that your DoF is very shallow. Thus you have to make sure that either you are bang horizontal to the bird - or you use a higher aperture (f/stop) which is most often not possible due to the available ambient lighting.

Never lock your sees with the bird’s – once it is comfortable with you, you can move about to see if a different angle is better, to project the bird with a less intrusive background or foreground. If your moving causes the bird to fly away - don’t worry - the image would not have been worth it anyway. And, there will always be other chances!

Be positive and KEEP CHASING THEM relentlessly!

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