Astrophotography has clearly countered the famous idiom that, “Sky is the limit”. We photographers, are terrestrial beings, who seldom limit themselves to the ground. Budding photographers take their GoPros and leave no part of the geography untouched. Going down as low as the Challenger Deep is a piece of cake and heights are no longer sacred as well. Practically every nuke and corner is explorable!
When there is so much in front of us that can be reproduced on a 35mm film or can be stored in an SD card, the size of our nail, it’s hard to believe that there is anything that can’t be nailed! While your search is on, on the ground, it’s time that you ‘look up’ to something. Do you have a camera? A telescopic lens? A pair of sunglasses? A Capri pant? A pair of sports shoes? And a sipper? If yes, then you have all that it takes to go out bird photography-ing!!!! While the spring and fall seasons are knocking on the doorstep, there is more to the season than falling leaves and roadside chillers.
Here is your guide to capture the eternality of the ephemeral bird season.
1) Plan in advance!
To make full utilization of your time and to get productive captures, not just carrying the proper equipment or attitude matters but also the timing matters a lot if you wish to capture any particular kind of migratory bird.
There are patterns to migrations and the birds follow it ardently. So, plan well in advance to avoid missing out on their movements.
Here is a helpful link for birding, https://www.thespruce.com
2) Gear Up!
Note: carry your own food and water!
3) That time of the year again!
Here are the pointers that you must keep in mind before scheduling a shoot. The best time of the year is based upon the following:
Migration: Spring and fall migration are two of the best times to see many birds. During migration, gregarious species gather in large groups that are easier to see.
Breeding Season: When birds are breeding they may be more reclusive. Breeding birds, however, have brighter plumage and more active behavior to claim territories and attract mates, making them easier to identify.
4) Best time of the day
Just as humans have daily schedules, birds also have daily patterns for feeding, roosting and other activities. Learning those patterns of avian behavior can help birders learn when best to see birds.
Feeding: Birds spend most of their time foraging, either finding food for themselves or to offer to a mate or growing hatchlings. One of the most active feeding times is early morning as the sun rises and warms up insects, making it easier for insectivorous birds to forage. At the same time, other species are also refueling after a long night. Late evening is similarly active for feeding birds as they store energy for the night.
Singing: When birds are vocal, birding by ear is much easier. During the spring and summer birds are working to establish territories and attract mates, and they frequently sing in the early morning when sounds carry further and there may be less background noise.
Sunning: Birds that practice sunning are often easy to find in the mid-afternoon when the sun is at its highest.
Drinking: Birds may drink at any time of day, but they are more likely to visit bird baths and other water sources in the heat of the day. You may as well get some beautiful reflections.
5) Are they waiting for you?
by Pankaj Mohan
For example, owls, night-herons and nighthawks are all primarily nocturnal, and they are most easily seen during the twilight hours. Diurnal raptors such as hawks, vultures and eagles, on the other hand, are more easily seen in late morning and afternoon, when air currents have heated to create the thermal currents these birds need for soaring. A birder who wants to see any specific bird should study field guides to learn that bird's behavior and make the most of their birding to find that species.
Specific times of the day. Different type of birds.
6) Breeding season
This offers you a beautiful opportunity to witness (and maybe capture) the beginning of a new life. The tenderness of the moment will surely leave an indelible impact on your mind and you would definitely like to have it in your portfolio.
7) Be Patient
Unlike a pre-planned studio photoshoot where the logistical convenience is taken care of and chances of finishing off the day with a bagful of dissatisfaction is meek, birding may be prove to be otherwise. Since, the process of shooting an avian in your camera is not a single step effort but multifolded (spot the bird, set your focal length, follow it's trail, shoot in burst), the chances of not getting a desirable picture is quite high! But, the cons of birding is it biggest pro as well. The very fact that clicking a perfect (sharp and properly framed) picture of an avian is so challenging, also induces a feeling of overjoy when you realise you have captured the perfect moment, while reviewing your hard work.
So, don't loose heart. Focus is the key.
8) Go Macro!
How often do you see in a bird’s eyes?
I suppose not very often. But it would be really intriguing to do so. Go beyond the usuals and instead of insects, try macro on these multicoloured beings.
Not always do you require a macro lens to do so. A fairly working tele lens coupled with a high aperture can also do the job for you. But to add to the thrill, try clicking them from point zero range.
Beyond the mundane photographing it's also about exhilaration!
9) Colour Play
by Milad Hameed
Birds of the same feather flock together, and when they do,the matrix of vivid colours in the clear sky is hard to ignore. Thanks to the laws of evolution, these feather covered beings are blessed with a spectrum of subtle and vibrant colours and if captured in the right way, the high key colours are beyond beauty!
A photographer doesn't just click something but connects to it. The photo doesn't just impact the film but a photographer's emotions too. To surprass the eerieness of monochrome and to get over the gloominess of incandescence, these photographs can act as a soothing get away.
Besides the philosophy, who doesn't like a colorful picture?
10) Use a Drone
If you want to know how it feels like to fly above them and to get the 'bird-view’ of a flock of birds, don't think twice before purchasing a drone. When the internet is flooded with pictures of sky in the backdrop of birds, try clicking landscapes in their backdrop.
It is rather unusual and perplexing.
However, a strong word of advice will be to practice how to fly a drone first, so that you don't disturb their natural movements or worst of all, hurt them.
Beyond the determination and grit to achieve your goal, don’t get engrossed and disheartened by your exploration drive. Take out some time in the lap of nature and appreciate it’s beauty. And I suppose you will love to listen to their songs may be?
And one last advice: Go again!
Written by Shivam Tiwari for WorldPhotographersClub.com
Cover Photo By Surajit Sarkar