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Top Bird Photographers

Here is a round up of just some of the top bird photographing talent found on ePHOTOzine.

| Photographer

Here at ePHOTOzine, we have loads of really great bird photographers. The members featured here are just a few of the vast number of brilliant bird photographers we have on site so if you'd like to get involved in another article like this, please do get in contact!


Top Bird Photographers: Goldfinch
'Goldfinch' by Brian65  

How did you get into bird photography?
I love nature and now I'm retired I have time to enjoy getting out and watching birds etc.

Talk us through how you set up and take a shot.
I find getting good shots of birds a challenge. When I first started I found it so hard, I used to walk for miles and not get a good shot. Now I have access to a private hide so I can put food out and perches nearby, then wait for that shot.

What draws you to bird photography?
I still do other types of photography but I don't enjoy it as much, plus I can't walk as far as I used to. Even though I enjoy it, I'm still learning about bird photography and have a long way to go to keep up with most on ePHOTOzine.


Top Bird Photographers: All I Need Is Snow
'All I Need Is Snow!' by teocali

How did you get into bird photography?
Having invested in my first DSLR, a Canon 40D, towards the end of 2007, I became attracted to trying to capture moving subjects and my initial interest was air show photography. It was only when I joined ePHOTOzine and finally plucked up enough courage to upload an image, that I started to notice some of the superb bird photography on the site. I contacted Richard Bond (MossyOak) whose bird photography really drew my eye and Richard, a close friend to this day, told me how to set up a feeding station and advised on the best settings and technique.

Talk us through how you set up and take a shot.
It is easy for anybody with a garden, even a small one, to set up a feeding station for bird photography. Initially you need to provide seed holders and a pole, available from any garden centre, so that the birds get used to visiting the area. Then collect various attractive looking natural perches, i.e. rotted and gnarled branches, or lichen/moss covered ones and set them around the area of the main feed station, taking into consideration backgrounds and light positions.

During the actual photographic session only a very small amount of bait should be left out, as this forces the birds to queue on the surrounding set up perches, thus achieving a natural looking shot with no feeder in sight! It is relatively easy to capture the classic "bird on a stick" so I try to place my perches in positions that are in line with, and the correct distance away from unusual and colourful backgrounds which, when blurred by a shallow DOF, really isolate the main subject beautifully.

I prefer using a long prime telephoto lens, tripod mounted, and set this up from my chair hide. Then it is a matter of sitting patiently and waiting for visitors to arrive. I tend to use aperture priority, with continuous burst enabled and spot metering, focusing always on the eye.

What draws you to bird photography?
The excitement of wild bird photography is that you never know what you are going to get from day to day. Setting up and photographing from your feed station is one thing, but the greatest excitement is going out in the countryside, shouldering long lens and tripod, and shooting on the fly. You have to be fast, accurate and observant and usually find you have to bin a fair number of your "treasures"!


Top Bird Photographers: short eared owl
'Short Eared Owl' by Karen_Summers

How did you get into bird photography?
I started dabbling in macro photography then I bought a longer lens and got interested in birds. I then got totally hooked and brought an ever longer lens! Birds are always a challenge because they are never still for long.

Talk us through how you set up and take a shot.
I always use support, usually a tripod, and sometimes a beanie if I am in the car. Settings obviously vary depending on what I am photographing.

What draws you to bird photography?
I got a passion for photographing owls, in particular the barn owl which is my favourite bird. I love taking flight shots and it's always a buzz when you get that shot you want. So I guess that's what draws me into bird photography, it's always a challenge to get that sharp shot and I always strive to get that better and different shot too.


Top Bird Photographers: Kestrel
'Kestrel' by Steve_S

How did you get into bird photography?
I started doing bird photography about 5 years ago and it was nothing serious to begin with. I had always had an interest in wildlife but I wasn’t a bird watcher or anything like that. In fact, I had to ask a colleague at work to identify some of the birds I had taken when I first started! Gradually, I got bitten by the bug and rarely photographed anything else. To be honest, I was inspired by some of the photographers on ePHOTOzine and was hopeful of one day getting results like theirs!

Talk us through how you set up and take a shot.
I don’t tend to set up shots very often now. I think most people, including myself, start out that way, with a nice perch and some bird seed as it is a great way to learn how to use your camera and process your images. After doing that for two or three years I decided that I wanted to do more birds in flight so the perched birds have taken a back seat really. I still occasionally do those sort of shots though. Nowadays I go out with something specific in mind, be it to a well known site or searching for somewhere new in the Peak District looking for Dippers, Grouse etc. I still get a lot of enjoyment from finding my own locations. I also look at the local birding reports to see what birds are about and then head off in search of them.

My main equipment now is a Canon 1D Mk IV body and a Canon 500mm f/4 lens with or without a 1.4 extender. I use a Gitzo carbon fibre tripod and Wimberley Mk2 head to support it.

What draws you to bird photography?
The thing about bird photography that attracts me is that there are numerous species to photograph and even if you have photographed it before, there can always be something about its behaviour that you can try to capture that may make your image a little different from the rest.


Top Bird Photographers: windswept by KBan 'Windswept' by KBan

How did you get into bird photography?
I've been interested in wildlife since attending junior school when we used to go on nature walks every week in Summer. An older friend of mine was a keen bird spotter and he would take me along sometimes, pointing out all the different species of birds.

Talk us through how you set up and take a shot.
A few years ago a friend and I set up a small feed station in a local park to draw the birds in so we could get near enough to photograph them. This worked very well and we could easily photograph Blue Tits, Great Tits, Coal Tits, Robins, Nuthatches and other small bird varieties. We then realised that to get the shyer birds down we needed a hide. Having bought a hide we then were able to get shots of the Great Spotted Woodpeckers, male and female, and the very shy and wary Jays.

There is now a small group of us who meet at the feed station most weekends at about 8.00am to 8.30am. We search the wood for suitable perches and drill them at chosen points which are best for our shots. we then place them so we get the best light and bokeh. Then it's a case of back to the hide, being patient and a bit of luck and seeing what turns up. I usually shoot in manual, with an aperture of f/5.6, around 1.160 sec and ISO 400 with a tripod.

The gear I use:
  • Nikon D90
  • Nikon 70/200mm f/2.8 lens used with a Nikon 1.7 converter
  • Sigma 500mm prime lens
  • Manfrotto X55 Pro B tripod
  • Manfrotto 393 tripod head
What draws you to bird photography?
I think it's definitely a skill as you sometimes only have a split second to get the shot you want. Knowing your subject really does help. My favourite British bird is the Kingfisher and for years I wanted to get a decent shot of one. First you have to locate one on a local river and find where it likes to fish, which can take months. Then, you have to think about if the spot is suitable for a hide set up or not and if it is, a perch is put in a good spot.

We've done this a few times and it works. It can take a few weeks but patience is the name of the game in bird photography as in all wildlife photography.


Top Bird Photographers: Hoopoe
'Hoopoe' by TimMunsey

How did you get into bird photography?
For my 11th birthday I got a simple Praktica camera, and I remember getting up early and using my mum's mini as a hide, to catch the Blue Tits pecking through the silver foil tops of the delivered full cream milk. I succeeded and you could just about make out a tiny speck in the middle of the frame as being the bird. My parents loved wildlife and zoos so much photography was done there in the early days. David Attenbrough is probably a massive influence on a lot of wildlife photographers with his great programmes.

Talk us through how you set up and take a shot.
My set up varies on where I am, in hunter mode I wander the moors/woods with a moderate size lens (300mm f/2.8) with teleconvertors and a monopod, wandering around, stopping and looking. At a nature reserve with hides then I take larger kit. I can be like a battleship and wait for the birds to come to me, firing big guns, 800mm. The use of a tripod and gimbal aid flight photography, providing smooth panning. Cameras are now so good at high ISO I use this to keep my shutter speed high for sharpness. I always shoot in RAW, as I really enjoy post processing and trying to make a picture from my captures.

What draws you to bird photography?
Bird photography is my crutch, I do like all types of photography, but when I want to relax a good day out birding, meeting like-minded folk and experiencing that rarely seen moment is great for the soul.


Top Bird Photographers: Skomer puffin
'Skomer Puffin' by geoffrey baker

How did you get into bird photography?
Well, I learned the basics of photography way back in the early 1980s in the days of film. I did mainly landscapes and even had my own darkroom but work took over my life and I took very few photos over the next 18-20 years until about 2004 when PCs and Digital cameras were becoming readily available. The digital age was like a breath of fresh air and I was fascinated by it.

I only had a 2Mp digital compact at first with no zoom but it was all I needed to whet my appetite. I discovered ePHOTOzine one night by accident while browsing photography based websites on the internet, I didn't know any other photographers at that time, now I know hundreds from all over the World.

I learned so much from looking at other people's photos on ePHOTOzine, we were all learning this new technology together and we all helped and inspired each other, it's a wonderful place to learn.

I soon upgraded to my first DSLR and bought a 70-300mm zoom and I set up a simple feeding station outside my window to attract some birds so that I could take the kind of photos that I'd seen other photographers on ePHOTOzine take.

Talk us through how you set up and take a shot.
At first I was happy to take a photo of a bird on a peanut feeder etc. and I wasn't really aware of the background, which I now realise is a very important part of a photo, all I could "see" was the bird itself I guess I was just practicing then.

Now I'm a lot more careful in my composition, the pose of the bird, lighting, the perches and of course the backgrounds in my shots.

I'm quite pleased with the way I've progressed but I'm never really 100% happy with my work. I always feel I could have done better, which I suppose is a good thing, I haven't taken my best shots yet I feel.

I've now built a hide out in my back yard which enables me to get within 3 metres or so of over a dozen species of regular visitors including Jays and Woodpeckers and it's given me and my friends hours of enjoyment.

What draws you to bird photography?
I wouldn't class myself as a Birdwatcher or Twitcher, I'd be just as happy doing landscapes, macro or mammals and until I started photographing birds about 8 years ago, I didn't know a Great Tit from a Coal Tit! It's just that birds are readily available, they're everywhere and they make good subjects.


Top Bird Photographers: I'm on the telly this Christmas....
'I'm on the telly this Christmas... starring in the great escape...' by NaturesHaven

How did you get into bird photography?
I took up bird photography as a release from the tension and discipline of being a 24 hour carer for a relative who suffered with Alzheimer’s. The constant demands can wear you down so the birds became my escape. Because of the commitment to caring our full-time professional photography business took a back seat, my husband and I were art nude, portrait and pet photographers.

I have never attended any formal photographic courses as my husband taught me the basics of camera craft and my education continues on a daily self-taught basis. Everyday I’m out with the camera is exciting, it’s different and the not knowing what may turn up keeps me concentrated.

Talk us through how you set up and take a shot.
It’s not really possible to "set up" a shot, I’m lucky that we have a large garden in which we have a dedicated wildlife area, within this area we have natural habitats and we are surrounded by hedges on all sides. The garden is evolving all the time; we add plants and take away plants. When we moved here the garden was full of shrubs and trees, but they were not really practical for bird photography.

We have replaced these with as many bird and wildlife friendly trees and shrubs as we can without over doing the planting. We are blessed with the garden being south facing so I use the sunlight as my own lighting system and on a good day I can shoot from morning until the sun goes down. Most of my bird images are of wild and free garden birds. I don’t work to a set formula, you have to be patient and wait for the moment, the birds turn up. The magic for me is watching the behaviour of the birds, the interaction of the different species, I know precisely when the Sparrowhawk is hunting, and the birds tell me by their instant disappearing act. The birds create images for me. All I have to do is be there at the right time and place. I do not use a hide, they are clumsy and restrict my view and I like to have all-round vision.

What draws you to bird photography?
I’m drawn to bird/animal photography because it is an environment I’m happiest in, I love to interact with the birds, some of my models are quite used to me and come very close, they are not tame but they know I’m no threat to them. I love being outdoors and alone with the birds; I make notes on all the different species that visit us. The behaviour of the birds is so interesting, the birds are educators, they know when the weather is changing, they know when predators are close, I learn so much from them.

Over the years I have evolved a style sometimes quirky that shows the birds personalities and I often try to invoke humour into my work. I also believe titles attached to the images are important to give added impact. I love the informality of this style and I hope the affinity I have with the birds is portrayed in my images.

I have gained Licentiate and Associate qualifications with my bird photography and for my glamour/art nude work. I’ve also been fortunate to have some of my work published and sold here and in the USA.

Recently I was commissioned to photograph the Fauna and Flora of a working 8,000 acre farm. This work will cover the four seasons of 2013 and will be published in 2014.

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pluckyfilly Avatar
pluckyfilly 17 351 33 United Kingdom
11 Jan 2013 10:43AM
Fantastic photography, well done to all these members, it takes a lot of patience to get the right shot and the timing is so important - I speak from experience
MikeRC Avatar
MikeRC 18 3.6k United Kingdom
11 Jan 2013 3:13PM
....some terrific stuff here...especially the kingfisher by Keith (KBan)
Bird photography is my bag too but I rarely, if ever attain the quality shown here.
...well done people....Mike

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