Wildlife photography is among the most difficult photography genre. It required lots of patience because finding the subject is not an easy task, you have to travel far to find them. You need to carry heavy gears and there are very fewer changes that you’ll find the subject and if you get lucky to find it, there is no guarantee that you’ll get some good shots. Sometimes they are out of camera range, sometimes they hide behind the trees and bushes.
When it comes to bird photography, it’s even more challenging as animals stay still or move slowly but birds are constantly flying at a rapid speed. Animals have their own territory and wildlife guides can find them using the calls of other animals but in case of birds, it doesn’t work. Finding the bird is pure luck as most of the time they are moving at high speed or hide away in trees. Once you find them, clicking them is also very tricky. You need to move your camera at the same pace of flying bird, focus and click which required a lot of practice.
Is there a way to click photos of birds easily? What if birds come in front of your camera on their own and your camera automatically click the photos? You must be thinking that how it’s possible? Well, it is. Let’s talk about creating a setup for automatic bird photography.
What you need:
First, you need a place where you can attract lots of birds. It could be your backyard or your front garden. You won’t find rare birds here but you can shoot common birds which is a good start.
Second, you need a bird feeder to attract birds. You need to do some research about the common birds in your area and what they like to eat. You have to set up your bird feeder according to that. Choose the seed that attracts a different kind of birds but it doesn’t attract squirrels and rats.
We’ll set up the camera near bird feeder so find a place where you have good light and you can shoot your feathered friends with a clean background.
Now let’s talk about gadgets. Obviously, you need a camera and a lens. You also need a trigger like MIOPS Smart+ and laser pointer to click the pictures automatically. Other than these you need a tripod to fix the camera, trigger, and laser pointer.
The basic idea is to place a laser and trigger in the path of the bird. When the bird cut the laser beam, the trigger will click the picture automatically.
If you want to take the front shot, place the camera directly above the feeder with a little bit down angle and place your trigger and laser around 6 inches far from the feeder. If your plan is to take side shot, place your camera at side and place trigger and laser at the top and bottom of the feeder. Check the following image to understand the position of these gears.
Camera and trigger settings:
First and the most important thing is that always shoot in RAW so you can bring details in post-processing. Set your camera to manual mode and set the aperture between f/2.8 to f/5.6. Why these values, because we want a shallow depth of field so we have a clean blurred background and our subject stand out.
Now set the shutter speed to 1/1000 or 1/2000 seconds. Birds fly at a fast speed and to freeze them in the picture, we need such high shutter speed. Now set ISO to Auto so the camera itself selects the best value according to the light. I light is constant, you can fix the ISO too.
We are shooting at very high shutter speed so you ISO may go high that’s why I am suggesting shooting in RAW. It’s easy to remove grains in RAW compared to jpeg.
Now we have one last camera settings, and that is the focus. You need to go for manual focus as birds won’t give you time to focus every time and shoot. The best practice is to focus at the point where your laser beam is and switch it to manual focus. I’ve shown focus point as a red dot in the setup image.
Okay, let’s talk about the settings of MIOPS Smart+. Set it to Laser mode, set the threshold to 90, delay to 0 and frame to 1 and you are good to go. Now every time birds come between laser and trigger, your camera will automatically click a picture.
Take an easy chair, sit comfortably on it, take sunbath, sip fresh juice and read your favorite book while your setup will click amazing photos for you. Just remember that you are at least 10-12 feet away from the setup and not wearing any bright color cloths. Also, don’t make fast movements or it may scare the birds.
If you have one more camera, you can use that to click pictures from a different angle.
Things to remember:
>> Morning is usually the best time to shoot birds because at that time they are most active. And the second reason is that morning light or we can say golden hour light is the best light for photography.
>> If you can’t shoot in the morning, the evening is the second best time to shoot the birds.
>> You may also use flash but it’s not a good idea because it scares the birds.
So let’s take some amazing shots and share here too.
Related Article: 11 Tips for Stunning Wildlife Photograph
About the Author
Ramakant Sharda is an author, iOS App publisher, passionate photographer and a MIOPS Ambassador based in the beautiful “Pink City” of India, known as Jaipur. His work has been published in various magazines, newspapers, and blogs. He has published three Coffee Table Books, he writes about photography and also teaches photography in his workshops. Check out his website http://ClickManic.com to see the masterpieces created by him or download his free app for iPhone and iPad “30 Days to an Ace Photographer“.