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Apr 23, 2015 by pippalou
Posted in category: Photography

The difficult thing about photographing wild birds is getting them to stay where they are. In a town or city, it's not so hard because the birds are used to humans, but in the country, it can be a real problem.

Of course, if you have one of those very expensive super-duper telephoto lenses (SDTL), you can stand in one spot and take pictures of birds a mile or so away. I can only sigh in envy!

If you don't have one of the SDTLs, you have to go through many complicated maneuvers to get close enough to photograph a bird.

For instance, I'm out walking on woodland trails, and I hear a bird singing. A cardinal! I know their calls anywhere. I softly creep down the path, looking like a burglar approaching a house. As I go, I quietly turn on my camera, take off the lens cover, and set the monopod to the right length. Now, I'm all ready.

American CardinalAmerican Cardinal
Suddenly, I see him! He's perched in a tree just ahead, bright red feathers shining in the sunlight. I must step softly, very softly! I have to watch every footfall to avoid any dried-up leaves that will crackle like a tiny explosion under my shoe.

I finally get within a decent distance of the tree. I nod approvingly.  He's so close! This is going to be a great shot. I adjust my lens, start to focus, press the shutter button, and...Poof!! He's gone!

Don't worry, I got a picture...such a lovely shot of a tree branch.   I'll call it 'After the Bird has Flown.' It's sure to get lots of downloads, win awards and generally make me famous. Uh huh.

You may be wondering, “Why all the creeping around?” Well, the first trouble with birds is that they have excellent sight and very keen hearing. Well, I guess it's not trouble to them, only to me. The other trouble is that they have an unfair advantage over a camera-packing human. They can fly.

Just what do you think you're doing?Just what do you think you're doing?
Sometimes, they see you coming from a long way away. As you approach, thinking you may get close enough, they keep a sharp eye on you. When you get too close for their comfort, which is not close enough for a shot, they beat it.

My old camera (Nikon P500) made a whirring noise when you turned it on or moved the lens in and out. The whirring started, the bird turned to see where that weird sound was coming from, and off it would go, soaring high into the sky.

Fortunately, my new camera (Fujifilm X-S1) has the option to turn off all camera sounds, so that puts me a bit ahead. However, even if they don't hear the camera, they often see it when you're pointing it at them and off they go. I can just hear their thoughts, “What on earth is that black box?” or “Oh, no, there she is again!”

Bye, bye, birdie!Bye, bye, birdie!

Some of them are very cool about it. They wait until just the right moment, shake their heads at you in contempt and gracefully spread their wings and take to the air. If only I could fly...

It's a tough job photographing birds, but someone has to do it! I do as well as I can with my severe limitation of having no SDTL. Heavy sigh! Perhaps I should set up one of those GoFundMe pages and get some donations to buy one! Will you contribute???

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