Behind the Lenz: tips for bird photography | Lifestyles

Steve Lenz story and photos

Bird watching is one of the most popular outdoor recreation activities in the United States.

According to the US Fish & Wildlife Service, in 2016, some 45 million people enjoyed this hobby, contributing $ 80 billion to the US economy.

With the explosion of photography technology, the hobby has found its place in the daily life of almost every person. Combining these two popular hobbies is a natural fit.

It is very gratifying to see these beautiful feathered friends in the wild and just as rewarding to take a photo of them to later enjoy and share with others.

Although spotting a bird 50 meters away with binoculars is a normal part of birding, this distance will make it difficult to photograph these usually small creatures. Here are some tips for closing the gap and getting the photos you want.

1. Know the seasons: The behavior of birds changes according to the season. For example, in early spring, birds find mates and establish territories. They are much more daring and sometimes easier to spot and approach.

2. Know the habitats: Understanding where birds like to live helps you locate them. Lush areas such as riparian or swampy habitats are often filled with many birds.

3. Know the time of day: Birds are generally active throughout the day, but they are most active in the early morning and late evening.

4. Know the sounds: Birds are generally very vocal animals. This can help locate and identify the type of bird and what the bird is doing. One way to find owls is to listen to angry tits or magpies pestering a perched owl.

5. Keep calm: Find a good place in their habitat to quietly stand or sit for a while, and the birds will slowly begin to appear and go about their business. Keep your camera close to your eyes and ready to use so you don’t have to move around.

6. Use your car as a store: Sometimes a large habitat is found on the side of the road. Park your car in a privileged place and pull out the window.

7. Easy access: Aviaries have easy-to-practice birds to photograph. Popular parks and hiking trails can also provide opportunities to photograph birds accustomed to humans.

8. Know your timing: Birds are generally very active. Pay attention to what they are doing and be prepared for these amazing times. A bird in flight with outstretched wings is spectacular.

9. Learn from others: Join an Audubon group and take birding walks with them. Leaders will teach you how and what to look for. Join online bird watching communities. They will also teach you birding techniques and sometimes share locations for exciting local sightings.

ten. Know your equipment: Bird photography can cover a wide range of gear ranging from tens of thousands of dollars to a few hundred. A must-have is a long telephoto or point-and-shoot lens with a very powerful optical zoom. My favorite setup is a Canon 5D Mark III with a Sigma 150-600 Sport on a Sirui monopod.

11. Be ethical: Birds are more important than photos. Never compromise the welfare of the birds to get this photo. Pay attention to signs of distress. If they’re scared of your presence, walk away.

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