Capturing great shots of birds-in-flight can be quite challenging, but by following a few basic techniques, your chances of getting great shots will improve greatly.
#1 Use Continuous Focus
By using Continuous Focus (or AI Servo for Canon users), you will have a much greater chance of getting well-focused shots of flying birds. Lock your camera’s focus point on the bird while it’s flying and keeping it on the bird, while holding the shutter button half-depressed. The focus will stay on the bird and when you are ready, take a series of shots using the Continuous Shot or Burst mode.
#2 Leave Room In The Direction The Bird Is Flying
When photographing flying birds, always leave room in the direction the bird is flying, be it left or right. It’s important to leave more room in front and not have ‘wasted’ space behind the bird.
#3 Using Back Button Focus
Back-button focus is recommended for birds-in-flight, as the focus stays on the bird and doesn’t jump to the background as soon as the focus point misses the bird. The focus button is set via the camera’s men, so it on the back of the camera and totally separate from the shutter button on the top.
#4 Zoom Out
One suggestion for getting sharp shots of birds flying is to zoom out wider, making it easier to find the bird. Once you have locked focus on it, you can then zoom in closer. It’s much easier keeping focus on a flying bird, once you have found it in the frame.
#5 Eye Level
Try getting as close to eye level as possible when photographing birds, as this makes for much better composition. If the bird is high in a tree, step back some metres, as the image will be much more aesthetic. Also, if the bird is on the ground, I suggest getting down low with your camera before taking the photo.
#6 Watch Your Background
For many years, I have been teaching my photo workshop students to watch their backgrounds when photographing birds, especially trees sticking up out of heads etc. If the bird is sitting, spend a few seconds looking for the most natural background, compose and shoot!
If you have a passion for wildlife, nature or travel photography and would love to go on a small-number, professional photography adventure, please get in touch with Michael Snedic at WildNature Photo Expeditions. You can call him on 0408 941 965 or fill in this Contact Form and he will get back to you ASAP.