Capturing a flock of birds in flight through the lens is a challenge that many photographers find intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Armed with the right equipment and some patience, you too can capture beautiful photos of your desired flock in flight.
In this article, we’ll show you how to take stunning shots of birds by explaining what you need in order to do so and offering some tips for capturing those perfect shots.
What You’ll Need
If you want to get good shots of birds in flight, you need a good camera. If you already have one, you’re set. You’ll also want to have a fast lens that has a large aperture. This is especially important if you want to capture sharp images of the birds in flight. A tripod is also necessary if you want your photos to be clear and have less motion blur.
If you don’t own a camera or lens that fits all these requirements, then you’ll need to purchase a new one. After all, it doesn’t cost much to buy a basic point-and-shoot camera for photographing birds in flight.
But if you take photos of animals, the best thing you can do is get a special birding-specific camera that is specifically designed to take through-the-lens (TTL) photos of birds in flight.
Tip: If you take photos of animals and want to get good shots of birds in flight, you should seriously consider investing in a wildlife camera. They are designed to capture motion and producing clear images.
What You’ll Need To Do To Take Flock Photos Of Birds In Flight
The first thing you need to do if you want to take photos of birds in flight is to mark the location of the flock. How? Well, I’ll show you.
With a good pair of binoculars, follow the birds’ movement and watch for where they are heading, how they are flying and what direction they are going. Once you notice the location of the bird group, you’ll need to find a vantage point that provides a favorable angle for photographing them.
Tip: For best results, try to choose a location that places you at an angle from the flock of birds so that when they fly toward you, their wings form straight lines and their bodies fill the frame during their approach. The more of them that fit into the frame, the better your photos will be.
You should also get to the location early enough to block out the clouds. If you want to photograph the birds in flight, you need good weather conditions, especially if you are taking photos of large groups of birds. This is important, because lighting plays a big role in how your photographs will turn out.
If it’s cloudy or breezy, you might have smaller flocks that don’t fill the frame as much and you might not be able to discern individual birds in flight.
Tip: Keep in mind that wildlife photographers always photograph from low positions so that their subjects fill the entire frame. This is because they want their photos to be sharp and filled with as many interesting aspects as possible.
Getting Down To The Basics
If you’re planning on photographing a large flock of birds, you’ll need to learn how to use a tripod effectively. If you don’t have one, there are several models available on eBay for relatively inexpensive prices. Learning how to use your tripod effectively will greatly increase the chances of capturing photos of the birds in flight.
Tip: The reason most wildlife photographers use tripods is because they help to stop the camera from being shaky when you fire off a shot. If you’re going to be photographing a flock of birds, try and get yourself one as soon as possible.
Positioning A Tripod
Positioning a tripod properly is one of the simpler tips that you can teach yourself. All you have to do is place your tripod directly beneath where the flock will fly. The best thing to do is mark a spot on the ground and line up your tripod directly below this spot so that when it’s upright, you can see exactly what you want to capture through your camera’s viewfinder.
Tip: If you already have a good background, like a sky or a lake, try and place your tripod in the exact spot where it will be your background. This will add more depth to your photos.
Continue to block out the other elements around you until you have a completely clear view of what you want to capture. If possible, try and position yourself so that you are not directly facing the sun. Doing so will ensure that there is no glare on your subjects.
Tip: If the sun is behind your subject when it’s at its highest point, then this will cast a shadow on your subject and create a dark silhouette which can ruin your photo (unless that is the effect you are going for).
Best Birds To Photograph In Flocks
Of course, if you are going to be photographing a large group of birds, you must first decide which ones you want to photograph. During the spring and summer, June through August is a great season to photograph geese, ducks and swans.
Late autumn, many of these waterfowl will start to migrate, so the chances of photographing a large group are better during this time.
Tip: Some birds might be more inclined to fly in flocks than others; however, you still have a good chance at getting photos if you’re willing to wait and have enough patience.
If you have a large enough camera, you can get away with a single focal length. Many people like to use the super wide angle as this takes in as much of their wildlife’s surroundings as possible. Go for shots that capture the whole scene and draw out the details.
If your camera has a long telephoto lens, you’ll be able to zoom in on subjects and isolate them.
There are many things you can do to improve the chances of getting a great shot. The tips outlined above should provide you with an excellent start on your journey. If you want to take your photography to the next level, there are several websites out there, that offer a variety of guides and other resources which will provide you with all kinds of information to use in capturing great wildlife photography.