How to photograph flocks of birds: 5 ideas for creative images

How to photograph flocks of birds: 5 ideas for creative images

How to photograph flocks of birds: Photograph Wading Birds

Late autumn through to early spring is an ideal time to photograph flocks of wading birds as they gather in their tens of thousands around the coast

How to photograph flocks of birds: Photograph Wading Birds

Oystercatchers. Taken with: Canon 1D Mark II with 300mm f/4. Exposure: 1/1000 sec at f/5.6, ISO200

How I got the shot
As the incoming tide started to cover their feeding grounds, I knew these oystercatchers would move towards me, giving me the perfect opportunity to photograph them.

With the camera set up on a tripod I waited quietly as each incoming wave forced the farthest birds to take flight and join the others.

This was the picture I was after, so I focused on the group of birds at the bottom and framed the shot in anticipation of the airborne birds filling the top half of the picture.

As each group of birds flew in I took a series of shots using the high-speed continuous autofocus setting (also known as burst mode).

SEE MORE: The best camera settings for wildlife photography

Key camera settings
I autofocused on the closest birds and then switched my lens to manual focus to lock the focus, and prevent the lens hunting around for a focus point when the other birds took flight.

I then waited for the moment that some of the birds in flight came into focus to take the shot.

I set exposure in manual (M) mode, taking a reading using evaluative (average) metering from an area of beach that excluded the brighter sky.

Field notes
They key to successfully shooting this wader flock was getting into position whilst the birds were some distance away, and crouching down so that my outline was not visible.

Then by staying still and quiet, the birds remained relaxed and gradually came closer.

How to photograph flocks of birds: Shoot a Silhouette
How to photograph flocks of birds: Photograph Wading Birds
How to photograph flocks of birds: Capture Motion Blur
How to photograph flocks of birds: Become an impressionist
How to photograph flocks of birds: Go back for more

READ MORE

DIY Photography Hacks: reduce camera shake with a bag of lentils
The 10 Rules of Photo Composition (and why they work)
Common mistakes at every shutter speed (and the best settings to use)
DSLR Lenses: 7 questions photographers must ask about their next piece of glass