Six Tips for Taking Excellent Photos of Birds
You may not be the next Stephen Green-Armytage, but you can take beautiful photos of your poultry and chickens. Birds are truly one of the most photogenic and alluring subjects for pictures and taking excellent photos of your birds can truly add to your appreciation of them.
Here are 6 tips to keep in mind:
1. Background. Although you are, of course, mostly thinking about the bird you are photographing, set up your background first. Birds look best when photographed in a natural looking environment. Green grass or shrubbery are great backgrounds. Avoid mud and dirt or lots of wire fencing, and definitely avoid dirty and poopy chicken house walls. Some people set up a pen on fresh grass just for photographing sessions. If you can’t bring your birds out of their aviary, then add extra straw or clean bedding the day of the photo session. Clean up or paint a background wall or add some green potted plants. Simply adding a flower pot can make a huge difference in a poultry photo.
2. Positioning. You will probably get the best photo if you are on the same level as your bird. If you try to photograph a chicken on the ground while you are standing up, you’re not going to get a very dynamic shot. By being on level, you’ll have a much better chance of getting a picture where the bird is interacting with you and looking at the camera.
3. Indoors or Outdoors. It is usually best and much easier to get good shots of poultry outdoors. The inside of a coop is usually too dark and extra lighting will have to be brought in. Or you will end up using the flash on your camera, and that can make your birds’ feather sheen in the picture look oddly white and blown out.
4. Outdoor Lighting. Sunny or lightly overcast days work best for poultry photography. On very sunny days, a shady spot can make great photos. Taking pictures of your birds in full sun can be dramatic and really show off feather sheen, but be particularly aware of the sun’s angle. If the sunlight is coming from behind the bird, you may only get a silhouette shot that is too dark to make out the feather colors. Try to find a position where the sun is at the same angle as you are or slightly off center, so the light shines on the bird being photographed. Watch that your own shadow doesn’t get in the shot or cover the bird. Overcast days have more diffused light which usually lets the colors of the bird be photographed in the truest manner.
5. Your Model. Choose birds to photograph that are in full feather and that look good and healthy. You want your models to be “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed!” If you need to, clean up their feet, so they are nice and clean looking. If there are feathers out-of-place, slide them back into place. You can gently rub birds with a velvet cloth or terry cloth towel to buff up feathers. Just start behind the head and pull the towel over the neck and body following the flow of the feathers. You could actually give your birds a bath, but that may be going a bit too far!
6. Patience and Perseverance! Take lots and lots of photos – just keep clicking the button! Birds move and move and move and you have to just click away in order to get a good shot. There’ll be plenty of throw-away / delete shots with blurry heads. And there will also be lots of ‘rump shots’ as chickens seem to spin around as soon as you click the button. Or another bird will walk into the way of the bird you are trying to photograph. Birds, like all animals, take patience and persistence to photograph. But if you take lots of photos, you will get some very special, perfect pictures!