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10 Useful Tips For Photographing Birds At The Beach


If you are into shooting birds, especially anywhere by the shore, this video by wildlife and nature photographer Steve Perry (from backcountrygallery) gives some very useful tips that can help you maximize that experience.

Here are perry’s 10 tips from this video:

  1. Get low to the ground – pretty obvious but very important (and don’t be afraid to get a little bit dirty.
  2. Get wet – go with the first tip – don’t be afraid to go into the water if this will get you a better shot.
  3. Keep your gear dry – if you go into the water it doesn’t mean that your camera or lens should too – be careful how you work and what happens with waves (if you are using a tripod you can also use trash bags to prevent them from getting sand and salt water and don’t forget to wash and dry them if they do.
  4. Shoot at the right time of time of day – sunshine and sunset are the best but test your exposure first.
  5. Use waves in your composition – if you are shooting birds on the shore and you have the option – use weaves when they come close to the bird or pull out and shoot a series of shots – you will be surprised at what you might get.
  6. Watch your backgrounds – this is always true but especially in this case try to have the horizon straight and finding an interesting background for your shot (as much as possible when shooting on a beach which can be quite blend at times.
  7. Always be ready for action – as with all wildlife/bird shooting – things can happen fast. A bird can land or fly away quickly and you need to be ready to shoot instantly – shoot in bursts and be sure to have the shutter speed fast enough to freeze the bird.
  8. Use the right AF mode – here Perry talks about Nikon (although you can probably apply this to some extent to Canon cameras as well). For more stationary subjects single focus AF or D9 are his choice and group AF for tracking moving subjects (but it depends on your specific camera of course.
  9. Watch the food – birds go to the shore to feed – if you can see food sources on the beach – a good chance that a bird will find its way there sooner or later – so keep your eyes open.
  10. Be prepared – take stuff that you might need with you (but don’t carry too much if you need to move from position to position and use a bag that can get a little bit wet).

Perry had some great video tips in the past for shooting birds and wildlife in general (as well as more specific camera gear) including “10 Simple Yet Powerful Wildlife Photography Tips“, “Tips for Using Long Lenses with Tripod and a Gimbal” and “A Guide to Solving Autofocus Problems“.

You can see a few other of bird-related shooting videos by Tony Northrup including How to Photograph Song BirdsHow to Photograph Birds in Flight and Bird and Wildlife Photography Gear Guide and Tips and “How to Photograph Birds – an Extended Guide“ and more recently “Back to Basics: Bird Photography Tips“.

Don’t forget to check out many more helpful photography tips on our Photography tips section here on LensVid.

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