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How to Photograph Birds

One of the biggest challenges faced by the bird photographer is getting close enough to the subject to be able to produce a good image. The easiest (though also the most expensive) solution to this problem is to work with a telephoto lens. Most professional bird photographers, in fact, often use a 500mm or 600mm telephoto lens, sometimes coupled with a teleconverter (a device that extends the lens focal length). But for amateur photographers who want to photograph birds without buying a lot of expensive equipment, there are always other methods and options. If you're going after the Andean Condor, you're going to need a telephoto lens to get the shot, said Chuck DeLaney, Dean of NYI, America's oldest and largest photography school. But if you're mainly interested in photographing birds in your region, maybe just in your backyard, there are still plenty of options, like using a blind for getting good photos. One strategy, employed quite cleverly by an NYI graduate, is particularly well-suited for the backyard bird photographer. To capture songbirds (who are notorious for their quick, erratic movements and thus difficult to photograph), she positions her Canon SLR near a feeder, sets the focus, aperture, and shutter speed, then retreats to the porch. She waits there until a bird comes to the feeder, then, when the moment is right, she uses her infrared control to trigger her camera's shutter. Birds approach her feeders and backyard perches because she is out of sight, and, as a result, she's able to get closer shots without using a telephoto lens. For more great suggestions on how to take bird photos, and lots of great photos, see the official Web site of the New York Institute of Photography. (Reprinted with permission from the New York Institute of Photography Web.) Another great source of Bird Photograpy is the North American Birds Photo Gallery.


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