Bird Photography Tips and Ideas | How to Photograph Birds Like a Pro

Bird photography is one of the most popular genres of nature photography.

In fact, photographing birds is very interesting and challenging for photographers of all skill levels.

In order to capture the best shots you need to make sure you understand the proper exposure, composition, and lighting techniques that work best for birds.

In this tutorial we’ll share with you some of the best bird photography tips and ideas used by professional photographers.


Photos by Yogendra174


The best time to photograph birds and just about any other animal is early in the morning and in the late afternoon.

This is due to the natural lighting of the sun. The shadows will be softer and the colors a lot warmer, which will allow you to capture more detail and texture. Professionals refer to this as the golden hour in Photography.


Unlike people and items, you can’t tell birds how and where to pose.

You have to take the shot when you get the chance since the opportunity could quickly be lost.

The best photos show birds in their natural habitat or engaging in behavioral traits. When a bird is looking into open space in the image it’s generally more effective. This means you should place it to the left or right of center.

This is especially true if the creature’s in flight as it will look like its flying into the empty space. However, if the bird is flying directly towards you it’s a good idea to center it.

Also if the bird is looking up or down, then place it above or below the midpoint of the image so it appears to be looking into empty space. This will make the image look less cramped.

You can position the bird off center by trying various auto focus points as well as cropping the scene afterwards. You may also want to follow the rule of thirds and place the bird in one of the image’s intersections.


how to photograph birds

Photo by mikebaird

Adjusting the background

If possible, its always a great idea in bird photography to check out the background of the image carefully before taking the shot.

Again, this can sometimes be tricky since you can’t always pick and choose your settings and birds often fly away after a few seconds.

If the background is taking away from the scene, then you may want to change your position. Be careful not to startle the bird though as it could take off. If it’s not possible to change your position and the background is still bothering you, then try to blur it by minimizing your depth of field.

Get on the same level

Your photos will likely be more striking if you can get on the same level as the bird.

This may sound a little odd since most of them are above you in trees or the sky. But the main thing is not to shoot down on them from above, such as when they’re on the ground looking for food etc.


photographing birds reflections

Photos by Rainbow Zombie and glen edelson

Use reflections

Reflections are a wonderful photography idea to use for wildlife shots. Many types of birds can be found near water and this will provide you with the opportunity to capture their reflection in it. The bird and its reflection will then become your subject.

Getting the right exposure

The histogram and blinking highlights are good ways of making sure the exposure is correct. Check your photo in the LCD screen right after taking it and see if blinking highlights are present. If so, and they are in an important section of the image you should underexpose. Also, look at the histogram and see if you can keep it as far right as you can without clipping the photo’s brightest values. If a bird has is basically white, such as a swan, and it fills more than a third of the frame the feathers may appear to be grey since the camera can underexpose them. In this instance it’s better to overexpose the photo.

We hope you enjoyed these bird photography tips. Please leave a comment below telling us which tip was your favorite or share one of your own.

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