Home Photography Ideas: Backyard Bird Photos – Freeze or Blur Motion
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Getting great bird photos can be a real challenge if you respect lockdown and social distancing. So here are some great tips for bird watching from your backyard, as well as the secrets to stopping or capturing motion, which depends on shutter speed.
Controlling shutter speed is an essential part of the exposure triangle. With it, we can freeze motion or blur subjects into long, indistinct shapes. Bird photography usually revolves around the former, where you use a fast shutter speed to freeze a fast moving subject.
The fast shutter opening and closing captures a tiny slice of time on the image sensor, and if the aperture and ISO are appropriate, the image captures even the fastest movements as if were perfectly still.
However, it is also possible to get creative and suggest movement by slowing down your shutter speed. This way, you can capture impressionistic motion blur, giving your feathered subjects a more dynamic representation.
How you use the shutter speed to stop or capture motion is entirely up to you – there is no right or wrong answer, so it’s up to you to decide what you prefer to shoot. And since you can practice in your own backyard, there’s no better time to experiment!
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Capture moving subjects
01 Location and birds
Shooting from your own home, through a window, means you can bait the birds with seeds and have them come to you. Practicing in your backyard is a great way to familiarize yourself with the technique without braving the outdoors.
02 Telephoto zoom
Since you’re likely to be a good distance from your feathered friends, you’ll want to use a telephoto lens to get closer to the action. We use a 70-200mm lens, which gives us a bit of space around the birds making it easier to track them in flight.
03 Shutter priority
To freeze the action, you’ll need a fast shutter speed. Follow the law of reciprocals, so if your focal length is 200mm, use 1/200 s or more to freeze motion. You want your shutter speed to be as fast as possible for sharp photos.
04 Let the light in
To achieve a fast shutter speed, your camera will designate a large aperture to allow more light to reach the image sensor. Sometimes, however, even with a large aperture, the image will be too dark at fast shutter speeds, so you will need to increase your ISO to compensate.
Activate âgroupâ autofocus mode to give your camera a larger area of ââfocus. Enabling continuous autofocus also eliminates the need for constant focus with the shutter release button, which speeds up shooting and increases your hit rate when the birds are out.
06 Slow down
Once the quick hits are successful, it’s time to experiment! Slow down your shutter speed just enough to blur the wings when the birds land – we used 1/100 sec (you may need to lower your ISO accordingly). This creative use of blur is quite flattering in the right situation.
The best lenses for bird photography
Best telephoto lens: the best zooms for your camera
The best 70-200mm lens: the best constant aperture telephoto lenses