South Dakota Birds and Birding - Home Page


Bird Photography - Basics

You can be a great bird photographer!

A Northern Hawk Owl, one of my favorite photos


First things first...ANYBODY CAN DO THIS.  YOU can do this.  Taking photos of birds isn't rocket science.  You are fully capable of taking photos that are every bit as good as any photo on this website.  Bird photography is just as much about knowing birds as it is about the technical aspects of photography. Neither aspect of bird photography is difficult.  Do you have patience? Do you have a love of nature? Do you get a thrill out of capturing nature's riches in an image? Then YOU are capable of producing world-class photos that can match any photo a "professional" nature photographer can produce.  With that said...

What is the one key to bird photography?  MARRY INTO WEALTH!!  Tongue-in-cheek, yes, but a word of warning...bird photography can be a VERY expensive hobby (don't on).  In terms of equipment, my collection sometimes seems inadequate for bird photography.  I get my share of nice photos, but I also miss some opportunities because my equipment simply isn't "long" enough or fast enough.  When you're out birding, particularly in a "famous" location, you may often run across bird photographers with lenses that literally weigh as much as a bowling ball, and literally may cost more than the car you're driving.

Given up yet? Don't!!  I have too many hobbies and a job that doesn't pay in buckets of gold (I'm a government scientists).  I simply can't afford the most expensive equipment. However, I still have a great time birding, and get many nice photos.  I would LOVE to have Canon's 600mm 4.0L IS lens, but unless some kind soul reading this donates the necessary $14,000, I'll get by with the equipment that I have.  Patience and persistence is free, and can (VERY often) compensate for equipment that is a little lacking.  The Northern Hawk Owl photo shown on this page is a high point for both my birding and photography hobbies, and it was done on a (relatively cheap) Canon Digital Rebel camera, from extremely close range.  You CAN get close to wild birds like this, and take wonderful photos.

I have three sections devoted to bird photography.  For additional information on each of these topics, click on the following links:

1. Equipment - Advice on the necessary tools of the trade (camera body, lenses, flash, and more)

2. Photographing Birds - Advice on how to take photos of birds

3. Photo Stories - "Behind-the-scenes" information about how photos were captured