Bird Hide Photography: 7 Quick Tips

Taking photos of birds isn’t just limited to your back garden.

Discovering where your local bird hides are is a great way of putting yourself in the hub of rarer seen birds.

Join iPhotography tutor and professional wildlife photographer Rachel Sinclair as she reveals her 7 bird hide photography tips for your first adventure.

bird hide photography tips

1. Observe the Bird

Before whipping off your lens cap and instantly starting to snap – take a moment. Just stay still and observe the bird from the hide. Watch its movements and patterns.

If you can roughly predict where the bird will land, if it’s grazing for food, then you’ll have a better success rate.

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2. Pick a Position

Try not to move around the bird hide much. Pick a position and stick to it for a while – why? Well 2 reasons;

  1. It requires patience to get the right shot. You maybe have the best angle and lighting, but don’t sacrifice that for your inability to wait.
  2. Birds will be very sensitive to movement nearby. A creaky floorboard, a rustling of kit can spook them enough to retreat.

3. Use a Fast Shutter Speed

Combine a fast shutter speed with a decent size aperture (around F/8) to give you a crisp finish within a comfortable depth of field. Your shutter speed may need to be above 1/1000th depending upon the distance and movement of the bird.

4. Orientate your Shot

To give your bird photographs the framing they deserve remember to mix up the orientation of the camera. Shoot in portrait as well as landscape. Adding in reflections of birds drinking water and sitting on vertical branches may require a break from the classic landscape orientations.

rachel sinclair bird hide photography tips iphotography
rachel sinclair bird hide photography tips iphotography
rachel sinclair bird hide photography tips iphotography
rachel sinclair bird hide photography tips iphotography

5. Check your Exposure Regularly

The problem of shooting in bird hides, and outside in general, is the light. The ever-changing natural conditions, if you’re hidden behind trees, will require you to check (and double-check) your exposure. Use your histogram to make sure the highlights aren’t clipping and those wonderful feathers are still in an acceptable range.

6. Use Natural Elements

It’s great to capture a bird standing still for a moment but making that moment look natural in context, is even better. Look for birds landing on fences, branches, tree trunks and on the water.

Look for elements birds have in the wild, rather than bird feeders, fountains, barbed wire and cars. Cutting out the man-made elements complements the wild subject.

7. Be Patient!

We’re leaving the most important one till last. Patience is the key to success with bird hide photography. It’s unlikely (but hopeful) you’ll get your best shot in the first 5 minutes of entering the bird hide. Be prepared to wait a few hours at least for the birds to settle, feel safe and acting naturally.

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