Birding and more...Newsletter
2010 / Issue 11

IN THIS ISSUE: HOW TO PHOTOGRAPH WILD BIRDS - Part 3

PHOTOGRAPHING WILD BIRDS - Part 3

In this instalment, I'll be discussing HOW TO CAPTURE THE RIGHT POSE.

Wild bird photography presents a unique set of challenges. It's not like taking pictures of sunsets, mountain ranges, flowers, or people. First, you have to find the birds, then hope they're sitting on a good perch, and then hope they don't fly off before you can snap their photo. In light of that, what are the chances that they will also strike a good pose?

Getting a good pose is difficult - no doubt about it - but perhaps not as hard as you may think. Just knowing what constitutes a good pose is half the battle. As I've mentioned many times, birds are inherently difficult because they don't sit still. However, this constant movement does also offer the opportunity for a patient photographer to capture some great poses. After all, if the bird keeps shifting positions it might eventually shift to a pose that's just right!

The Classic Pose
So what are the elements of a good pose. Let's look at this photo of a Hairy Woodpecker that I took. It is a classic bird pose. The 3/4 angle offers a good view of most of the bird's feathers: the back, wing, belly, tail, and head. The head is profiled, the feet are partially visible, and there is a nice catch light in the eye. It also benefits from an out-of-focus background which draws the eye to the in-focus subject.

Most birds are constantly looking around while perched, so the basic technique for capturing a good pose is to manoeuvre yourself so that you have a good angle on the bird's body, and wait for the bird to turn its head so that you can get its profile. Having the sun behind you, or a strong flash will eliminate any annoying shadows and give a nice catch light in the bird's eye.

Natural Behaviour Poses
Another very attractive way to capture a bird, is to frame it in a natural setting. This is further enhanced if the bird is singing, preening, doing a courtship display, or some other behaviour. These shots are interesting and reveal more about the bird than just how it looks. These shots should still be well lit, taken at a good angle, and show as much of the bird as possible. However, if some leaves in the foreground are covering some of the bird (as in this photo of a Yellow Warbler) it should not been seen as a negative element. The setting is an integral part of the shot, especially in these types of photos. It gives the viewer a glimpse of just how the bird looks in its natural habitat.
 
Next issue: CHOOSING A SUITABLE CAMERA AND LENS
 

WILD IRIS

This one is for Elaine.
Knowing her love of wildflowers, I thought I'd showcase this beautiful Wild Iris that I came across Sunday morning in the wetlands of the H. R. Frink Centre - Garry.

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THE READERS' PATCH

...more on the topic of bird baths

In response to the article in our last issue, Susan Rollinson of Belleville offers some good advice about how to protect the garden birds and how to prevent the mosquitoes from breeding.

Susan writes: Pedestal bird baths are too low and attract cats. Bird baths should be too high for cats to leap onto. Feral cats are everywhere and pounce when a bird is least guarded. Use hanging baths, or place the pedestal baths on something to raise their height and keep them out of jumping reach.
Secondly, add a water wiggler to your bath. ...it ripples the water constantly (solar powered) that both attracts birds as they like moving water, and prevents west nile virus as the water is not sitting still.

...thanks Susan for this great advice!

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The Readers Patch is a space for your photos, stories, and/or comments.
Send anything you'd like to share with us to: newsletter@birdingandmore.com

 

RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS
Elaine's sister Brenda and her husband Bill have a wonderful garden that features
many bird feeders. Two weeks ago, Elaine took these great photos of a pair of Red-Bellied Woodpeckers. The male has the red on top of his head where the female is white.

What's New this week at www.birdingandmore.com

N
ew posts have been added to the Birding and more blog.

New photos have been added to
the following galleries:
Backyard Birds, Birds in the Wild, Wildlife, and Our Garden

FUN FACTS ABOUT BIRDS

A bird that barks instead of sings.

It's true. In 1998, ornithologist Robert S. Ridgely discovered a black and white duck-like bird in Ecuador that actually barks like a dog! The barking is the bird's natural sound, not a learned imitation. The species has been named Antpitta avis canis Ridgely

SURPRISING BLUE JAY BEHAVIOUR

Recently, while we were enjoying some Egg McMuffins and coffee on our patio, Elaine and I witnessed a remarkable Blue Jay behaviour.  I had just put out some peanuts (in the shell) for the squirrels and jays, and with little delay a group of Blue Jays began taking turns grabbing the peanuts and flying up into the nearby trees to peck them open. Elaine and I had seen this many times, but what we hadn't seen before was a Jay grabbing a peanut and hiding it in the lawn! The Jay in question would take his peanut, fly down to the lawn, push the nut deep into the grass, and then using two or three bits of dried leaves, camouflage the location. We were quite amazed to see this. We watched the Jay repeat the behaviour three times in a row before moving on. After he flew off, I took my camera and went to find one of the hidden peanuts. I had taken note of exactly where the Jay had hidden the nut, but it still took several minutes of searching before I discovered its exact whereabouts - it was that well hidden! After, I did a bit of research and discovered that Blue jays are scatter hoarders. That is, like squirrels, Jays will hide nuts, one at a time, over a large area with the intention of returning later to eat them. The Jay's strategy of scattering the food in many different hiding places minimizes loss if others find the stash. Isn't that incredible?!

ELAINE'S CORNER

Whirling Butterflies (Gaura) is a perennial that I've planted twice now
but it hasn't made it through either winter. I'm trying again just planted one yesterday and this time I will mulch it well for the winter so hopefully this one will make it. Apparently Zone 5 winters can be too hard on Gaura but the white-petalled Whirling Butterflies is considered to be hardy so keep your fingers crossed for me. Gaura begins flowering in mid Spring and continues right up until well after several hard frosts. The little flowers really do look like whirling butterflies and it's one of my favourite plants, worth the cost even if I have to plant it as an annual!

We were at my sister's last weekend and ended up bringing hom
e several plants (courtesy of her garden) to add to our flowerbeds. We now have three Wild Rose Bushes, two with pink flowers and one with white, a flowering Raspberry Bush, and two Wild Grape vines. Even though they were just planted a week ago the Wild Rose and Flowering Raspberry stems and leaves are looking firm and I'm quite hopeful that they'll adjust and do well. We'll have to wait a while to see if the Wild Grape vines will develop new roots and become well-established before winter. Right now they're rather sorry-looking but we've got lots of time!

It seems like I keep finding plants to add to our garden even though I say that we're pretty much done... and I do think we're pretty much done so you'll have to stay tuned to see if it's true next year!

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   Copyright 2010 Garry Kirsch                                                                    www.birdingandmore.com

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