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Every place in the world we live in, there are different types of birds to take photos of. God has placed beautiful birds in all areas of the world. And that gives us photographers a chance to take advantage of some beautiful photos that we can certainly add to our portfolios. Have you ever looked at some photos taken by photographers and thought: hmm, that’s a nice photo of the twigs or tree branches, I wish I could really see the bird? Too many times we see birds and think it is great to take a photo of the bird through all the branches and leaves and shrubbery. Here is a great article I found from the experts: DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY SCHOOL, the people who know how to do it right.
Do you want to capture stunning bird photography…
…that goes beyond the usual, standard bird photos?
In this article, I’ll give you 5 bird photography secrets that will ensure you consistently create incredible bird images.
Images that are creative, unique, and original.
Let’s dive right in!
Here’s the bread-and-butter of creative bird photography:
Get down low.
It may seem tough. You might prefer to stay up high, away from the dirt and water and mud.
But if you want incredible bird photos, you’ve got to get out of your comfort zone. You’ve got to get down low.
Specifically, you need to get on a level with the bird. Your lens should be about even with the bird’s eye.
Why is this so important?
When you shoot from down low, the distance between the bird and the background is greatly increased. And that causes the background to be far more blurred.
Therefore, you’ll capture some beautiful bokeh.
And beautiful bokeh?
Makes for a stunning bird photo.
This is how professionals capture such dreamy backdrops in their bird photography.
They get down as low as they can go. That’s all.
It really does make a huge difference!
Try it. I can guarantee that you won’t regret the resulting shots.
Do you want to capture especially gorgeous bird photography?
One of my favorite ways to do this…
…is to shoot reflections.
Let me explain:
A photo of a bird is nice. It’s standard. It can be beautiful.
But if you add a reflection, the image immediately becomes far more captivating. Viewers are instantly sucked into the scene.
The reflection adds a sense of subtle beauty and delicateness – one that you can’t get any other way.
Now, here’s how you capture gorgeous bird reflections:
First, shoot by still water.
Mudflats (with puddles) work well. Same with sheltered lakes.
If you’re struggling to find water still enough to generate full reflections, try shooting during the early morning. That’s when the wind tends to be a lot less noticeable.
Second, make sure the sun is low in the sky. (The lower, the better.) This will ensure that the reflection includes some nice colors.
You also have to be careful not to get too low over the water.
If you’re too low, the full reflection won’t come through. And a broken reflection has far less power than a full reflection.
Find some birds near the water, and start taking photos!
One of the biggest problems with beginning bird photography…
…is that it’s static.
The bird just stands in the frame.
And while there are methods of making this type of photo work, it’s often just a boring photo.
That’s why you should spice up your bird photos using action
Once you’ve found a subject, watch it through your camera. Keep your finger on the shutter button.
Then, as soon as it starts to move, take a burst of photos. The more photos, the better!
Of course, you’re going to have a lot of failed shots. But you’ll also capture some keepers. And these will (with a little luck) blow you away!
Some of my favorite shots involve birds flapping their wings, preening, or feeding. If you wait for this behavior, you’ll get some stellar action shots.
One thing I’d recommend:
When you’re watching a bird through the camera viewfinder, keep some space between the bird and the edge of the frame.
Because birds can rapidly change their size – just by opening their wings. And clipped body parts are one of the easiest ways to ruin a bird photo.
Just remember these tips, and you’ll be capturing some great action photos in no time!
Another way to capture original images…
…is to find a subject.
Get down low.
And shoot through some vegetation.
This creates a gorgeous foreground wash – one that frames the subject without dominating the photo.
To pull this off, you generally have to lie flat on the ground. I advise experimenting with a few different angles – move around your subject, testing different possible foregrounds.
Note: It’s important that the vegetation is very close to your lens (and very far from your subject). Because the farther the vegetation is from your lens, the more in focus (and distracting) it becomes.
It’s also important to limit the amount of vegetation in the photo. You don’t want to cover up the bird entirely. Instead, you want to frame the bird with the vegetation.
Then start taking some shots with a foreground wash. You’ll love the shots you get.
Here’s one more way to capture creative bird photos:
Silhouettes are really easy to pull off – and they look incredible.
Here’s how you do it:
Go out as the sun is just about to set. Find a subject (birds with a clear outline are best).
Then change your position so that the bird is between you and the setting sun. Ideally, the bird blocks the sun from your camera. This will prevent the sky from being completely blown out.
Make sure that the bird is in front of as much of the sky as possible.
That is, you want to frame the bird with sky – and you don’t want any dark patches behind the bird (from trees or other objects).
If you’re struggling with this, try getting down as low as you can. Because the lower you get, the more sky you’ll include in the frame.
Finally, ensure that you drastically underexpose your subject. One trick is to set the exposure based on the sky next to the bird.
That way, you’ll get a beautiful sky – with a nicely silhouetted subject.
Now you know how to capture stunning, original bird photos.
You know how to produce amazing backgrounds.
You know how to generate interest.
And you know how to capture incredible foregrounds.
The next step…
…is to get out and shoot!
Have any tips for creative bird photography? Share them in the comments!
Here is some more stunning bird photos:
A wide angle lens in your arsenal, once you understand what you can do with it, you will quickly find out, will be one of your most used lenses because it becomes the lens you will use to be “creative” with. When I first got into photography, I thought the telephoto or the zoom lens would be the most widely used lens, but, as I started taking photos, I find that the wide angle lens is the one that is the one I like to shoot with the most. Let’s look at some things that you can use it with that will make it a logical choice in your photography choices:
Wide angle lenses have tremendous creative potential. The way they affect perspective and line helps you make dynamic and exciting images. Yet, care is required to get the best out of them. It takes a little thought to avoid the messy compositions characteristic of photos taken with wide angle lenses by careless photographers.
Wide-angle lenses are useful for shooting in adverse weather conditions like mist and fog. You can move in close to your subject (in this case a fishing boat in Galicia, photographed with an 18mm lens on an APS-C camera – see above) and because you are fairly close, it is more or less unaffected by the fog.
The result is a nice contrast between the sharp foreground and the soft background. The fog also simplifies a potentially messy composition by obscuring whatever is in the distance.
If you shot a scene like this with a longer focal length, the boats would be much harder to see through the fog.
Both are valid techniques for photographing a foggy scene. It’s just a question of deciding which approach you’d like to take, then selecting the most appropriate lens.
As wide-angle lenses make objects that are not close to the camera look smaller there is a risk that the most interesting part of the landscape is pushed away into the distance, leaving the uninteresting parts of the scene to dominate the foreground.
To counter this you need foreground interest— something in the front third of the image that captures the eye.
It may help to mentally divide the frame into thirds. Each third requires something interesting to look at to pull the eye through the frame. Filling each region effectively also helps create a sense of depth.
You need some foreground interest in the first third, an interesting part of the landscape (such as trees or mountains) in the middle third and finally some interesting texture or color in the sky. Treat this as a guide, not a rule, and bear in mind the thirds don’t need to be of equal size.
The photo below (taken with an 18mm lens, APS-C) has an interesting foreground (jagged rocks), more rocks in the middle ground and an island with a distinct shape on the horizon. The eye naturally follows the rocks through the photo to the island and the distant cliffs.
With wide angle lenses it’s easy to include too much in the photo and end up with a cluttered composition. A good exercise, and a great way to improve your images, is to keep the composition as simple as possible.
That usually means getting in close to the subject and framing it in a way that keeps the background as uncluttered as you can. It won’t always work – depending on the scene there are times when it’s impossible to avoid a busy composition. But keep the principle in mind and apply it when you can.
For the photo below (taken with an 18mm lens, APS-C) I simplified the composition by using a slow shutter speed (240 seconds) to blur the movement of the sea. The sky is nearly empty of clouds, further simplifying the design.
This principle applies to all types of subject, not just landscape photography.
Wide-angle lenses are really useful for taking landscape photos at night. Their wide angle-of-view is essential to capture the glory and scope of the stars and milky way. The shorter the focal length, the more sky you can capture. Ultra-wides can be really useful for this.
There are two ways to take photos of stars at night.
The first is to use a relatively fast shutter speed (usually around 20 seconds) to freeze the motion of the stars, so the camera records them as pinpricks of light.
A prime lens or wide-angle zoom with a maximum aperture of f2.8 or greater is useful as it gives you the option of opening the aperture to let more light in, allowing you to keep the ISO down.
The second way is to use longer exposures to capture the curved star trails created by the Earth’s rotation. Wide aperture lenses may also come in useful here, as keeping the ISO low both maximizes image quality and reduces long exposure noise.
This photo was taken with an 18mm lens at Lake Tekapo in New Zealand.
Another effective technique is to include people in the photo. Getting close to a person with a wide-angle lens creates a strong focal point, and lets the landscape sweep away into the distance. The human figure creates a sense of scale. A small figure amongst a dramatic landscape, even more so.
There are two approaches to including human figures in the landscape.
One is to create a portrait of the person, using the landscape as a backdrop. A wide angle lens lets you get close to the person, yet include lots of background. This is different to a telephoto lens, which would also let you get close to the person (or make them large in the frame), but would exclude most of the background, throwing it out of focus if you use a wide aperture.
The other is to use the person (or people) as human figures. Anonymous, but there to provide interest, a point of reference, a focal point or scale. In this case the figures may well be small in the frame, an effective way of showing the scale and drama of a particular landscape.
This portrait of a friend of mine uses the first approach. It was taken with a wide-angle zoom set to 25mm on a full-frame camera.
You can use wide-angle lenses to take photos of buildings, both from the outside and the inside.
Inside, a wide-angle lens might be a necessity and the only way to include a significant part of a room or the inside of a large structure like a church or cathedral.
This holds true outside as well, especially if you are close to the building. Depending on its size, you will probably only be able to include the building in its entirety from a distance.
In the photo below (taken with an 18mm lens, APS-C) the tower, positioned at one of the corners of the wall surrounding Beijing’s Forbidden City, is shown in its environment. The use of a wide-angle lens includes enough of the scene to create a sense of space and serenity.
Exploit the exaggerated perspective of wide angle lenses whenever you can. Look for lines that lead towards the subject or the horizon. They add depth by taking the eye through the image from the foreground to the horizon, and create a sense of motion or flow through the photo.
Wide-angle lenses emphasize and exaggerate line. You can use this to your advantage by placing them in a way that leads the eye into and through the image rather than out of it. This is where the fun element of wide-angles comes in – a simple change in position can alter the composition, and the way that lines run into and through it, dramatically. Experiment with point-of-view and line and see what happens.
Wide-angle lenses can also emphasize shape, especially with photos of man-made objects like buildings. Two things drew me to the scene in the photo below (taken with a 14mm lens, APS-C). The first was the dramatic shape of the house. The second was the corresponding shapes made by the road markings. Both are emphasized by the black and white conversion and high contrast treatment.
Wide angle lenses are idea for environmental portraiture and this is an approach often adopted by documentary photographers and photojournalists.
A good approach for this type of photography is use a moderate wide angle lens. If your lens is too wide you may get too close and make your sitter uncomfortable. Try and keep your focal lengths between 24 and 35mm (full-frame), 15 and 22mm (APS-C) or 12 and 17mm (Micro four-thirds). Avoid placing your model’s head too close to the edge of the frame, especially the corners, where it may be distorted.
I made the portrait below (taken with an 18mm lens, APS-C) by moving in close to my friend while she played her guitar.
With wide angle lenses you need to get physically close to take photos where your model fills a large part of the frame. This requires a good relationship with your model. Once she trust you she will let you get close enough to use a wide angle lens. Getting close creates a sense of intimacy and involvement in the scene that isn’t present with longer focal lengths and is usually worth the effort.
Here are some more great photos taken with a wide angle lens: