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Bird Photography

Bo Stahlbrandt (bgs)

The Nikonians community has acquired a very rich knowledgebase over the years in bird photography aka "birding", including the specialized genre of capturing photographs of "Birds in Flight" (BIF). As member KnightPhoto has said "A type of shooting target apparently designed to both provide great rewards and real nightmares, all in one."

Not all of us will have the means to go out and get the monster lenses that some of this photography seems to require, but there are ways how to achieve good results with a bit shorter (and less expensive) lenses, potentially using a Teleconverter and/or cropping. If you are already a seasoned "birder", we hope you will find inspiration and some tips in our articles on shooting birds, and please do join our bird discussions. If you are a beginner or intermediate birder, I am sure you will find a lot of goodies here in the community.


Nikon Eric Bowles out shooting. Taken by Markku Leiniö (mleinio)

Nikonians Moderator Eric Bowles (ericbowles) taking bird photographs.
Taken by Markku Leiniö (mleinio)
Click for an enlargement


Got a birdie question?

If you have a question on Bird Photography, please post that in the  Birds and Wildlife forum.


Post a Bird Photography Question



Common Loon & Chick by Monte Comeau (BCRose).
Nikon D4 with 600mm lens at f/4, ISO 1600 and 1/1600sec Shot from a Kayak at Lac Le Jeune, BC
Click for an enlargement


Without you we would not exist

Several of the articles are of premium type and require a Silver membership or higher to be accessible, but some - with lots of core information - are available for free.

The Nikonians community exists thanks to all of our members supporting us with a paid membership, volunteering as team members and in many other ways, such as participating in our fundraising.

If anything of what we do was helpful to you, please help us helping you and other photographers and sign up for Silver. It is only $3.90 USD per month (or $25 USD per year). And yes, we are ad-free and tracking free, thanks to your support.


Bird photography videos

The Art of Bird Photograhy webinar with Arthur Morris


Birds-in-flight (BIF) photography

Photographing birds-in-flight
Cameras, lenses, settings and how to manage your expectations.
Shooting birds-in-flight is a difficult photographic challenge but when you nail a few shots, it is a most rewarding experience. Starting off, many people try to shoot Birds-in-Flight as a bit of a fun challenge.  Once they have a little success, they find themselves drawn into this addictive photographic genre.

Autofocus Tracking with a Cluttered Background
It's a bird, it's a plane! Ok, they're just birds, not superman. But with Autofocus Tracking techniques like this, you'll feel like you've conquered a lot in getting those epic shots.

Using the AF back button on your Nikon
Learn how to use the AF back button on your Nikon and get more keepers when shooting birds-in-flight.

Long Lens Hand Holding Technique
Reducing fatigue by utilizing the right hand-holding technique for long lenses.

Which lens for bird photography? Pro's and con's
Which lens to use for bird photography? Do you need these long, expensive lenses or can you use something shorter, lighter and cheaper?

Manual Mode for Bird Photography – Why, When and How-To
Why should you use Manual Mode Exposure for Bird Photography? Here are the why, when and how-to. 

Birding with a Nikon Z7 and the Nikkor 500/5.6 PF
The Nikon Z6, Z7, & Z50 mirrorless cameras bring most of the power and sophistication of recent Nikon DSLR’s to more compact packages. Add to this the Nikkor 500/5.6 PF telephoto lens, and one has a very attractive wildlife photography combo.

Nikon D500 and 200-500mm Nikkor Birding Field Review
Using the 200-500mm Nikkor on the D500 gives you quite a good reach for bird photography. Join Nikonians Moderator Jonathan Kandel (JonK) on a shoot.


Birding in general

Bird Photography in the City
You want to get into bird photography but it is not always easy to travel to the best possible sanctuaries around the world. Are there other choices? Nikonians Moderator and Laureate bird photographer tells us where and how, locally. Furthermore, he also discusses in this article both equipment and field technique.

Converting Color Wildlife Images to Black & White
How to convert your wildife images to stunning black & white shots.

The Challenge of Wildlife Photography
Photographing wildlife can be a challenge and not all wildlife or wildlife situations are equal. This article is about sharing experience gathered, from South Africa, Costa Rica and locally in the US.

Working Towards Successful Wildlife Photographs
Learning to photograph animals in action takes effort, time and patience and, at some point, will result in successful action shots. Sharing the experience from locally in the US and abroad.

How's your approach changing over time?
Can mental quickness in responding to a changing photographic scenario be learned or improved? How do we change our photography over time?


More gear

As a birdie you are very likely using a tripod and some camera support equipment, e.g. a Gimbal or similar.

What tripod?
Do you really need a tripod? The background of why a tripod often is a necessity. Checklists and info on how to proceed selecting a tripod based upon your needs.

On Tripod technique
Whether you already own or plan to get a good tripod, they don't work alone. Tripods benefit from all the help you can give them, even the very best; more so if there is some wind. What are the proven tripod technique practices?

The MAGICA Series 4 Tripods
To move up from a Series 2 to a Series 3 Gitzo was an easy choice; it became a need as soon as I went above 200mm focal lengths. But the prospect of acquiring a 500mm f/4 Nikkor lens to seriously incursion into birding has been haunting me for long.

Everything on Ballheads (tagged ballhead) - Markins series
A tour of Markins ball head models and new modules that make the combination a truly integrated camera support system.

All Nikon cameras index

All Nikon manuals index

Nikonians configuration spreadsheets for Nikon cameras


Bird images for inspiration

Bird images and interviews with photographers for your inspiration. See the interview link in the caption of each photograph. You can also view a larger image by clicking on it. As always, the images are protected under Copyright law and are owned by the photographer. You are not allowed to e.g. distribute or copy them.



Barred Owl
Taken out of the window of my truck on the way to work
Nikon D300, 400mm f/3.5 @ f/4.5, 1/640s, ISO 320
Click for an enlargement - Interview with Jack Backs (jfbacks)



Immature hummingbird
D7200, 200mm f/4 Micro Nikkor @ f/11, 1/160sec, ISO 400, tripod
Click for an enlargement - Interview with Robert Brown (PR62)



Eastern Great Egret Flying
Nikon D750, Tamron 150–600mm @ 600mm, f/6.3, 1/800s, ISO 800.
Tripod mounted. Aperture mode.
Click for an enlargement - Interview with Dianne Clark (Dianne 340)



Common Loon shedding water
Nikon D4 with 600mm lens at f/4, ISO 1600 and 1/1600sec. Shot from a Kayak at Lac Le Jeune, BC
Click for an enlargement - Interview with Monte Comeau (BCRose)



On the beach
Nikon D810, 500mm with 1.4TC, f/5.6, 1/1000sec, ISO 200
Click for an enlargement - Interview with Roberta Davidson (birdied)



Blue Jay
Nikon D7100, 18-300mm VR @ 78mm, f/7.1, 1/1600s, ISO 800
Click for an enlargement - Interview with Candi Foltz (CandisCamera)



Tundra Swan
One of the spring migrants at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge - Shot from the dikes.
D810, Tamron 150-600mm f/5.0-6.3 @ f/6.3, 1/800 sec, ISO 180
Click for an enlargement - Interview with Donna Knodle (dgknodle)



Golden Hour Great Blue Heron
Nikon D800, 200-500mm @ f/5.6, 1/320s, ISO 500
Click for an enlargement - Interview with Wasil Khan (WK)



Click for an enlargement - Interview with Peter Wallin (pipsqueak)





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