As some of you probably know, when it comes to photography, nothing inspires me, motivates me and talks to me more than seeing and capturing an image of Mother Nature doing its thing without caring about our human problems. There's just something so satisfying about watching wild animals living their lives, waiting for minutes, hours, days, weeks to get the perfect shot, and then finally getting it. And if the picture can be funny, then it's an added bonus!
Today, I wanted to share with you a handful of my favorite bird shots. There's a lot, and I keep taking more almost every week, so expect more than one post on our feathered friends!
When it comes to shooting birds (with a camera, of course), the key thing to remember is to maintain your focus on their eyes. If you shoot with a small depth of field, you can quickly focus on the beak or the back of the head and the picture will not look as good (unless it is an artistic choice obviously). But, in most cases, focusing on the eye closest to you is the way to go for a good-looking bird shot.
Baby Blue Eyes
Lumix G7 - 150mm - f/5.6 - 1/640s - ISO 400
I was strolling in a park in Florida when this American white ibis landed right next to me and proceeded to pose for me for a while, giving me several angles and showing me its best profile, without getting scared. I have a lot of shots of ibises, I love the contrast between the pure white of their feathers, the pink beak and the beautiful blue eyes, but they tend to run/fly away when you start moving, however it felt like this one came specifically for this shoot. A great gift to make a photographer.
Lumix G7 - 150mm - f/5.6 - 1/500s - ISO 800
An important aspect of wildlife photography, especially for birds and other animals that move fast, is anticipation. Learning and recognizing natural behaviors will help you get amazing shots when you can anticipate what the subject will do next and be ready for it. I watched these Canadian geese live their lives in this pond for a while and started to notice recurring moves. I just had to stand still, get my settings right (highest shutter speed possible, burst mode, focus), keep watch on my intended target, and snap the shot when it started moving. This is exactly the shot I wanted, and I'm really happy with how it came out. I especially love how clear and still everything is (water droplets, neck and head, right wing) but you still get some motion blur on the left wing, indicating movement. I named this one Tchaikovsky because of Swan Lake, as it looks like this bird is conducting an orchestra.
You Talking To Me?
Lumix G7 - 150mm - f/5.6 - 1/320s - ISO 640
There's something about wildlife portraits that I just can't explain, they're just awesome. This is a good example of what I was talking about at the beginning with getting your focus right: missing the eye here would definitely ruin the shot (as I intended it). Getting the peacock's crest out of focus gives more depth to the whole portrait, and the resting b*tch face just gives it more character.
Lumix G7 - 150mm - f/5.6 - 1/320s - ISO 200
There's something so ominous with this picture. The devastated aspect of the leafless tree, the moon in the emptiness of the sky, the hawk turning its head 180º to get a better look at its target (me), and the sunset lighting giving it the mood it deserves. Red-tailed hawks are beautiful animals and pretty common in urban areas. It doesn't look like it, but this picture was taken as I was about to enter my apartment on a normal evening, and this unexpected photoshoot just made my day. I know I just said that planning and anticipation are key elements of wildlife photography, but sometimes you just need to embrace what nature is willing to give you at unexpected times.
Lumix G7 - 150mm - f/7.1 - 1/250s - ISO 500
I love this picture. The contempt look the muscovy duck is giving me, the drop of water on its beak, the "haircut"... I love how blurry and full of motion the background is compared to how still the duck is. This is one of the first pictures I ever took with my camera, I didn't know how things worked, I didn't know much about settings and I wasn't even shooting in raw, but I still managed to capture this side eye beauty of a shot and I honestly have no idea how. It's one of the pictures I spent the least time planning and working on (framing, settings, all this good stuff) but it's still one of my all-time favorites to this day.
Let me know which picture is your favorite! If you want to see more wildlife photography, you can head over to my instagram @pierre__lizet. Finally, all of these, and more, are available to download and use (in high quality and unbranded) on Shutterstock, Getty and Adobe Stock.
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