When you photograph birds, their beauty really gets in focus against a clean and simple background. But when you’re out there with your camera, it can be pretty difficult to get a nice and clean background in bird photos. In this video, Jan Wegener shares a couple of simple tricks that will help you raise your photos to a whole new level.
When you’re shooting birds out in the wild, there can be lots of distractions ruining the background. You can get excited and just start shooting away as you see the bird, but Jan suggests it’s not the best approach. If you want to get a nice and simple background, it’s about the mindset as much as it is about the gear and the shooting technique.
When you see the bird you want to photograph, take a few “safety shots.” But then, it’s time to get more intentional. Think about the background when shooting, and look for it. Try finding a better angle to get a better background, move with your camera a bit to the left and right, or get lower or higher with it. Oftentimes just changing the point of view can do wonders.
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Of course, other than the mindset, you should think about other elements. One of them is the distance between your lens, the bird and the background. If the background is close to the bird, it’s difficult to get it nice and smooth, sometimes even impossible. The closer you are to the bird and the further it is from the background – the smoother your background is going to be.
The lens is another important factor to consider. Basically, the longer the lens, the easier it is to get a creamy, smooth background. A wide aperture can smooth out the background further. However, Jan prefers shooting at f/8 so he makes sure that the bird is entirely in focus. He usually combines this aperture with the background that’s further away from the subject.
Now, you can also “cheat” a bit and use a perch you’ll place where it suits you. Think about the background, compose the shot, and place the perch for the birds to land on. I guess you can lure them with some seeds, and when they land you can photograph them. Or you can “cheat” even further and just photograph them in a studio like my teammate John, but that’s a topic for a whole new article. : )