It’s always a good idea to study other photographers. In this video, photographer Tim Boyer reviews the work of successful bird photographers so that you can learn from their styles:
In a typical Arthur Morris styled bird photograph, the bird usually appears large and tight in the frame, with its head slightly turned to the camera. And the background is soft and blurred out. If you look at the birds in his images, they’re tack sharp and detailed. His images are clean and have minimal digital noise, if any.
In his photographs, Frans Lanting likes to show a little of the bird’s habitat. The bird is thus not as tightly framed. In fact, the images are a bit wider than those of Morris.
“He shoots wider to show you more of the habitat so you can actually learn more about the birds.”
Lanting also likes to tell stories with his bird photography and wants viewers to connect with the images. He believes that digital noise should not be a hindrance to taking images for telling a story. Telling a story and showing the bird in its habitat are more important to Lanting than getting a crisp portrait.
“Telling story with your image is a very important aspect of Frans Lanting’s shooting style.”
Another characteristic of Lanting’s images is that they have depth. He thus prefers to shoot at higher f-stops to have the foreground, the birds, and the backgrounds all in acceptable focus.
Tom Mangelson also likes to shoot wide and show birds in their habitats. And he likes to capture gestures, just like in street photography.
Another key feature of Mangelson’s bird photos is their depth. He frequently shoots at higher f-values so as to have greater sharpness in the image from the front to the back. This allows viewers to move their eyes around multiple layers of sharp things in the image.
“Art Wolf doesn’t talk about the rule of thirds or the golden spiral kind of concepts. But he talks about not putting the subject in the middle of the frame, and making sure that it’s offset.”
When studying Wolf’s work, you’ll thus see birds being placed off the center axis. You might also notice that he uses leading lines to draw attention to the birds.
Filling the frame is something that Wolf pays attention to when composing his photos. This is so that viewers don’t simply have a glance at the image and walk away. Filling the frame keeps viewers engaged by letting them spend some time looking around the image, trying to understand what is happening.
“Art Wolf wants you to connect with his images by being evocative and having some emotion.”
I hope these successful bird photographers will definitely give you an idea of where to start.
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