Snapping a photograph usually takes a fraction of a second, but ensuring that that photo is as good as it can be can take hours of preparation. Of all the types of photography, one the most difficult to prepare for is nature photography, and especially bird photography. However, steps can be taken to give the photographer control over the shot as a whole. In the video below, Arthur Morris explains how to properly scout the location when photographing birds in the wild:
In the video, Morris shares some photos that he has taken with his Canon EOS-1D X and shares his secrets for taking the best bird photos. He stresses the importance of two factors in scouting locations: light and wind.
Make sure the sun is straight behind you and the subject is right in front of you for the best lighting conditions. On occasion, you can even photograph 10-15 degrees on either side of your shadow, but mostly, you have to point your shadow at the subject. Silhouette shots are taken exactly the opposite way: have the sun directly in front of you, and the subject between you and the sun. Morris mentions liking the morning light, the golden hour right before sunset, and even afternoon light on cloudy days.
Birds don’t like facing away from the wind, as it ruffles their feathers and increases the wear and tear on them. It’s important to know the direction of the wind and position yourself accordingly; ideally, you want the wind to blow to the left or to the right of where you’re standing, in order to capture the best flight and landing photos. Even when they’re on the ground, birds like to face directly into the wind.
So there you have it, straight from a pro. If you take into account just these two crucial factors (lighting and wind) you will increase your chances of landing a great bird shot when you’re out in nature.