|a female summer tanager|
Before embarking on a trip into the field to photograph birds or other wildlife, it may be important to do preliminary research. Weather often plays a major role in the success of a trip. Other environmental factors may also affect bird behavior, such as tides, moon phases, or other events.
A checklist may also be helpful before heading into the field. These usually cover essential equipment such as camera batteries, sun block, insect repellent, hat, eyewear, and other gear.
Time of day is an important factor when photographing birds and other wildlife. Early morning is often the most active time for songbirds. Another busy period may come in the last hour or so of daylight. When photographing songbird species, the photographer must take into account, not only time of day, but light levels and the sun's position.
Some birds are extremely shy and will not tolerate the presence of humans. In some cases, A blind may be necessary in order to get high quality songbird photographs. In other situations, the photographer cannot get close and instead must use telephoto lenses.
Hundreds of species of birds tend to be found near water. Obviously, ducks, geese and shorebirds are drawn to water, but songbirds such as warblers, waxwings and others are often found along streams, creeks, lakes or ponds. Kayaking or canoeing is often one of the most effective means of approaching these birds.
As the saying goes, patience is a virtue. Successful bird photography often requires that the photographer remain still in the environment. Movement, noise and the glimmer of equipment is likely to alarm birds. In some cases, birds are actually quite curious and if a photographer's actions are non-threatening, they may actually approach to investigate.
To capture images of songbirds, photographers should dress appropriately. Earth toned clothing is preferred as it seems to attract less attention. Bright colored jackets, hats, or shiny accessories are usually avoided as they can draw attention to the photographer. During cool weather, layered clothing will allow photographers to add or remove items as conditions change.
Before going into the field, it is important to be familiar with cameras and accessories. In some cases, camera settings may need to be hastily adjusted in the field. Knowing equipment features can make the difference between a once in a lifetime photograph and a missed opportunity.
Always be alert and ready when scouting out potential areas. Birds often appear unexpectedly but rarely remain in view for long. An opportunity to photograph a bird of interest may last only a few seconds.