Don’t get in a flap, photograph it instead

This is the second post in a series I’m doing called, How to Improve your bird photos.
This series will provide basic tips on how to improve your bird images.


In this post, we are going to look at how to create images that impact your audience.
There are many ways of adding drama or making dynamic images when it comes to bird photography this short essay is but one of many things you can consider.


Wait for something to happen

Really effective portrait shots of birds, especially of waterfowl can simply feature birds at rest on the water.
A good simple image, taken as close as one can get to the eye level of the bird that the terrain and conditions allow, shows the bird off in all of its splendour.

This is a male pāpango, Black Teal or best known as the New Zealand Scaup at rest and  relaxed

 

A male kuruwhengi or Australasian shoveler at rest. We have the profile, we have the colour but do we have impact?


Don’t get in a flap, wait for it

When it comes to waterfowl wait for the classic pose known as THE FLAP.
The FLAP is dynamic, it adds drama and often addition colours of the bird not available when the bird is at rest on the water.

Mr pāpango, in a flap

 

Mrs pāpango, might not have the colour Mr pāpango has, but she can flap with the best of them.

 

Mr kuruwhengi showing off his flashy wing colours that we would otherwise never see in a resting pose.

 

This kawau paka or Little Shag, going through its black morph phase can also lay down his moves.

 

Even Mrs kōtare the Kingfisher gets in a flap every now and again.


How to know its coming.

Water Fowl generally let you know when they are about to flap their wings.
The telltale signs that the flap is on the way is when they duck their heads under the water and extend their necks lengthwise, then lift that neck and head stiffly until up out of the water until upright.
Some say this is how they drink, but that does not explain why the flap nearly always follows immediately after the dunking.
I say its part of the bathing process and nearly always comes at the end of the bathing process.  Doing this weird display allows water to flow down the neck and on to the shoulders and the flap is their way of drying off.
Either way, look for the Ridgid neck and head ducking, you then know the flap is on the way.

With the colours Mr Wood Duck has to show off, flapping your wings is making a real statement.

 

Mrs Wood Duck might not have the colours Mr Wood Duck has, but what a magnificent chest she has. I suspect this is a power move lol


There you have it, how not to avoid getting into a flap while catching it with your camera sensor at the same time.

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Watch your Background

This is the first post in a series I’m doing called, How to Improve your bird photos.
This series will provide basic tips on how to improve your bird images.


You’re telling the story

When you drop the shutter you have just started to write the first paragraph of a story.
This story is about what got your attention and what motivated you to take the shot in the first place.
In almost every case when it comes to photographing birds, the bird is the star of the show.
As such your bird should be on show in all it’s glory and nothing else in your photo should overwhelm or compete with your star.


Painting with Light

Photography basically means painting with light and there are a few rules of how the human eye reacts to light.
Firstly when looking at someone’s image the human eye is automatically attracted to the brightest part of the image overriding or bypassing all objects or lesser light values in the race to the light at the end of the tunnel.

Below is an example of how if your main subject is close to a much brighter patch of light, that light overwhelms and makes it hard to see detail in your subject.

In this case, the entire background is overwhelming my bird making it much harder for our eyes to comfortably rest on it and see the fine detail.


First appearances count, make it easy

That first and instantaneous appearance is important and if the attention of the viewer is immediately drawn away from your bird, they may not be bothered putting in the extra effort of shifting their focus back on to your main subject.
You must not muddy your story, you must make it as easy as possible for your viewer, guiding them immediately to the star of the show.


Watch your background

In this second image, I have looked closely at my background and choosen an area on the pond with a more suitable background.
I choose a background that not only won’t compete with my bird but has colours that actually enhance and complement my handsome bird. I simply positioned my self in the right spot and waited for my bird to drift past.

Being thoughtful and the patient, choosing your background can do better justice to your subject and increase the admiration in your viewers as your star stands out in all their glory.

I run workshops on the Kapiti Coast specialising in bird photography and if you’re interested in a workshop to help you improve your bird photography  I  do 4-hour workshops 1 on 1 or a small group up to 4 people.

Contact me HERE  or pm me on facebook

What a difference a day Makes

This is the third post in my 2018 Christmas South Island Road Trip series with Steve Richards.


As I lay in my little tent, the cold slowly seeped through my summer weight sleeping bag and into my bones. The rain had stopped and the stars had come out and the promise of a fine morning meant a possible rematch with the Black-Fronted Terns.
But that was cold comfort for me at the time and man did I wish I had my winter sleeping bag with me.
It’s the 22nd of December for goodness sakes, it isn’t supposed to be this cold in summer.
Eventually, I drifted off to sleep and as what happens most nights, the morning arrived chasing away the darkness.
I crawled my way out of my tent to be welcomed by a pale blue sky.
Steve was all comfy in the wagon but it took little persuasion to get us back down the road to take on the birds. We were on a mission.

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Molesworth Station, Terns, Hares and Dabchicks


This is the second post in my 2018 Christmas South Island Road Trip series with Steve Richards.


This January and most of February has been spent much the same way as previous years, namely endlessly sorting and processing images from our Christmas trip.

Molesworth Station

My last post finished up with Steve and I in Blenheim preparing to travel through the 180,787 hectare Molesworth Station.
Steve and I had always been intrigued by the thought of doing the 207-kilometre trip through the Molesworth, from Blenheim to Hanmer Springs. We wanted to explore the scenery and take some landscape images.

 

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A Disappointing Start

This is the first post in my 2018 Christmas South Island Road Trip series with Steve Richards.


The Wairau Lagoons, just outside of Blenheim was to be our first port of call on our latest trip south this Christmas. We were there to find and photograph the Glossy Ibis, of which we saw only one, but it was seen at a great distance away. However, what we did see up close was heartbreaking.

An hour out from dark, cats started to make an appearance. Not just one or two but perhaps as many as half a dozen were seen as we walked back to the car.

Cute Kitten, but disastrous to bird life and Lizards.

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