He knows I’m stalking him. It makes him nervous. I try to back off, but this is so important to me! Will he ever show himself?
He sings cheerfully. I see movement here and there. But his cover is concealing him. I’m not even sure the singer is the one I am looking for. I have been waiting for five minutes. It feels like an hour. Now his song is floating through the light breeze.
The Lazuli Bunting pops up out of the bushes, finally. I lift my camera, point it, and click. Nothing happens. I have waited so long the camera turned itself off. “Drat!” I growl and fiddle to turn it back on. I raise the camera to my eye again. The Bunting is gone. I sigh.
I am an amateur birder and photographer. Even after several years of birding I still can identify only about ten or fifteen species without a bird book.
I take a lot of pictures. I take multiple pictures to ensure getting a decent one. Especially of birds. So I call myself a birding paparazzi, though I don’t take advantage of anyone for profit and I have a day job.
My stars are beautiful, every one of them. There are blue herons, rosy finches, house sparrows and more. I have a long wish list of more birds I want to see and photograph, called a life list.
Here are some tips for other bird photographers. First, be prepared to wait, and to fail. Do not give up, though. If not today, maybe you will get your prize tomorrow.
Work with the bigger birds first. I know the temptation to snap the small, colorful bird. Resist, unless you have a rare chance to get your dream photo. Start with ducks, gulls and herons. You can practice a lot on these willing characters. Not only are they bigger, but usually they are slower.
Next, you will have to learn how to deal with blurs. I use the sports continuous feature on my camera. As with your binoculars, try to spot the bird, then raise the camera to view it and take your picture. Keep your arms as steady as possible, or use a tripod.
Think of settings. Try to get the tree branch that the bird is on into the picture. Try to get an expanse of water and sky with the ducks and gulls at the beach. Sometimes the scenery will tell a tale. The first time I saw a Canada goose in a tree I took a picture of it. I didn’t know Canada geese roosted in trees. I still enjoy the picture.
Finally, consider your lighting. Sometimes a matter of a few steps can make a difference in your picture in terms of light and subsequently, color.
I’m planning on a weekend of excitement, glamor and fun. Okay, so I’m going bird watching. I may slip in some mud, miss my target and come home insect bitten. But I’m going to take my camera and try to find some birds. That spells fun to me, the bird paparazzi.