What Makes a Good Bird Photo?

Bird photography is a popular genre that can be undertaken in a variety of different ways, with each style presenting its own challenges. Nonetheless, there are common elements in what makes a successful bird photo, and this excellent video features two seasoned pros discussing seven important aspects of every compelling image. 

Coming to you from Jan Wegener and Glenn Bartley, this awesome video discusses seven elements of a successful bird image. Of them, I think one of the most fundamental is simply getting the bird sharp. Because of the environments and settings involved, you will often have to bump up the ISO a bit, and this often leads to the temptation to push the shutter speed lower to avoid introducing noise from those higher ISOs. While using the lowest ISO possible is certainly desirable, if you push the shutter speed too low, you risk blurring either from the subject moving or from your hands shaking (especially with longer focal lengths). You can always do things in post to reduce noise, but once a photo is blurry due to camera shake or subject blur, there is not much you can do to save it. Check out the video above for the full rundown. 

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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Jan Wegener is a master, and even though I hate videos, I'll watch his because his advice is always spot-on. And he's anything but a gear head; it's all about the end product.

One of his points here is the need to get the bird's eye. I couldn't agree more and even wrote a blog post about it:

Jan seems like a good guy and I would love the opportunity to visit and shoot with him. Jan
's videos are packed with information, however they would be better served if they were edited for content/time. 30 minutes for 7 elements of a bird shot is excessive.

And that's why I hate videos. It's the slowest way of conveying information ever devised by the mind of man.

But if course - any bird photographer needs patience. 😊