With the purchase of a new lens, I've recently taken up amateur birding. And one of the best places I've found to hone this new skill is literally right in my own backyard.
Up until owning the Zuiko 100-400mm f/5.0-6.3 zoom, I've never possessed a lens with enough optical reach to make most bird photography practical. And while I'm still learning, I have discovered several key things:
- Be patient
- Be ready
- Long lenses are a must
- Fast shutter speeds are often critical, especially with small birds (subject movement) and with long lenses (camera shake)
- Image stabilization or a solid brace is incredibly helpful
- Fast lenses are ideal, but not mandatory
- Don't be afraid of high ISO settings - If you are concerned about noise, consider tools like Topaz DeNoise, or use Lightroom's noise reduction in conjunction with local adjustments.
The images below are all captured in my backyard in Scarborough. My elevated wrap-around deck gives me a good vantage point and mobility, without disturbing the birds too much.
I think I must be on some migratory bird path, having now seen Yellow-Bellied Sap Suckers and Hermit Thrushes, along with the usual suspects of cardinals, robins, chickadees and sparrows.
I doubt I will ever be more than a "casual birder," but I am enjoying this additional facet to my craft; it adds a new challenge and forces me to think and respond in ways that my landscape work does not.
I'm looking forward to seeing what wildlife I can capture at the cottage this summer!