by | Apr 20, 2011 | Tips & Tricks | 6 comments

Since day one in Korea, I hoped I’d have some time for birding in the nearby parks on a clear morning. Not many mornings are clear, so when I woke up a few days ago to see the sun spreading it’s fresh light over the landscape, I got up in a hurry! Though it was almost 7:00, I figured the birds would still be out for another hour or two.

I was planning on hiking out to a small pond over the hill, but on the way, I purposed to would take my time and enjoy whatever might be along the trail. To my surprise, there were many of them! Though I don’t have the greatest of equipment in the world for photographing birds, here are a few things I’ve found helpful in getting good pictures:

  • Let the birds come to you; they won’t let you get close to them. There are exceptions to the rule, but generally, you will scare anything away if you try to move closer to it. I’ve done it over and over again.
  • Be extremely patient. Only two birds came close enough to get a satisfactory shot during an entire 20 minute wait in one spot; and that was with dozens of them flying all around me.
  • Keep the camera close to your face and have all the settings on your camera ready at any given moment. Perching birds move around quickly, and opportunities are fleeting when they are close enough to shoot.
  • Position yourself close to where birds like to be. Don’t stand in the middle of a clearing; sit within “shooting range” of tree trunks, low hanging branches, or thick patches of grass.
  • Do not shoot birds against the sky. This really isn’t that difficult as is really only a matter of where you position yourself. If you have to, over expose by at least one stop to keep them from being completely silhouetted against the sky.
  • Focus on the eye; it is where viewers look first. And catching a glint in the eye makes the bird look alive. When it looks toward the light source, it’s the time to show off your fps!

3508_Canon EOS 40D, 190 mm, 1-320 sec at f - 4.0, ISO 400

3553_Canon EOS 40D, 200 mm, 1-800 sec at f - 5.6, ISO 400

3523_Canon EOS 40D, 200 mm, 1-500 sec at f - 5.0, ISO 400

3598_Canon EOS 40D, 200 mm, 1-250 sec at f - 3.5, ISO 400

I never made it to the pond, actually. I didn’t get too much further then over the hill by the time my hour was up. But it was worth it. The pond will have to wait for a future excursion.


  1. Timothy Hynes

    Excellent! What lens did you use for these?

  2. Robert

    Nice, James! Behold the fowls of the air!

  3. James Staddon

    The Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM; Jennifer was kind enough to let me rent hers for all these weeks that I’m in Korea!

  4. Timothy Hynes

    Ahh. The 70-200 2.8 is a pretty good birding lens. I guess the ideal would be something like a 300mm prime.

  5. Donald S.

    And here’s for a species identification:
    1)Coal Tit (similar to our Black-capped Chickadee 🙂 )
    2)Appears to be the Gray-crowned Woodpecker or Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
    3)Appears to be the White-backed Woodpecker or Middle Spotted Woodpecker
    4) Brown-eared Bulbul (Identifying this one brought back sweet memories of the Red-whiskered Bulbuls in Hong Kong! They are almost Old World equivalents for our cardinals, more on the colorful and vocal side. Notice also the picture under Bulbul on Wikipedia:

  6. James Staddon

    Thank you Donald!! They are all new species to me!


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