Of Birds and Lenses

by Hilary Halliwell April. 28, 2020 327 views

I live in an area with lots of birds. Not just small backyards birds, but larger water birds—Egrets, Herons, Ibis. I find them fascinating. I recently discovered a nesting site near my house. It is situated on a golf course, so the site was difficult to get to, but when the course temporarily closed, I took the opportunity to go exploring.

Egret in Flight (My very first in-focus BIF)

Egret in Flight (My very first in-focus BIF)

Unfortunately, I don't have the "right" gear for bird photography. The longest telephoto lens I have is 70-300, and since it is a kit lens that came with my camera, image quality gets dicey at the full telephoto range. This can be frustrating, but I am learning to work with the limitations of my equipment, which might help me to become a better photographer in the long run.

Red Winged Blackbird

Red Winged Blackbird

I have managed to get some decent bird images with this less-than-perfect lens by doing the following:

  • I avoid shooting wide open and at full zoom.
  • I shoot during early mornings or evenings, or on overcast days (I got some of my favorite images on an overcast day, right after a storm).
  • I find ways to approach the birds to get as close as I can without disturbing them.
  • I visit the area multiple times to get different types of shots.
  • I carefully correct minor aberrations and imperfections in Light Room.
  • I don't expect perfection, just images that are pleasing, and convey what intrigues me about the birds.

The bottom line—don't deny yourself the joy of doing a particular type of photography because you lack the "right" equipment. With a little planning, creativity, and hard work, it is possible to make pleasing images with whatever gear you have.

These bird photography walks provided me with a much needed break from the insanity that is happening in the world right now. And to think—I almost passed up the opportunity to watch and photograph these magnificent creatures because I all I had was a humble kit lens.

Great Egret

Great Egret

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron

Possibly a Juvenile Blue Heron

Possibly a Juvenile Blue Heron

Please note: I am not an expert on birds. I researched the species to identify them, so I let me know in the comments section if any of the captions need to be corrected.

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There are 11 comments , add yours!
Sherry Hill 1 month, 2 weeks ago

these are beautiful images.. i too use a similar zoom lens and i am rarely satisfied with the end results.. handshake is an issue, so i'm forever trying to brace the lens against something solid, like a tree.. 
anyway.. i'm rambling.. i love these.. :) captures and the subjects..

1 month, 2 weeks ago Edited
Angela Bourke Schultz 2 months, 1 week ago

I think these are wonderful!!

2 months, 1 week ago Edited
Hilary Halliwell Replied to Angela Bourke Schultz 2 months ago

Thanks!

2 months ago Edited
Benny Law 2 months, 1 week ago

You did a fantastic job with these captures and processing! I know lots of people look down on kit lenses, but my experience also tells me they are actually capable of great results too in the right hands.

2 months, 1 week ago Edited
Hilary Halliwell Replied to Benny Law 2 months, 1 week ago

I agree.  The camera came with an 18-55 too, which can also yield great results under the right conditions.

2 months, 1 week ago Edited
Frank 2 months, 1 week ago

Great pics!...did you use a teleconveter on that lens?...because it says your using a 70-200 and the EXIF says 280-300...keep up the great work!

2 months, 1 week ago Edited
Hilary Halliwell Replied to Frank 2 months, 1 week ago

The lens is definitely 70-300, not sure why the EXIF data says 70-200.

2 months, 1 week ago Edited
Bill Baird 2 months, 1 week ago

Great work there !!  I am attracted to shore birds also. All wildlife but the shore birds are fun to watch..... and wait forever for the right shot.  lol

2 months, 1 week ago Edited
Hilary Halliwell Replied to Bill Baird 2 months, 1 week ago

I know exactly what you mean--lots of blurry shots or part of the bird out of the frame.  I does take patience!

2 months, 1 week ago Edited
Richard Manning 2 months, 1 week ago

I think I have similar equipment.  It is so hard to get close to some types of birds, Blue Heron's especially! Nice shots!

2 months, 1 week ago Edited
Hilary Halliwell Replied to Richard Manning 2 months, 1 week ago

Yes, the herons are particularly skittish-plus we also have alligators, which complicates things even more.

2 months, 1 week ago Edited
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