Central American birds are among the most colorful and beautiful, and the birds of Belize are no exception. I took a trip to Belize a few months ago and while I did not photograph many birds I hadn’t seen before, I was able to capture some familiar, but beautiful birds in different poses and lighting situations that really did make me feel the excitement of seeing and photographing them for the first time.
The building blocks of best bird photography
In recent years more and more people have been coming to me with the question of what makes great bird photography. I’ve enjoyed talking about this topic face to face with fellow birders struggling with the challenges of photographing birds as well as seasoned wildlife photographers. As I explore the world of blogging, I am hoping I can use this platform to share my point of view and do whatever I can to help other aspiring wildlife photographers develop the skills to take the kinds of photographs they want to be able to take, photos that “wow” them.
Putting together the best bird photo
First of all, atmosphere, the quality of the light, the setting and environment are extremely important. Is the sun overhead at noon, causing harsh shadows and contrast, or is it filtering through the trees? Is the bird surrounded by beautiful flowers or leaves? Do dead leaves that have been eaten up by insects ruin the shot?
I have photographed Baltimore Orioles many times over the years, but as I photographed this one, and looked at it on the back of my camera, it truly made my heart sing. Here’s why: this photo embodies many of the key elements that make a great bird photograph. In the case of this shot of a bird that is on many lists of favorite birds, especially baseball fans from Baltimore, the light is gorgeous. The natural light of the sun falls on the bird as if it were shot in a studio. The background is uncluttered and beautiful, the branch on which he perches, clean and elegantly simple. Nothing distracts from the beauty of the bird. Also, I love the blur in this Baltimore Oriole shot. I did not further blur in Photoshop, although I suppose someone could.
How can a background make or break a photo?
Backgrounds are a key interest of mine. They should always enhance the photo and not distract. The background does not have to be one solid color. Sometimes, a myriad of colors blurred together gives a lovely painterly effect.
Overall it’s all about the subject, birds.
I’ve mentioned all the things but the bird so far, so I’m sure you’re curious about what makes the bird itself so great. To me, the most important thing is the bird’s attitude and pose. When the bird has what I call attitude, it makes the photo unique and unforgettable. This Baltimore Oriole’s personality certainly shows in this picture. He’s staring boldly at the viewer with a confident look in his eye. The bird’s eye is of utmost importance to me. The eye must be sharp and clear so that the viewer’s eye is drawn to it. This bird’s eye is razor-sharp. I am drawn to its gaze every time I look at this photo.
Consider all of these elements when you are shooting. Be patient, stop and review your pictures as you shoot. If you don’t have it, don’t walk away until you do. Keep all these elements in mind, be patient, and you’ll be sure to make some breathtaking images!