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AAA Photo Session: Birds

how to photograph birds

The Northeast is home to birds of all sizes, colors and songs, from tiny finches to bald eagles.

Whether you are a casual backyard bird watcher that likes to feed the sparrows and spot the occasional cardinal or are a pro birder that could identify a red-tailed hawk from a mile away, it’s hard not to be impressed by our local feathered friends.

Have you ever caught up to a hummingbird fast enough to grab a photo or captured an owl mid-flight? Submit your best bird photographs below! We can’t wait to see and share them with the AAA Northeast community.

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How to Photograph Birds

Local photographer Kayla Mandeville shares a few pro tips and tricks to help you land the perfect bird photo.

“Photographing birds can be a bit challenging because they can be unpredictable and are often far away,” she said. “It requires time and patience.”

Equipment Is Important

“When photographing birds, your equipment is very important, more specifically your lens. To get a great shot of a bird you are going to need a telephoto lens. A telephoto lens can range from 150-600mm, 200-500mm, or on the lower end, 100-400mm. A lens size indicates how far away you can capture your subject. There is nothing worse than having the perfect shot lined up and not enough focal length to capture it. Larger lenses can be heavy, so with that being, I recommend using it with a tripod to avoid camera shake and produce a sharp image.”

Be Mindful of Your Camera Settings

“Camera settings are extremely important in bird photography. Be mindful of your ISO (brightness) and your shutter speed (the amount of time the sensor is exposed to light). A bird in flight requires a faster shutter speed than a stationary bird. In the moment, it is easy to forget to change your shutter speeds, but the wrong settings could leave you with a less than desirable image.”

Get help from our camera settings cheat sheet.

how to photograph birds
(Photo: Kayla Mandeville)

Closely Observe Their Behavior

“Birds can be unpredictable by nature. When photographing them, try to anticipate what they might do next, although it can make it difficult to compose your shot. Watch for subtle movements and patterns. This information is valuable when setting up your shot. It will enable you to predict their next move and get the best shot possible. It’s important to watch from afar – if you notice a bird changes its posture, or flies or runs away, it’s possible that you may be too close. You don’t want to approach a bird in a way where it induces stress or disrupts its natural behaviors. It is important to approach bird photography ethically.”

What’s Going on Around the Bird Is as Important as the Bird Itself

“While clean backgrounds are most desirable in bird photography, a background that complements the subject can work as well. Rather than just a shot of a bird, use background or foreground details to tell the story.”

By using these basic tips and giving it your own creative spin, you will be on your way to getting your bird shot for this month’s #AAAPhotoSesh. Check out last month’s sunset session for inspiration.

Thank You for Participating!

We were so impressed by your bird photos. Take a look at all of the amazing captures in the slideshow below and don’t forget to check our social media channels, where we will be featuring some of our favorites.

Stay tuned for the next AAA Photo Session, coming soon!

Get more photography tips.

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3 Thoughts on “AAA Photo Session: Birds

  1. So excited to discover the monthly photography sessions. Took a few of my pansies, and to my surprise….close up, many look angry. To funny! I was going to type below, HANGRY PANSY! Did not think these photos were up to par, but after reviewing just a few, I regret not sending. Could you tell me the tip, on how to view these photo sessions? I must be doing something wrong because after several tries, I have come up empty. Thank you! Looking forward to participating, as we all can learn more during this journey… Have a good day!

    1. Hi Sandra, so happy to hear that you are enjoying our Photo Sessions and are interested in participating. If you’d like to look back on past photo sessions, please go to Within each Photo Session, there’s a slideshow of all the submissions we received. The deadline for our last session (flowers) just passed, but we will be posting a new one in early July, where you will see a form to submit a photo. Hope that is helpful! Looking forward to seeing some of your pictures in upcoming Photo Sessions. 🙂 -Marisa

  2. This blue jay came around every day and it wasn’t afraid of people . It stayed for weeks until it was attacked by a Hugh hawk and got taken away by the hawk .

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