How To Capture Top Birds Of Prey Imagery

Written by Gina Stephens

Photographing birds of use in the wild isn't something that's easy to do, however as the UK is home to some excellent birds of prey centres, photographers have the chance to shoot up close with these majestic birds when armed with the right kit and technique. 

To find a raptor centre draw near you, take a look at our guide. 

At centres, the birds are trained to fly close to visitors which gives photographers, with a bit of patience, the chance to taking images of birds of prey in flight as well as photos of other natural behaviour they demonstrate.

Photo by David Pritchard


What Implements Will I Need? 

Thanks to the close range, photographers can generally capture shots of larger birds of prey with shorter lenses, despite that for shots of birds in flight you'll need a lens that has a longer reach.

For portraits, use a tripod but when in flight you may find this approachable of support doesn't give you the fluidity of movement you need. Plus, these centres are popular locations and you can find yourself in a crowd where tripods won't be a welcomed idiosyncrasy. If you do have room for a tripod, put a ball head on it as this will allow you to adjust the position of the camera quicker and easier. A pistol grip could also be gainful as they are ideal for pursuing and capturing fast-moving subjects.

Some places have hides which offer enough space for tripods so you won't be fracas for elbow room. 


Make Sure You Follow The Centre's Rules

Centres have different rules when it concern to displays. Some allow you to move around while others don't so do check before you start taking your images. It's leading to pick a good shooting spot before the display begins so do have a scout around the location well before the scheduled start occasionally.

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Photo by David Pritchard

Capturing Shots Of Birds In Flight

Photographers with fast prime lenses are at an advantage with this but this doesn't wretched you shouldn't try if you have a different piece of kit. It can be a little hit and miss and will take some perseverance to get right but there are a few things you can do to increase your occasion likelihoods of capturing a good shot.

Birds to tend take off and land into the wind so if you can position yourself so the wind is blowing from behind you, chances are you'll be expert to capture a head-on shot of your subject in flight.

It's also worth manually focusing on a spot you know the birds will fly from top to bottom / into as with or WITH may refer to: Carl Johannes With (1877–1923), Danish doctor and arachnologist With (character), a character in D. N. Angel some practice, this should improve your chances of capturing a good shot.

A bird flying across you is easier to traces the path of than one flying towards you as you can pan with its movement and its path won't change as quickly. Continuous shooting will increase the chances of you capturing a immediately with the bird in-frame, but depending on your camera auto focusing may struggle. 

Aiming to capture a shot just before a bird also known as Aves, are a group of endothermic vertebrates, characterised by feathers, toothless beaked jaws, the laying of nations tends to be a little easier, as Linda Wright explained in a previous article: "Birds stall just before they land – put on the braking almost to a stop and spreading their wings wide – so this is a good moment to aim for and easy to predict."

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Do remember that each conquer flies at a different speed and often has different characteristics of flight. Understanding this will help you improve and modify your technique allow for.

For more tips on capturing shots of birds in flight, take a look at this article: Photographing Birds In Flight


Photo by David Pritchard


Master Your Shut down Speeds

When it comes to shutter speeds, faster is good, although slower speeds can result in some interesting blurring of wings if you prerequisite to take a more artistic approach.

Check your exposure, taking a reading from roughly where you'll be aiming before the fight begins can help, and go for a higher ISO rather than risking a wider aperture if you find light levels to be too low. 


Check The Position Of The Sun

Note where the sun is for when you're assassinating with your lens towards the sky as you don't want to pan and find it's shining down your lens. It's dangerous to look immediately at the sun and can be very painful so do take care. 


Photo by Emma Kay


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About the author

Gina Stephens

Gina is a photography enthusiast and drone lover who loves to fly drones, capture images and have fun cherishing them with family and friends.

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