“How and Where Where to Photograph Birds” by Isak Pretorius
“Good, better, best.
Never let it rest,
until the good is better,
and the better, best”…
Isak Pretorius’s book that sets out to do just that.
This book is recently published Jacana title.
I have tried to emulate his advice,
both in the bush
in our suburban garden
I have this book on my Smartphone
and it comes in extremely useful on game drives.
Unlike the printed version, which can be found on my desk at home,
it offers the calls of many of the species.
Now,with the addition of Isak’s book to my “bush library”,
I am ready for almost any photographic situation.
Except for running out of batteries!
By comparison,trees(this is a living Leadwood)
are the EASY part of bird photography…
They tend not to fly off, and if you miss the shot,
another one can be easily found
Not so with bird photography.
It requires the patience of Job and a really good sense of anticipation.
If you currently find yourself lacking in either of these areas,
THIS is the book for you!
Proper lighting, a clean background are important to both the image
and the identification of the species.
In this case a Steppe Buzzard.
If you are out alone or as part of a bird photography course,
it is easier to spend time changing positon to get all the aspects to line up.
Not so easy if you are in a game drive vehicle with other guests.
Chapter 7 gives you advice on getting close to your subject.
Either on foot, in a vehicle, by boat on from a hide
This is the type of image that many of us have.
Probably more than we would like to admit to.
This Insider’s Guide will make you more aware of what birds might do,
and how to anticipate that in order to capture the “perfect” image
This is NOT the way that this species would want to be photographed
Isak’s book will help you to get a shot like this.
The entire bird, in flight AND in focus
African Spoonbills make for interesting subjects.
Try to get them while they are foraging for food.
The “money-shot” is capturing them with a fish between their bills.
The book explains shutter speed, ISO and aperture in detail
Be aware of the background when you shoot.
This Three-banded Plover almost vanishes into the water behind it.
Unfortunately, I was unable to get a better shot.
LBJ’s…the bain of every bird photographer.
But, in this case it was more their behaviour that attracted me.
The book extols the virtues of making
sure your subject best represents its species.
HOWEVER, don’t let that stop you from taking pictures.
Often the “fluff-up-your-feathers” images are representative
of a particular behaviour that you might not be aware of.
Even with all the information that the book offers,
being in the right place at the right time can result in a shot like this.
The excrement was part of a Puffadder breakfast
that this junior Brown Snake Eagle had been enjoying
before he was rudely interrupted by our vehicle.
And the advice it dispenses is “almost” guaranteed
to make your bird photography better.
It might be too late for Christmas 2014,
but as a “give-yourself-a-gift”, it is be hard to beat
If I have any complaints it is the fact that
Isak only compares Canon and Nikon brands.
This is the age old camera equipment argument,
even though there are a plethora of DSLR bodies (and lenses)
that will offer you similar specs.
Aside from the bush experience,
I tried some of his advice in our garden…
This Green-billed Wood Hoepoe was trying on a Barbet nesting log for size.
It might not be the “perfect” shot,
but I was able to capture the insect in its beak
The same shot, cropped…
And I can now see that the insect is in fact a small twig.
The distracting branch has also been removed from the foreground.
A better composition?
It took me almost 300 shots to get both of them
to look in almost the same direction.
Patience is the main attribute of a dedicated bird photographer
I could have cropped the top bird out,
but the tail would have remained in shot.
I was unable to change position,
and I was therefore relying on the birds to move.
This is the “owner” of the nesting log.
Crested Barbets always remind me of little old men.
From a composition point of view,
the branch on the right might be distracting.
That being said, the beauty of digital photography
is the delete facility.
An Olive Thrush with a mid-morning snack
Again, perhaps not the perfect image,
but I am becoming more aware of what to look for.
Our garden is currently filled with several species
that will eventually be photographed.
The chapters in the book are self explanatory and make for easy reading:
1) Choosing the right equipment:
2) Different modes for different applications:
3) Making good exposures
4) How light effects photography
5) How to make sharp images
6) Designing your images
7) Getting up close to your subject
8) Capturing bird behaviour
9) Bird photography hotspots
10) Different settings for different shots
Published by Jacana, it can be ordered from www.kalahari.com
In each chapter you will find tips from Isak on how to make your images “POP”…
Unlike magicians who refuse to share secrets,
this book lets you in his world and is transparent about what makes his images special.