Photographing Your Birds:

One of the best parts of BirdHobbyist is that we can view each other’s parrots in the picture gallery and read about them on the discussion boards. It is not necessary to have a digital camera or an expensive 35-mm equipment to take nice shots of your birds. In fact, despite the fact that I still have several very expensive 35mms lying around, all of the photos I’ve uploaded were shot using a Canon point-and-shoot 35mm that costs less than $100. The key is not in the technology itself, but in how you utilize it. The only “equipment” suggestion I have is to get a camera with a built-in telephoto lens.

The first thing to remember is that parrots, like children, are more prone to provide those “Kodak moments” during inconvenient times, so you must be prepared for them. That involves keeping your camera filled with film and at a convenient location. You will most likely lose your greatest photographs if you have to search for your camera, much alone load it with film. (Of course, those of us with enormous parrots must also select a location that is convenient yet inaccessible to those big, inquisitive beaks.) Mine, along with the cage keys, is normally hung on a hook immediately outside the bird room door.)

Now you’re ready to grasp and shoot quickly in order to capture those adorable postures that appear out of nowhere. However, you’ll want to aim for more “formal” photos as well, which will need a bit more preparation.

Some people have instant concerns with birds that regard the camera as a terrifying thing that has definitely attached itself to their face. Although this may result in ONE amusing image, you will shortly become tired of the same stance. One solution is to just pretend to snap photographs all the time until the bird becomes used to seeing you with this “thing” over your face.

Of course, every now and again you come across the reverse problem…a camera-hogging parrot. Tess, my hybrid macaw, is like this; she enjoys posing but also believes in extreme close-ups. She’ll stop whatever she’s doing, which is generally what I want to photograph in the first place, and rush in for a close-up. These two issues have a single remedy, which is why I propose a telephoto lens. When photographing the shy parrot, you can step back and still obtain a good shot, whereas the ham is less likely to be “in your face” when you stand back. Telephoto lenses can assist soften the backdrop, which is typically a plus. Furthermore, the fact that you’re not that near frequently causes the bird to forget you’re there, increasing the likelihood of a more “natural” seeming position.

Backgrounds may be a big distraction in any photograph, particularly when it comes to parrots, since most of us end up with a backdrop of cage bars, play-gyms, toys, and the like. You can “remove” some of this with your computer now, (well, maybe YOU can, I haven’t worked it out yet), but it’s preferable to obtain as simple a backdrop as possible.

Almost all of my photographs include the bird perched on a play-stand. If feasible, set the stand against a simple wall, since I have a Hahns Macaw on my hand, ready to pluck out of Zu’s grasp if he becomes TOO interested.

Group photographs may be entertaining. This is a favorite of mine, and people are usually surprised that I have seven macaws that would share a play-stand. If you look carefully, you’ll see I’m cheating; they’re on two distinct stands, one of which is really a cage door.

Remember to take your time. It’s not often that you can simply set a parrot on a stand and capture a decent photo. Allow the bird(s) to settle in while you prepare the camera. You won’t have to wait long before you begin snapping.

It’s not difficult to take nice shots of your birds. Simply keep your camera accessible, make your backdrops as subtle as possible, and click away. It’s difficult to take a terrible photo with such beautiful, lively subjects, and with just a little effort, you may have fantastic ones to share.

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