5-Star Photography Tips

There are many websites devoted to bird photography (see the links below), each with its own take on the following:

  • Generally shoot at high shutter speeds, generally 1/1000 and above. If your subject is not moving, slower speeds between 1/400 and 1/800 may work. On the other ned of the spectrum, flying birds will need even higher speeds than 1/1000.

  • Try and have the sun behind you. Have your shadow point towards the bird.

  • Make sure that the main subject's eye is in focus.

  • Watch your backgrounds carefully. We often overlook the trash or bright areas behind the bird because we are so fixated on the subject.

  • Be patient, quiet and be still - Let the bird get used to you. Watch how it works the environment. Anticipate what it will do and where it will go next.

  • Editing considerations - don't zoom-in too close. Leave room to allow for post-editing subject positioning, leveling the horizon and to leave room for the bird to have space to move into.

eBird Descriptions of star ratings for photos

  • 5 Stars: Excellent quality. High resolution and in sharp focus. Lighting should be good and the bird at least fairly large in the frame and not significantly obscured.

  • 4 Stars: Very good quality. High resolution and in good focus, at least decent lighting, and bird reasonably large in frame. One or two of these factors may be less than ideal and prevent from achieving 5 stars.

  • 3 Stars: Decent quality. High or medium resolution with decent focus. Lighting might be less than ideal; bird might be smaller in frame or somewhat obscured. Might have several factors that prevent it from being rated higher.

  • 2 Stars: Poor quality. Could be a good image but at a noticeably low resolution, or high resolution but with significant flaws. Lighting might be severely backlit or poorly exposed. Image might be good but the bird is extremely small in the frame or mostly obscured.

  • 1 Star: Very poor quality. Very low resolution or very poor focus; bird may be very small or obscured in the frame or have extremely bad exposure. In general should only be uploaded as record shots, if still identifiable.