Secrets to photographing wading birds

Snowy Egret, Treasure Island, Florida

We’re coming upon a great time to photograph wading birds as they take on brilliant mating plumage. A long lens will help reach out to the birds as well as help maintain a good working distance. If the bird starts to become fidgety, you’re getting too close. Next, the bird will be taking flight.

Early mornings provides nice light and birds are often feeding or stalking prey in shallow beach edges and we are able to move closer. My typical camera setting for this is Aperture Priority and opening the lens up all the way. It usually results in the most shutter speed for the lower natural light and makes backgrounds go soft.

Using the lowest ISO possible makes for sharp images with less noise. A tripod when using a long lens may be necessary; although, some of the latest cameras have very good Image Stabilizers.

If in areas new to me, I may scout them first. Other times, I just drive areas until I locate subjects then approach quietly. With Herons, I often will be able to get closer by not making eye contact and wandering around as though I’ve lost my keys in the sand, as I slowly move closer.

The Alligator Farm…

A super place to photograph nesting birds is the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine, Florida. A network of boardwalks winds around and over alligator infested water, inside the facility, providing protection for possible predators. The nesting birds must like it, as they fly in through the open area to nest. If arriving early, before the regular opening time, one can avoid bouncing boardwalks of running exuberant children or other overzealous photographers. Regular admission is $24.95 for adults. If wishing to enter as early as 8AM and/or stay as late at 6PM, an Annual Photo Membership is available for $89.95 or a two day for $65. The Alligator Farm is located at 999 Anastasia Blvd. St. Augustine, FL 32080. To verify arrival plans call them at 904.824.3337.



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