With a little tech savvy and a lot of patience, you can get great pictures of birds with your smartphone. We’re sure many of you have been watching your bird friends flying around the feeders in the backyard, and thought to yourself, “Wow, what a picture-perfect moment!”
Lucky for you, that smartphone in your pocket will allow you to easily snap that shot in a jiffy. You may think this might be a difficult task, but have no fear! We have a few simple tips to help you take perfect pictures of your feathered friends with your smartphone every time.
1. Put the sun at your back when possible
Lighting is key when taking a picture. A flash can help brighten up your images, but they tend to not work well outside during the day. Instead, why not use the biggest light source we know — the sun.
If the time of day (and the bird) allows it, put the sun to your back and allow it to light up your subject. This will ensure that your favorite wild birds show up even better in your digital photos.
2. Focus your camera
When you see that hummingbird buzzing around your feeder, you may want to quickly pull out your smartphone and snap a shot before it flies away. However, before taking the picture, you need to make sure that your camera is focusing on that little hummer — not the lovely wind spinner hanging next to your feeder.
To focus your smartphone camera, simply tap on the screen where your subject is. The box that appears in the center of your screen shows you where your camera has the focal point. If you’d like to move the focus to another area in the frame, simply tap and the square should zip the focus to that point.
3. Don’t use the zoom-in feature
Getting close to a bird to take a picture can be difficult. They will most likely fly away at the first sign of movement. Your first thought might be to use the zoom feature to capture your feathered friend. We recommend against that. Your smartphone’s lens is fixed. So in actuality when you use the zoom function, you’re just blowing up the image, not using a magnifying lens.
The zoom feature is a digital function, not an optical one, and ultimately makes the picture blurry. Instead, get physically closer to your subject. You don’t want to take away from the beauty of the wild bird you trying to capture, so don’t use your zoom function.
4. Take more than one photo
Nothing can be more upsetting than taking what you thought was the best picture of a bird feeding at your bird feeder to then realize much later there’s a problem. Maybe the image was too dark to see the bird. Perhaps the bird flew off just as you were snapping the picture. Don’t let that disappointment happen to you.
Instead, keep your eye on your subject, and keep snapping pictures until it flutters away. Some cameras even offer specific settings that shoot multiple pictures within milliseconds of one another. Others offer a “Sport” setting, which takes pictures quicker (at the expense of gathering less lighting from the scene). If you get several photos of a particular scene, you’re more likely to get the perfect shot.
5. Use the Rule of Thirds
If you have been playing around with the camera on your smartphone, you may have come across a setting that places a grid on your view screen. This option is there to add composition to your photos, which is what The Rule of Thirds is all about. This rule suggests that you divide a shot into thirds, vertically and horizontally, using the grid. Then place the subject either where these lines intersect or within one of the “thirds.”
This rule will do wonders for your bird pictures! It reduces vast amounts of empty space, helps your camera focus and creates visually appealing images for bird enthusiasts across the globe.
Now that you know how to take great photos with your smartphone, it is time to have a photo shoot with your backyard visitors! Get creative with your images and take as many as possible. Your smartphone’s camera is convenient and, when used correctly, can produce some of your favorite bird-friendly photography. In no time, you’ll develop a full collection of beautiful bird photos and we’d love to see what’s flying around in your backyard.
Do you have any tips on how to take good photos of birds with your smartphone? Have you taken any great shots of your bird visitors? Share them with us on Facebook! Also, be sure to sign up for our e-newsletter to receive other great birding advice, as well as exclusive updates on your favorite products.