How to Photograph Birds in India

How to Photograph Birds in India

Vijay Cavale

Everyone has seen a Crow, but how many know the difference between a House Crow and a Large-billed Crow? A House Crow has a pale nape, neck and breast while the Large-billed Crow is all black! Both these birds are commonly seen all over India and are therefore known as ‘Widespread Residents’. Welcome to the world of Birds!

Over 8600 species of birds have been recorded on our planet, and about 1200+ species are found in India. Several field-guides are available to help a beginner identify these birds. The one I use is the Pocket Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by Richard Grimmett, Carol Inskipp, and Tim Inskipp. Thus, if you begin to look for these wonderful creatures in nature you will soon notice that they are of different shapes, sizes and colors. They behave differently and their calls are distinctive. They are found in different habitats and eat different foods. Some fly very high up in the sky while some cannot fly at all. The only thing common to all birds is that they have feathers and two legs! As you begin noticing details of these lively birds and learn to identify them with the help of the field-guides and fellow birders, you will be known as a ‘Bird Watcher’. Bird watching is one of the most popular hobbies in the world and can bring you great joy.

Quite unlike bird watching, bird photography is one of the most challenging tasks any human being can undertake. If, for the first time you decide to go out in the open and try to photograph birds, the chances are you will return completely frustrated and find that the shots you actually managed to click are worthless.

So how does one photograph birds? 

Blue Throat

A. Setting a goal

Now that you have decided to photograph birds, you need to set yourself a goal. If your goal is to photograph all the birds found in India, one lifetime will certainly not be enough. As many as possible is a more reasonable option. Birds of a certain region, is another achievable goal.

A good bird portrait has these characteristics:

1.    The bird is in sharp focus from beak to tail.
2.    The bird is sitting on a natural perch.
3.    The bird is at your eye level when you shoot.
4.    The sun is at your back and on the bird.
5.    A clear background frames the bird.

Indian Roller

-To be continued

About the author:

Vijay Cavale has been a nature addict since birth. He lives in Bengaluru, the capital of Karnataka State in South India. After almost two decades of a successful career in the Indian IT Industry, he decided to quit his corporate career at the age of 40 and follow his dream. For the last seven years Vijay Cavale has been traveling to several parts of India photographing its rich wildlife with a focus on birdlife. He has photographed close to 400 species of birds found in India, and gladly shares them on his homepage below. His work in this area is entirely non-commercial and is aimed at creating awareness and sharing the joy. He hopes his work will contribute in some way towards nature conservation. Although he does not offer any of his images for commercial use, he is glad to collaborate and discourse with like-minded people from around the world.
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Vijay Cavale, Jan 2007.

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