Canon IDX / 1/400 sec @ f/8.0

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone – Part 2

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Continued from Stepping out your comfort zone – Part 1

Canon IDX / 1/400 sec @ f/8.0

Canon IDX / 1/400 sec @ f/8.0

Go wide and shoot the environment – When shooting birds for a photo story, it’s hard to imagine any image not actually including a bird. I, on the other hand, feel that it’s often an image that does not have a bird in it which helps tell the complete story. Bird photographers often get stuck in a redundant style of shooting and, in the desire to shoot close-ups, forget to pay attention to the larger world around them. Stay focused on photographing birds but be constantly aware and keep an eye out for the action that may be happening around you.

For the image above, I was actually waiting to shoot some cranes in flight. On this cold and a misty morning in Bharatpur, the bird activity was minimal. With my 600mm lens, I decided to look at the vast fields around me. I came across this beautiful misty silhouette scene of cows grazing nearby and a group of Asian antelopes in the distance. With the backlit scene, I was able to create a moody and an atmospheric image.

Canon IDX / 1/250 sec @ f/8.0

Canon IDX / 1/250 sec @ f/8.0

Making a connection with wildlife – There can be days when your creativity decides to desert you and you are having a tough day photographing birds. Believe me… it does happen. Don’t just pack up your gear and head out. In the case of a lack of creativity or bird activity, it’s a great idea to photograph other wildlife around you. A change of scenery or shooting a different subject can bring back the creativity and refresh your approach towards bird photography.

While waiting to photograph birds, I was scoping out the large field in front of me when I saw this Indian jackal slowly making its way towards me. I waited until it stopped and made an eye contact with me. Just as in bird photography, making eye contact at eye level with other wildlife creates an intimate connection. Eye contact has the power to generate emotions and draw the viewer in.

Canon IDX / 1/160 sec @ f/11

Canon IDX / 1/160 sec @ f/11

It’s all about the photographer – Photographing other photographers at work in the field is very intriguing to me. It has now become an essential part of my fieldwork because it allows me to appreciate the hard work that goes into being a nature/wildlife photographer. The silhouette image of the two photographers above is a defining moment; it shows their determination to get out there and follow their passion. For me, the image above is a testimony to their hard work and their willingness to face challenges. It represents their pursuit and hunger to give their best.

All of the images above were made while on a bird photography assignment in Bharatpur, India and with a 600mm super telephoto lens. In my humble opinion, bird photography is one of the toughest forms of photography; many beginners give up due to the lack of patience and the effort it takes to go after creative images. It is my belief, however, that with patience and persistence not only will your bird photography improve, but you will start to creatively think and visualize the wilderness around you.


About Author Gaurav Mittal

Gaurav Mittal is a professional bird photographer and a blogger who grew up with a passion for nature and wildlife in his native birthplace of New Delhi, India. Gaurav migrated to the U.S. at the age of fifteen. After completing his college, he pursued a career in tax consulting in the Washington D.C. area. It was, however the love for the birds that eventually brought the focus back in his life and a determination to follow his heart, to be a bird photographer. Gaurav’s passion for photographing birds began in 2011 in Bosque Del Apache, New Mexico where observing the Sandhill Cranes brought a sense of harmony and a new vision to him. A moment he captured and fondly calls, “Kissed in The Mist” left him with a vision to continue on further and explore and learn about birds and how he can present their beauty through photography. His desire to be a top class bird photographer has led him to places such as Bharatpur, Bosque, Alaska, New York, Costa Rica and Florida.