Photography Cheat Sheet: Photographing Birds at the Zoo

Want to practice your bird photography skills? Photographing captive birds in zoos and sanctuaries would be a good start, along with some tips from today’s photography cheat sheet.

Birds are among the most popular subjects among nature and wildlife photographers and birding enthusiasts, but sometimes they can be a challenge to photograph. With today’s featured photography cheat sheet, however, we can get a notch better at photographing captive birds for a start. So get your camera ready, plan a day at the zoo or a birding center, and bring these easy tips with you!

In their flowchart infographic below, Digital Camera World took into account a few challenging scenarios you’d most likely encounter when photographing captive birds in zoos, sanctuaries, or birding centers. With these tips, you’ll be able to get great shots even with fencing or distracting background.

First, the cheat sheet suggests taking advantage of photographing the birds during feeding time if possible and putting out bird feed or bait. This will make it easier to position them or steer them away from spots with cluttered background. Once you’re in position, check for any fencing or glass in your view of the subject. If these obstacles are present, you can place the front of your lens as close and as square to it as possible. For wire fencing, point your lens through an opening. Set the aperture to the widest setting possible so the wire gets blurred out.

As you compose your shot, take note of the background. If it’s cluttered, reposition yourself to a spot that gives you a clean or distraction-free background. Check for ankle rings on the birds as well, and if you see those, use a wide aperture setting and include some out-of-focus elements from the foreground to hide them.

In continuation of this photography cheat sheet, we’ll have some tips for focusing and exposure settings as well.

Looking for more useful tips and tricks for your next photography practice? We have a growing collection of photography cheat sheets for you to check out!