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All photographs by David Lilly

Same Bird Different Light

I photographed this American Dipper in different light about five minutes apart. 

The difference in light made a whole world of difference. The two photos to the right are a little boring because of the flat light in the shadows.

When I had a chance to get some photos in the sun I jumped at the opportunity. However, the Dipper only stayed in the sunlight for two minutes.

Barred Owl

Here in Calgary there have been seven different owls seen this winter.

The Barred Owl to the the right was photographed in a Calgary park beside a busy bike path. As I observed the the Owl it was hunting and eating. I can only conclude that it is healthy.

The owl was very photogenic as I observed it for four hours or more. It flew from one Aspen tree to another. It sat and observed the ground for any movement.

Photographing the owl was difficult. The sun was shining and created shadows on the owl. I moved around keeping the sun to my back. I was trying to get a sparkle in those deep black eye. With no sparkle in the eyes, the eyes looked like two empty black holes. 

I was using my Nikon 500mm lens, so I was able to keep a distance as not to disturb the owl and maintain a smaller angle to get good backgrounds.

I don't post technical info because I feel it is useless. For example, I could post the shutter speed and aperture but in post processing the exposure info will be different once processed.

The trick to photographing owls, if you can, is to move around and photograph from different angles keeping the sun to your back. If you have a 300mm lens do you cropping in the post processing. Always give the owl its space.

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Lovely Winter Birds

The winters are harsh here in Canada. Sometimes that makes me think  about the birds that overwinter here. Some are more comfortable than others. The Junco is suppose to be in warmer climates, but insist on spending the winter here in Canada. The Bohemian Waxwing however seems to be at home here in the winter. 

The Junco is a ground bird. Whereas the Waxwing is a tree bird. Juncos are more common around bird feeders in the winter. The waxwings go after the frozen berries. The junco seem to be lonely birds with one or two seen at a time. The waxwings are a flock bird. 

Below is an American Pipit from a couple of winters ago.

How many photographs do you need of the same bird?

I have mentioned it in other articles, but I will say it again, A good bird photographer will have at least 20 good photographs of the same bird.

This is important if you are trying to sell your bird photographs. Editors will ask for the most unusual photograph - one you don't have. This is why I photograph all of the common birds whenever I have a chance. In my portfolio  I always try for a better photograph and  then replace the older photograph with the newer and better photgraph - always improving.

Below is a list of some of the photographs you should strive to add to your prtfolio for every bird. The list by no means complete. This is my list and I am always adding to the list. By keeping a list you keep youself motivated and always looking for a bird photography opportunities. To the right I have a gallery with some examples you might want to add to you bird photography portfolio that illustrate the list below.

1. Side views pointing to the right and left with light in the eye.

2. View from the back.

3. Bird in flight (underbelly and side view).

4. Bird maiting.

5. Bird on nest (keep your distance).

6. Jevinile bird.

7. Both male and female in breeding plumage and without breeding plumage.

8. Bird in winter and smmer.

9. Bird catching its food.

10. Bird eating or feeding.

11. As many different birds in your area as possible.

12. Lucistic birds are always interesting.

13. Backyard birds.

14. Birds in their natrual habitate (American Robin in a tree and not on a post).

15. Bird feeding its young.

16. Bird with food in mouth.

17. Bird catching food.

18. Bird bring material for nest.

19. Dead bird. ( If you see a dead bird).

20. Rear bird.

21. Groups of the same bird.

22. Birds with other birds.

23. Bird landing.

24. Bird lifting off.

25. Bird with different background.

26. Bathing bird.

27. Bird sleeping.

28. Bird silhouetted (Sunrise and Sunset).

29. Rear Bird.

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Copping with Bad Light

There is not much a bird photographer can do about bad light. You may return to the location when the light is better or make an attempt in Photoshop to add a better background.

The first option - returning to the location in good light is the best option. However, as any bird photographer knows, birds don't hang around, especialy a Northern Hawk Owl. 

I went and photographed the Northern Hawk Owl to the right and got some bad overcast light. just as I was approaching the location the clouds rolled in and it began to snow lightly.

With the owl silhouetted against the sky, I only had one option. I over exposed the owl by three stops and added a little more exposure adjustments in Lightroom.

My editing skills in photoshop did not produce a good effect, so I went with the white background.