I see many beginners committing these 9 composition mistakes in Bird Photography over and over again. I thought it will be more revealing to write an article to understand why you should avoid these compositions altogether to make your bird photographs more compelling.
Check out The Rule of Thirds composition for Bird Photography, so that you know how to compose compelling bird photographs.
If you just avoid these 9 composition mistakes that I mention here, you can rest assured that you will always get the decent bird photographs.
Since birds are very active subjects, it is quite possible that you will commit these mistakes often. But, it is important to check the LCD monitor immediately and see if you have done any of these 9 mistakes. If you have, then avoid it in the field before you lose that opportunity.
Download the FREE eBook: Bird Photography — 10 Mistakes & Solutions.
1. Avoid Cropping the Bird’s Body Parts
This is the most often committed mistake I see all over the internet. It feels so awkward to see a bird’s body part cut. The bird looks handicapped just because of this reason!
However, in the case of Bird portrait photographs, you will crop it or compose it to include only their head and shoulders which is fine.
Always include the entire bird’s body unless it is a portrait photograph.
2. Avoid Very Tight Compositions
How many times have you seen bird photographs that are so tightly cropped that there is no space left for the bird to see or move? It makes the bird look cramped making the viewer uncomfortable.
Just by following The Rule of Thirds composition technique you can avoid it altogether.
3. Avoid Cluttered Background
Clutter background makes the bird lost in the photograph. Background elements start to compete for attention making the bird, the main subject of interest, lost in the photograph.
Always remember that it’s the background which makes or breaks the bird photograph. Always try to get a clean or reasonably blurred background as much as you can.
4. Avoid The Centered Compositions
This is another common mistake committed by beginners. Keeping the bird in the center makes a photograph static and uninteresting because it leaves unnecessary space around the bird.
Just follow The Rule of Thirds for Bird Photography and you will avoid the center composition.
5. Avoid Blurred Eye
If the bird’s eye is blurred or not in sharp focus, then it makes the viewer uncomfortable, even if everything else is in sharp focus. The reason is, we cannot make an eye connection with the bird.
I believe getting an eye in sharp focus is the most important aspect in bird photography. Read the article 5 steps to get bird’s eye in tack-sharp focus to know more.
6. Avoid Overexposed Backgrounds
An overexposed background will make the background or portions of the background completely white, losing all the details. We always want to relate the bird to its background. So, it is important to avoid overexposed backgrounds.
Sometimes, you can make some creative images with the background completely white, but generally, it should be avoided.
Review your photograph in the LCD monitor or check the histogram. Use the Highlight indicator feature in your Camera to see if there are overexposed backgrounds. You can compensate for the overexposure by using exposure compensation.
7. Avoid Overexposed and Underexposed parts on Bird’s body
If parts of the bird’s body are overexposed, then it will lose the details which can be much worse compared to losing details in the background. It generally depends on how much of the body part is overexposed and most importantly, which part of the body is overexposed. Even if the overexposed portion is small but it is in the face, then the image becomes unusable.
Underexposure or Shadow cast on the bird’s body is generally annoying depending on how much of the body is obscured. Harsh lighting or the side lighting are the main reasons for the shadow cast on the bird’s body.
Always try to use front lighting so that you get the entire body lit properly, which means Sun should be behind you.
Contrary to this is the backlighting photography or silhouettes where most of the bird’s body is in shadow. Backlit bird photographs will yield creative results if done properly.
8. Avoid Bird Facing Away
If the bird, which is the main subject of interest, is facing away from the viewer, then the viewer will not be able to make an eye connection with the bird. This will generally lead to uninteresting photographs.
Don’t be confused with the bird looking sideways. That is still valid and yields interesting compositions.
If the bird is facing away, then don’t take the photograph! or change your position so that it is either facing you or sideways.
9. Avoid Shooting From High Angle
This is another most commonly committed mistake from the beginners. Most of the birds are very small and stands only a few inches to feet on the ground. If you take photographs from your eye level, which is often 5 to 6 feet, then you are looking down at the bird. This makes the bird look dwarf or intimidated in the photograph.
Always shoot the bird at eye level by sitting down or lying down!
You are now ready to get decent bird photographs. Go through the list several times and check each of your images while composing to see if you are committing any of these mistakes. Correct them then and there. You will see that your bird photography is improving day by day.
If you want to see how to compose on all different situations, then look at the photographs of your favorite photographers. Understand how they are composing their bird photographs. You will start taking better bird photographs instantly!
Learn how to take better bird photographs in less than an hour!
Please share your opinions in the comments. It would be definitely helpful to the readers if you know of any other important mistakes that one should avoid.